Mark Mahoney with the Gymnastics Nevada crew cheering on their students at the Olympics in Rio.

A Gym Owner’s Perspective on the Olympics

Denise Dalton, co-owns Gymnastics Nevada with her husband, Tim. Denise has a truly unique perspective on the Olympics since her son, Jake Dalton, is – well – you know who he is.

We thought that you would be interested in how she leverages the Olympics at Gymnastics Nevada.

Watch as much of the Olympics as possible!
We encourage parents to watch as much of the Olympics as possible with their children. Make a “watching party” around particular favorite events. Choose specific Olympians in favorite events to learn more about. The excitement of learning more about Olympians helps kids get excited to want to try other things. Even after the Olympics, share clips as often as you can. Have a tv playing the routines in the lobby. Give your students something to aspire to.

That’s one of the things about Jake’s attitude that made him so great. He had a love for getting to “what’s next.” He is very dedicated. Even at a young age, he had his sights set on the Olympics. He wrote things about it and he put pictures of the Olympic rings and his favorite gymnasts on his wall for decoration.

Incorporate what it takes to be an Olympians into coaching.
There are several things that matter:

  1.  Your coaching staff must know and believe the male gymnasts have to be in it for the long haul. Unlike development with female gymnasts, male gymnasts don’t get strong until they’re about 18 years old. The boys have to love it and not be so critical of themselves while they’re still young. There are far too many alternatives that can appeal to them if gymnastics becomes boring or slow. Boys want to learn and have fun while they are waiting to get strong.
  2. Use games and trampoline time to keep boys engaged and excited. Talking to your young male gymnasts about how they will develop into their strength and skills won’t keep them excited about gymnastics. While they’re learning, provide them with opportunities to excel and make visible progress. Play games. Rotate the games with trampoline exercises. After all, you do progress through skills on the trampoline that can satisfy their desire to accomplish something!
  3. Parents are a critical role. Gymnastics Nevada encourages a triangle support system: coach, athlete, parents. I believe that this was very important for Jake’s success because it gave him open communication with his coach. If Jake was struggling with something, his coach and I (in the parent role) would talk about it and figure out a way to make it easier for him. I believe that parents and their athlete’s coach should have open – and reciprocal – communication between them.

Encourage athletes to follow the Olympics.
Watching the Olympics is great. But what is even better is encouraging your athletes to follow the Olympics. Learn about how gymnasts get to the Olympics and follow the meets as they take place around the country. Learn more about athletes who capture your students’ attention.

As a business owner and coach, I find this very important. We talk a lot about the Olympics. My gymnasts watch the Olympics to cheer on TEAM USA. We talk about other sports in the Olympics too. It helps to peak the kids’ interests if there is a connection to the Olympics somewhere. Of course, we’re fortunate that we have an Olympian who comes home during holidays and works out with the kids. But even if we didn’t, there are other ways to be connected. Perhaps someone’s “brother is going to be an Olympian,” or we see an article in the news about a local athlete with Olympic potential. Bringing the Olympics closer to the kids encourages them to believe that they can do it too.

In general, watching and following the Olympics is fun and it brings much more attention to sports, especially gymnastics. Sometimes watching Olympians perform floor exercises, balance bean, pommel horse or rings is a kid’s first experience with gymnastics. It can be what brings them to the gym to begin with. Continuing to help them learn about it simply builds on the excitement that that kid felt when first seeing gymnasts.

Oh, and be sure to have fun if/when you get to go cheer on your athletes at the Olympics!


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