A Coaching Story

By Coach Carrie

Today I was teaching a child how to get through a fear of a trick on bars.  The trick entailed jumping from the low bar to the high bar.  This girl was pretty tiny in stature so she was very fearful and has been for many months of this skill.  Every time she came to bars she would ask, “Are we jumping to the high bar?”, with this look of agony on her face.  I finally had an extra coach helping me today and not too many kids showed up for class so it allowed me to spend some extra time with her.  Well, I learned so much.

So I started setting up the bars.  First I pulled them close together and ask her, “are you scared?”  She said yes, then I put a mat under the bar to make it seem not so high and asked the same thing.  Still the same response.  Then I put another mat there and finally she said she wasn’t scared to try from that point.  I knew always to start a trick from a place of not having fear.  She responded ok to this but was still scared once she got up there.  I had to spot her and she still jumped to the mat before catching the bar.  So I took her down to the floor and put a bar on the floor for her to jump from to a low bar.  I made sure to put it ridiculously close so she couldn’t say she was scared.  She jumped just fine.  Then I pulled the bar on the ground farther away from the bar she was going to catch and immediately she started to get scared again.  I was stumped!  It wasn’t very far but she just wasn’t trying and still terrified.

I decided to give her control.  She knew the direction I wanted to head with progress but I then let her move the bar when she was ready and comfortable.  I was amazed!!! She moved the bar faster and farther away from the bar on her own than I did trying to push her into it.

Now here is the reason why this coaching method works so well….Kids want to learn and progress.  They know that in there DNA they need to reach out and try.  But that crazy response happens when I try “setting the bar” for them.  They instantly think the opposite thoughts of “this is scary, I’m not ready, I can’t do what she’s asking.”  Even though I think I’m being encouraging by saying, “no you can do it, just try, you’ll see it’s easy.” But only opposite thoughts race through her brain because children also want to naturally resist authority.  But when I handed over the power of making the decision on her own when to jump and how far to jump and even how many times to jump before she moved the bar she forgot all about resisting me and fear.  Now all she saw was a goal to move it farther back.  At the end of it all she was jumping to the high bar without mats underneath her and a complete look of satisfaction on her face along with a giant smile.

I’ve used this coaching method before but never saw in such concrete detail enough to say, “I’ve got it figured out.” It changed her world to be able to push her self with my expectationless support.  Once I gave her the freedom to push her self she set the goal higher than I had and progressed farther and faster.

Moral to the story is…trust your kids.  Let go of the need to have perfection right away.  If they are meant to be perfect at it, they’ll get there.  And if not, they sure did learn a lot trying and actually reap the same benefits, if not more, as the child who did get it perfect.

Our goal is not to make your child perfect at gymnastics but set goals and reach for them whatever there ability is.  Yes, some kids are destined to get great scores and take first place all the time but it’s always the kid that struggles and fights for what they have who appreciate it more.  As long as we see progress and a desire to move forward, they receive immense praise and affection from us.

Think of it like this.  When your child is a baby, is it better to give them the toy they are crawling for or have them work to crawl to it and get it themselves?

Thanks everyone for reading my blogs.  Always grateful.

~Coach Carrie




2 thoughts on “A Coaching Story

  1. Carrie, I needed to read this today, and unrelated to gymnastics! My oldest is entering her last year of high school and will be making so many life decisions this year. I want to guide her, and be there to support her, but I will allow her to take control and decide just how to get herself to where she is headed. Thank you for this reminder, perfectly illustrated!

    • You are so welcome Tami. I swear it’s the parents that stay out of the way the most that end up having independent children. If she’s a good natured kid, she’ll do just fine. Bumps along the way just means that she is learning. Thank you for reading my story and sharing your thoughts. Hope all is good in Oneil land. I think about you all the time and strangely enough your almond trees. I eat almonds because of you. It’s crazy what we do for each other and don’t even know. 😉

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