Human Resources

How to Handle a Bored Gymnast

When your subject is an 8 year old bored gymnast, what do you do?

Maybe watching a video of gymnastics great and hearing her training story would help.

What if this bored gymnast knew Jordyn Wieber’s training story and knew how the Twistars girls do 10 routines and then do about 10-15 of their problem work after that? What if she heard the Twistars girls say it really helps them? Would she be impressed that Twistars has 40 gymnasts that are between level nine through Elite gymnasts? And would she understand how they accomplished that?

The bored gymnast may feel inspired after seeing this video but the lasting impact just won’t be there because it doesn’t provide her with what she needs.

Boredom happens in gyms everywhere. Inspirational videos are nice. They are great for everyone to watch, but they don’t put structure and discipline in place, set goals and establish expectations and they don’t provide the variety necessary to keep gymnasts engaged.

So how do you eliminate boredom in the gym? It means work for the facility owner/manager and instructor/coach.

Look in the mirror. Make sure that you are not the coach with no sleep, burned out from doing two full-time jobs plus managing a gym and trying to handle the stress from dealing with coaches, parents and gymnasts. If you are excited and enthusiastic, then your gymnasts will feed off that.

A focus for each skill. Each skill and every routine repetition should be done with a different emphasis. Focus on handstands in the bar routine, work on increasing lift and height in tumbling, focus on sticking landings, go all out and put on a theatrical performance, concentrate on hand positions on skills in beam and floor routines or emphasize grace and elegance in the dance sections of a floor routine. There are so many elements to choose from and a variety of ways to make every routine interesting, while simultaneously improving the routine.

Set elites apart. Gymnasts need to know there is a difference between them and those Level 9 – Elite gymnasts. These gymnasts are already high level optionals and are primarily focusing on training routines to compete this year. They are primarily training to learn new skills, catch up to the Elites and pass them. Training with Level 5 routines for this compulsory year is not as important as that to them.

Build a clearer vision for them. They need a more intense FutureVision of their gymnastics and get their gymnastics goals back in the front of their mindd. What are they doing all this for?

Reevaluate how you use surprise. Your practices shouldn’t suffer from too much similarity and not enough surprise, variety and excitement. You are likely coaching too mechanistically and with too much emphasis on repetition and drills. Concentrate on progress and keeping movement in the right general direction.

Compete every day, all day. Competition breeds excitement and enthusiasm. It gets gymnasts to give 110%.

Challenge your gymnasts. Give them daily challenges, maybe with a little motivation kicker – “If you hit a cast handstand this turn, I have to do one, too.”

Intensity is important. Coach with more emotional intensity and make her train with more physical intensity.

Implant core characteristics. Believe that motivation, drive and determination can – and must – be implanted in gymnasts. It is your job to coach and motivate, not just accept that boredom happens.

Make sure there is daily progress. Daily progress is key and progress with a new skill every day is important. Learning new skills is what makes gymnasts happiest and at a young age, there is so much they can learn.

Basically, keep it interesting. And interesting means variety, structure and discipline, goals and expectations. Keep them engaged, challenged and busy and they will stay focused and interested. And they will make continuous strides in becoming the elite gymnasts they want to be.


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