Becoming involved in gymnastics, especially at an early age, can carry lifelong benefits well after the days of training and competing have long passed. If you are a coach who is considering opening a gym, here are a few ways in which you will be able to create a safe and positive environment that will keep your athletes coming back and continue to attract those who are interested in participating in the sport.
Create a Positive Environment
The most important factor in retaining athletes in any sport is by creating a safe and positive environment. This is especially true in gymnastics because the overwhelming majority of participants are females who are not known for their large body size or fighting abilities. Considering that there are also many male coaches involved in the sport, creating a sense of trust is essential.
Almost every gymnast starts practicing when they are young kids and many will remain loyal to their coaches for years if they experience success early in their careers. Naturally, parents will want to make sure that their little athletes are safe around coaches in a sport that requires a lot of physical touches to properly teach the correct techniques and movements.
Openly allowing parental supervision will immediately begin to give both the parents and their kids a sense of security and will facilitate the process of building a strong rapport with you and other coaches.
Build Healthy Rapport Between Coach & Student
While many parents will be heavily involved with their child’s participation in gymnastics, they will not always be able to attend every practice or event.
Therefore, it is crucial in making it a point to establish good, healthy, trusting relationships with your students. Once you have done this, it will ensure a positive and comfortable environment for everyone involved and will increase the likelihood that the word will spread about how your gymnastics gym is a safe outlet for everyone interested in participating.
Vet the Coaching Staff
You will need to hire multiple coaches to assist you with making your gym one that people want to join. While the majority of those who participate in gymnastics are female, there are a lot of male coaches that are also heavily involved. Running background checks and reaching out to mutual friends is a great way to properly vet all coaching candidates, regardless of sex.
Build an Encouraging Environment
Creating and maintaining a positive environment will help your athletes fall in love with the sport and keep them coming back to practice to improve even if they are not the strongest competitors. Sports are about having fun first and foremost, especially with younger athletes. Gymnastics is an incredibly difficult sport that requires highly developed coordination and motor skills, which can often take years to master. This means that there will be many hard lessons and bad performance days that can lead to your athletes feeling discouraged and unworthy of participating.
It is important to continue encouraging them and maintain a positive attitude when giving critical advice, especially if someone is having an off day during a competition. They need to understand that everybody screws up and everybody fails at times when facing adversity, but it is how you react and comport yourself after the fact that makes a person grow into a formidable athlete. If you get knocked down, you have to get back up and try, try, try again. Promoting and teaching resiliency and developing fortitude are essential to having a champion’s mindset, and those attributes will play an integral role in everything they do for the rest of their lives.
Instilling an encouraging environment will definitely have reverberating effects. Even though gymnastics focuses on individual events during competition, it is indeed a team sport and it is important for your athletes to remember that everyone plays a crucial role in the team’s success. It can be easy for them to feel a sense of jealousy if their teammate performed better than them in an event, but continually reinforcing the mindset throughout the year that being on the competitive roster is in itself a great accomplishment will help erode that toxic mindset.
Doing this will instill a positive mindset that, like smiles, is contagious and will perpetuate a positive and encouraging environment.
Establish a Zero-Tolerance Standard of Poor Behavior
There are people from all walks of life who participate in gymnastics. Children tend to get along with their peers regardless of background, race, sex, gender, or ethnicity but, unfortunately, some of their parents might not carry the same open mindset. It is unlikely that you will encounter any kind of explicit bigotry or racism from parents or their children, but be prepared to handle any such encounters the moment they occur and let it be known that hateful and intolerant behavior has no place in your gym.
Some athletes will get along better with some than others for various reasons. This is perfectly normal and innocuous behavior, but it can also lead to exclusive cliques that can start bullying and ostracizing others in the gym. Stressing the importance of tolerance toward others and being inclusive will help maintain a safe and positive environment and create new friendships.
It is also common for some of the more serious competitors to feel a sense of jealousy toward their peers if they are having higher levels of success and reaching the same goals at a faster rate. The simplest way to preach against this type of mindset is by continually inculcating the athletes the belief that, even though gymnastics comprises individual performances, it is ultimately a team sport where everybody’s contributions play a role in being successful, no matter how small.
If you are going to have a gymnastics gym, it needs to be easily accessible for the majority of the people living in the area. Preferably a location that is not too far from a school or a bus stop in town so the kids will have easy access to it after school and the parents will not have to worry as much about rushing to drop them off.
Teach the Benefits
There are a lot of health benefits that will inevitably come with steady participation in gymnastics. Once your athletes begin to learn about the positive mental and positive effects of consistent training in a fun, safe, and positive environment, they will be galvanized into wanting to continue practicing and improving their craft.
Excelling in gymnastics requires intense levels of discipline. Your students will quickly understand what it means to be dedicated by sticking to a routine. They will soon learn that consistent training and a special type of effort is necessary for them to improve and be successful.
There will also be those along the way who may feel like they are getting good enough to slack off. That type of behavior is common in those with higher levels of natural talent, but they will quickly learn the hard way that there is always someone who is better than them on any given day, which will keep them motivated to reach their full potential as a gymnast.
Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Your students will soon learn the truth of the aphorism “you are what you eat.” A nutritious diet is essential for optimal athletic performance, especially in a sport that requires high levels of concentration, coordination, balance, and explosiveness like gymnastics.
Getting enough rest and recovery time will also discourage them from succumbing to party peer pressure and bad habits that inhibit physical growth and athletic performance such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
A lot of people who want to participate in gymnastics will not be flexible, but the workouts and routines they practice will eventually begin to improve flexibility, like practicing forward kicks, side kicks, leaps, and splits. Consistent practice will improve flexibility and muscle relaxation that help prevent serious and debilitating injuries.
People with a higher degree of flexibility are less likely to face any type of serious injury associated with mobility. The sinewy and fluid movements required in gymnastics will help alleviate muscle soreness and tension, and joint stiffness. Younger gymnasts are at a developmental advantage because they tend to be more flexible and are able to easier develop stronger ligaments and tendons that lead to better joint mobility.
Improve Balance, Coordination, and Build Muscle
Participating in gymnastics will facilitate the development of motor skills which will lead to muscle growth and development in ways that other athletes are not privy to. Their stabilizer muscles will be developed more than most people which will help them with their agility and versatility.
The balance and coordination are necessary to be successful in events like the balance beam, somersaults, and backflips will also build confidence, mental fortitude, and a heightened sense of awareness of the atmosphere around them.
Improves Cognitive Function
Another great benefit to training and competing in gymnastics is that it improves cognitive function and heightens your physical response abilities. Participating and excelling in agility exercises and circuit training have been shown to greatly improve cognitive function that leads to better verbal communication as well as a more retentive memory, improved critical thinking and reasoning skills, and better learning abilities.
For young children and adolescents, this will almost certainly improve their grades in school.
Build a Foundation to Excel at Other Sports
Training in gymnastics can also be conducive to excelling at other sports as well, especially when their time as competitors have come to an end. There are some gymnasts who have simultaneously trained in both gymnastics and martial arts before eventually making the transition to martial arts full time once they got older.
The flexibility, explosiveness, and fast-twitch muscle movements helped them excel at striking sports, the upper body strength they developed became useful in wrestling and grappling, and their heightened sense of balance and experience with floor movements provided them with an extra advantage in takedown defense and jiu jitsu.
These guidelines and information will definitely help you establish a respectable and competitive gymnastics gym. Children who participate for a long time in gymnastics are setting themselves up for a bright future, and the way you run your gym will play an integral role in establishing a solid base of discipline, commitment, and overall good choices in life.