Do you have a passion for gymnastics? Is it your ambition to nurture the next generation of gymnasts? Maybe you’re a former gymnast, an athlete or just an enthusiast who wants to coach. Becoming a gymnastics coach is a rewarding, engaging and worthwhile goal. So, how do you become one? Do you need a degree to teach gymnastics? What qualifications are required? And just how do you go about becoming a beginner gymnastics coach?
In this article, I’ll lay out everything you need to know about becoming a gymnastics coach. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ll cover …
- Gymnastics Coach Job Description
- What Qualifications Do You Need?
- Personal Skills Required
- Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Coach
Gymnastics Coach Job Description
The job of a Gymnastics coach is to work with budding gymnasts at all age groups and levels to develop their skills and confidence. A coach may specialize in working with children, college age students or adults. He or she may also focus on a specific area of gymnastics such as routine choreography, trampoline work, early development, tumbling or acrobatics.
A gymnastics coach may work with students one-on-one or in a group setting. The coach will be expected to track each gymnast’s progress through the levels. This will involve hours of work off the gym floor. While on the gym floor, the coach will instruct, guide and spot students as they engage in training sessions. This will necessitate some physical contact with students.
When it comes to coaching students for competition, the coach’s responsibilities also include working with the student to choreograph routines and to arrange the music for floor exercises. In a school or college environment, the gymnastics coach needs to be able to work well with and coordinate gymnastics club activities with other school departments. He or she will work closely with the school’s athletic director.
Being a gymnastics coach also involves being a counselor and advisor. Depending on the age of the students that are being trained, the coach may be presented with all manner of issues and problems that young people face. He or she will have to know where to draw the professional line and where to offer support and guidance. The job of any coach is also to help students develop their self confidence.
Sometimes a gymnastics coach may be expected to provide nutritional guidance and to guide the student to training modalities beyond the gymnastics floor, such as resistance training in a gym. And some knowledge on how to care for common injuries, especially things to avoid during injury, is always helpful.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor, the employment of gymnastics coaches is expected to grow by 20% from 2020 to 2030. That is much higher than the average growth rate across all industries. It is expected that there will be an average of around 45,000 job openings per year over the course of the decade.
Gymnastics coaching may be full time or part time. Either way, the job will involve work in the evenings and on weekends. Full time hours for a gym coach is considered to be 30 hours per week, but that does not include time spent at home planning and travel time.
Gymnastics coaching usually comes under the industry umbrella of Arts and Recreation Services: Education and Training.
When it comes to salaries, gymnastics coaches in the United States, they range from $15,556 to $70,050. The median salary for a gymnastics coach in the US is $37,440.
What Qualifications Do You Need?
To secure a job as a gymnastics coach you will usually need at least one gymnastics related qualification. However, if you are applying for a job as a coach at a Gymboree for 5-7 year olds, the employer may be more interested in your passion and rapport with kids than any on paper qualification.
If you are wanting to secure a coaching job with a competitive gymnastics club, then you will need to be qualified. Multi-level, standardized education and certificate programs are available under the umbrella of USA Gymnastics (USAG). Potential coaches in the United States who have completed a certificate program from USAG will be at an advantage over those who have been qualified elsewhere.
The USAG requires that all students begin with the USAG Safety Certification. This safety certificate is valid for four years, at which time it will have to be retaken. Once this course is passed, the gateway is opened to a range of Level One Coaching programs based on the area you want to focus on. Level One courses are also valid for four years, after which time they will have to resit.
Check out the USAG website for details on the courses available.
If you live in the UK, British Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, is the best place to enroll for a coaching course. They offer a range of courses for trainers wanting to specialize in such disciplines as freestyle, trampolining and rhythmic.
You can learn more about courses available through British Gymnastics here.
Some gymnastics centers will offer their own internal training courses so that new trainers can be molded toward their style and methods. In this case, you will be able to train as you earn.
In order to get a job as a gymnastics coach, you will need a current CPR certificate. I recommend taking a full first aid course. Doing so will give you confidence on the gym floor as well as strengthening your chances of securing a position.
Before you are taken on as a gymnastics coach for children under the age of 18, you will have to submit to a background check. This will usually involve applying to your local police department for a criminal background check. Upon the payment of a fee, you will be sent a certificate that you can then present to the potential employer. This process may take some time so get it underway well ahead of time.
Personal Skills Required
Gymnastics coaching requires more than technical skill. You will also need to be an encourager and motivator of others with the verbal communication skills to motivate and excite students to perform at their best. You’ll need to be able to impart instructions clearly and succinctly.
A good coach should have highly developed people skills to be able to engage with students and their parents at all ages positively and empathetically – and with other coaches and staff as well. They should be fair, reasonable, have the ability to make tough decisions quickly, be patient, analytical and observant. He or she should also be a natural planner and organizer.
A quality coach is a good role model in all areas of life. The students should be able to look to their example as one to emulate.
When you are preparing for your job interview, focus on highlighting the personal skills mentioned above, with examples and evidence of when you have demonstrated them.
Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Coach
Let’s now track through the actual steps that you should take once you’ve decided that you want to become a gymnastics coach.
Step One: Find a Mentor
The first step is to find a coach that you can use as a mentor. This person will be your sounding board. Without being a pain, follow this coach as he goes about his business. You’ll get a good picture of what the job involves, as well as the behind the scenes planning and preparation that goes on.
Step Two: Develop Your Skills
If your mentor coach allows, assist him on the gym floor. Spend the time to develop your ability to communicate the form points and technique instructions that you will be imparting to students. Give your instructions to your partner or a friend and have them carry them out exactly as you give them. If they’re not clear, go back to the drawing board.
You should also spend time developing your spotting ability. Have your mentor coach give you some guidance here. It is your job to be a safety guard rail for the student: assess the training area and identify potential danger spots, then get yourself in a position to catch the student if need be.
Step Three: Pass a Background Check
Before you spend any money or make any commitment to study, you need to pass a police background check. As a coach you will be more than likely working with people under the age of 18. If you fail a criminal background check, your gymnastics coaching career will be a non-starter. So be sure to get this hurdle out of the way before you take the next step.
Step Four: Get Your Qualification
At this stage, you will have a taste of the coaching experience and be able to make a final decision about whether you really want to do this thing. If you do, now is the time to enroll in a course of study. All USAG courses can be done online, with most being able to be completed within a few months.
At the same time that you are completing your certification, you should also take a first aid course.
Step Five: Apply for Coaching Jobs
With your coaching qualification, first aid certification and background clearance in hand, you’re ready to start applying for coaching jobs. Your final hurdle is to ace the job interview. Here are a half dozen of the most common gymnastic coaching interview questions, along with some tips on how to answer to impress.
Are you an effective team worker?
Your answer should tick off at least three or four ways that your personal skills contribute to a strong team environment. These could include that you are an easy going person who gets on well with others, you are a clear communicator with the ability to inspire and motivate others, and that you have the ability to use tact and conflict resolution strategies to temper down situations.
Are you able to perform well under pressure?
Of course, your answer will be that, yes you do perform well under pressure. You might even say that you operate at your best when the pressure comes on. Either way, be ready to provide two short but clear examples of when you have done so.
What are your greatest strengths as a gym coach?
You will almost certainly be asked this question. Be prepared with a response that is directly relevant to the position you are applying for. You will probably end up restating some of the personal skills that you have already mentioned, so it would benefit you to spend time with an online dictionary finding synonyms for your personal quantities. That way you won’t simply be repeating yourself.
What is your greatest weakness as a gym coach?
This is a tricky one. If you say you don’t have any, you’ll blow your credibility. But if you offer up a weakness that is really a strength (such as I care too much), the interviewer will see right through you. Take some time to honestly think about an area of coaching you need to work on and mention it specifically. But don’t leave it at that. Go on to explain what plan you have in place to remedy that weakness.
Where will you be in 5 years in your gymnastics coaching career?
The purpose of this question is to determine how much of a goal setter you are and whether you have career ambition. The interviewer also wants to assess whether your expectations are realistically in line with the position you are applying for. Take the time to think about where the job could realistically take you and answer accordingly.
Becoming a gymnastics coach is a rewarding, engaging and exciting career. As well as molding the gym skills of young athletes, you will also be helping them to flourish as well rounded people, developing the self confidence and resilience to become active members of society. In this article, I’ve provided you with a template to making your gym coaching career goal a reality. Embrace the challenge, follow the path and make your gymnastics coaching dream a reality.