I have touched on this subject at different times in previous posts and wanted to elaborate in detail due to the importance of having a quality staff to grow the business. In sports that are highly complex and carry a particular risk factor, the importance of having a well-trained staff is going to determine not only the success of the business, but also the success and safety of the student. All sports have their own specialized means of technique in training skills, which the athlete must accomplish in order to progress. Since the sport of gymnastics is one of the most complex and complicated sports, it requires that the coaching staff have the proper knowledge and experience to train the athlete at their participating level to ensure quality and safety in the training environment.
At the recreational levels of gymnastics, the experience and knowledge requirements for the instructors are much more basic than the higher levels of sport. The students are learning basic elements like forward and backward rolls, bridges, and cartwheels. Although there are specific techniques required to perform these basic skills, it is not so complex that the coaches can, in most cases, be easily trained in a short period of time. However, with this stated, the trainer still needs to have extensive knowledge when training the technique to new coaches. Even the simplest of skills like the forward and backward roll has a particular set of technical rules that should be followed.
I have found that when training our coaches, it takes them some time to recognize and actually see what actions the student needs to improve. To train the eye of what to look for takes repetition and constant reinforcement from the trainer so the new coach can learn to recognize the areas of concern. One great training method is to ask the new coach what they see when a student performs a skill and what areas need to be fixed. Many times, they will not recognize the problem which is a great opportunity for the trainer to explain in detail what to look for specifically. Just as the athlete needs to train their skills, the coach needs to train their eye’s. Since the skills can be so complex, there are usually several different issues that can be corrected. What makes this even more difficult is that many of the skills move quickly so some issues are difficult to spot. For example, when a student is performing a run- hurdle – cartwheel, the run should be correct (not baby steps for example), the hurdle can have many issues like the length, height, arm and body position, and of course the cartwheel may have another set of issues to address. Most experienced coaches can see these concerns whereas a new coach may see very little of these same concerns.
The coaches job is to teach skills to the athlete so they can master them and improve their skill level. When a student is performing wrong or incorrect technique, the coach needs to correct this technique Every Time!! If this doesn’t occur, the student is reinforcing the wrong methods that will create bad habits. We all know that bad habits are hard to break. The coach needs to create good habits through consistent communication. The student needs to hear these corrections as much as possible so they can begin to understand what to focus on while performing the skill. And how should we communicate? always in a positive and constructive manner.
Another task that the coach needs to learn properly is how to physically spot the students on their skills. I discussed this in my post (The Art of Spotting) in detail as this is an important requirement for all level of coaches. We need to not only keep the students safe from injury, but spotting correctly also teaches body positioning on the skills which reinforces teaching the proper technique. Spotting is also a skill that takes new coaches time to learn. It is important that the coach is not put in a position to spot a student that they cannot physically manipulate or a skill that is more advanced than they are trained to spot. Both of these factors can cause injury to the athlete and/or the coach.
It is always best to have the new coach train and shadow other coaches initially so they can become comfortable with the environment and class structure. I have heard many stories of coaches being forced to run classes on their own their first day of work without any training. This can be stressful for the new coach and the students of the class. Remember, usually the parent is observing and if a class is not run efficiently, this willy look unfavorably for the gym program. When one parent is unhappy with a situation, they will certainly tell others and this can potentially spread rapidly within a community.
The success of every business is determined by the quality of the staff running that business. We are providing a service to the community and we have many competitors that are providing programs for children. Not just other gymnastics related businesses, but dance, martial arts, baseball, etc. The higher the quality of training and service the more opportunity the business has to achieve a greater market share. Remember, a business is only as successful at its staff. Let’s train them the correct way!!
I would love to hear your comments. Also, if there are any subjects you would like me to cover, let me know and I will do my best to post my thoughts. Please Like and Share to all you believe will benefit from the information.
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