A Blank Slate

As a coach, I can get stuck in a rut. To avoid this in the gym, I make training packets that rotate throughout the year. I break the year into phases: off-season, pre-season, season, post-season; and then I break the phases into phases. The kids have variety, the coaches have variety. But what happens when I get stuck in a rut in my actual day-to-day coaching?

I was not getting through to one of my gymnasts, and I needed to know why and how to change the situation. I called a meeting with parents and gymnast. The solution that came out of the meeting was our agreement on a blank slate. We decided to erase our frustrations with one another, and start anew. We came up with a plan to tackle the gymnast’s fears and build her confidence. I am looking forward to this new coach-gymnast relationship.

The possibility of starting anew could never have taken place if parents, coach, and gymnast hadn’t been willing to come together and talk about the uncomfortable.

Sometimes it is important that I hear that I am not doing everything just right. As a gymnastics coach, I spend the hours in the gym giving correction after correction, focusing on the mistakes and errors others are making. What about when I need to change something? Who is there to tell me, the leader, that I need to do something different? This is where introspection and the willingness to listen come into play.

I want to teach my gymnasts to face their problems, admit their errors, take responsibility for and learn from them, do their best to correct them, and improve. If that is what I expect of my gymnasts, then I had better be prepared to do those exact things in my own life as their leader. As a coach, I need to examine how I’m coaching and find what it is that I could do better. And if I don’t know what I need to change, then I need to take the initiative to figure it out, and be willing to take criticism.

It is not easy to talk about mistakes. However, just like I tell my kids, on the hardest days, you have the opportunity to learn the most.