Coaching, Confidence, Losing, Mental Training, Skill Development, Uncategorized

Learning then Losing Skills – A Common Issue

It is so exciting to see students accomplish new skills. Skills that have been a focus for months or years and trained consistently. Then the moment comes when it is finally accomplished. Then, within a day or two, the skill is lost. How frustrating and depressing. Motivation is lost and the feeling of wanting to quit takes control.

This happens often, even with the most advanced athletes. Due to the high complexity of skills and the risk factors involved, it may take a long time to develop confidence in completing a skill. We have discussed the manner in which skills are learned safely and properly. This includes drill training and spotting on a consistent basis. Many times it is necessary to re-learn the skill from the beginning.  Through time, the athlete should gain the confidence needed to perform the skill.

However, if the athlete attempts to perform the skill when they’re not ready emotionally or physically, there could be an accident. This could erase any confidence gained and the skill lost. It may take awhile to get it back. For some, it may never come back (.  There are many circumstances that may cause an athlete to lose or struggle with confidence.  Some of these may be experiencing an accident or injury or watching someone else have an accident or injury.  In most cases, it is simply having negative thoughts of crashing and getting hurt.  The student may often say “I’m Scared”Confidence and the Mental Block .  The coach should always encourage in a positive manner and provide that needed support to reduce and eventually eliminate the fear factor.

This is Common!! Even at the highest levels of participation, athletes will have the same problem. Coaches and parents need to be supportive and encourage the student to keep at it and don’t give up. They will get it back but they need that positive support.

This is why we stress the importance of learning the basics and building a strong foundation Tumbling: Importance of Building a Strong Foundation.   It is the stepping stone of learning all skills and is needed in the event a student struggles with skill development.  Most all athletes will experience this issue of learning a skill and losing it.  Sometimes it is immediate and other times it just occurs after years of having a particular skill.  Taking that step back and resorting to the basics is a positive and necessary  procedure to fix this issue.

Remain positive and be encouraging is the key.  Coaches and parents should not treat this scenario in a negative manner.  The student will most likely be very upset and emotional over the loss of skills.  We need to pick them up and help them through the process and get them moving in a positive direction.


Dreams Can Come True



follow your dreams

Ever since I can remember, even when I was very young, I would often dream about what I wanted to become when I got older. I think most all children have similar thoughts and dreams. As a coach of young children now, I often hear stories from my students of what they want to be when they grow up. Dreaming is a good thing and it is important to know that Dreams Can Come True!!
Even though some dreams may sound crazy and impossible to reach, I believe it is a positive emotion for all children to have. The dreams that children have may change many times throughout their childhood. For this reason, parents should not get over dramatic when they hear their child express interest in something that seems so far out. However, with this said, we should never think “never” in expressing views on someone’s dreams.

When I was young, I had dreams of wanting to be several things at different times: like, wanting to be a veterinarian – I like all animals. I also loved football and played on a league so I dreamed of becoming a professional football player.  I even went through a period of time when I wanted to be an astronaut. When I was introduced to gymnastics at the age of 10, I fell immediately in love with the sport and quickly decided this was what I was going to do with my life.

Olympic Rings hands         As I became more involved with the sport and found early success, I began dreaming of becoming an Olympian. It wasn’t until my middle school years that this dream had turned into a goal. I became serious about the sport and more serious with my training. As I grew within the sport and reached the elite level of participation,  I knew my goal was a reachable and realistic goal.

Although it took nearly 13 years, my dream of becoming an Olympian came true. I’ll never forget the exact moment of when this dream was realized. It was an unbelievable feeling of self-gratification.

I had another dream as well, this was to be a business owner someday and be my own boss. I had worked in the corporate world for years after my retirement from gymnastics but never lost sight of that dream of running my own business. Again, it took many years, but I found an opportunity and felt I was ready.


I have been running my own business for nearly 18 years now and couldn’t be happier. Of course, there are many challenges with being a business owner, but the rewards are greater. Another Dream Come True!!

Always remember, it is good to dream. It gives a person, especially children, something to look forward to. It gives a person a purpose for their actions. And there is nothing better than living your dream!!

live-your-dream scrabble


 “If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”

– Jim Rohn

Athletes, Coaching, Skill Development, Uncategorized

An Approach to the Struggling Student: Coaching the Challenged Athlete

coach with athlete

The objective of the coach is to train their athletes to improve their abilities and performance level. For many coaches, and programs, this objective becomes extreme. It becomes an objective to not just improve the athlete but to create champions. But what about the athlete who doesn’t have what it takes to succeed in the sport? Are they tossed aside – forgotten, humiliated? This discussion will focus on training and developing the hopeful and challenged athlete.

All coaches have experienced the student who is very motivated and has a lot of determination, but unfortunately, struggles with learning even the most basic elements. Every person is built differently both physically and mentally. Many sports dictate what type of person is made to succeed in that sport. For example, to excel as a basketball player, the person will usually need to be tall; to excel in gymnastics, the person usually will be smaller and lighter. There are always exceptions to this dynamic but true in most cases. Thus, genetics play a major role in how successful one may be at sports.

The challenge many programs have is how to handle those students that will not progress to the point of becoming a competitive athlete. This is a sensitive issue and should be recognized so as not to damage a student’s confidence and self-esteem. Although in many cases, it is the parent who is pushing the issue of success without realizing the limitations their child may have. In these cases, parents will leave and explore other gym programs in an attempt to find the miracle program that will develop their child.


Many of these situations are students in recreational class programs (Programs for the Rec Student). All young athletes aspire to be champions one day. They have their own dreams of wanting to be just like their idols. I have had students state how they want to be in the Olympics someday – and they are serious!! And the coach should never tell the child that this is most likely an impossibility. No matter how awkward a student may be, they should never be treated any differently from the other students (Coaching: Lets Be Positive).

There will usually be a point in time when the student will realize their true potential. When they see some of their classmates moving up to higher levels, they wonder why they cannot move up as well. This is where the coaches need to communicate to the student and parent, in as positive manner as possible, that there are skill requirements that must be met to move to the next level. They need to be told what skills need to be accomplished and what they can do to meet those goals.

We want every participant to feel good about their sport experience. Even though a small percentage of athletes ever reach a highly competitive level, the skills and training they acquired will benefit them in other activities they choose to participate in.

As a gymnastics and tumbling coach, I have many students participate in our class program with aspirations to become great at the sport. All students are treated the same and follow the same curriculum of the other students at their same level. For the students that are struggling, the parent will usually approach me and ask to discuss their child’s progress. This is a great opportunity to explain the dynamics of the sport and the challenges facing the student (Coaching the Parents).


We want every child to have a great experience with their participation. It is important that children have hopes and dreams and set high goals for themselves. We should always support and encourage this attitude. It’s not all about winning or losing or becoming a champion. It is participation that is important to recognize. Every student should be regarded special and treated like a champion!!


Mental Training, Uncategorized

Setting Goals: The Path to Success


I remember a motivational poster that said “Success is a journey… not a destination”. The journey to success is rarely a smooth uneventful path. It’s more like an arduous endeavor full of twists and turns and many ups and downs (no pun intended) odyssey. My experience has taught me that these unforeseen obstacles are more manageable if there are specific goals to achieve all along the way. In this discussion, I will reflect on why goals are so important and how to stay on a path toward success.

Many goals start off as a dream, especially for young children. We all had dreams of what we wanted to become as an adult and it often changes as we develop. This is a great start and shows some ambition in an individual. Most young children do not understand the concept of setting goals and what type of commitment it takes to achieve those goals. Of course, they have the dream of wanting to become something but they aren’t typically mature enough at a young age to understand what it takes. Many of the goals that are made for a child usually will come from a parent and what they want for their child. This approach in some cases has been successful, however, all to often, it can end in frustration for both the child and the parent. We see this in every sport, activity, business, etc. where parents choose who and what their child will become. Unfortunately, this can have some very negative consequences as the child matures.

Scott coaching Kailyn

As the child matures, they begin to have a much better understanding of what is truly important to them. Their dreams begin to evolve into realistic ideas and this is where goal setting becomes important in development. Many students begin to set their own goals and begin to take the steps necessary to complete those goals. However, it is helpful if the student has a mentor or someone who has achieved the same or similar goals to help guide the student along and map out the path to follow.


In my own experience, as a young student (before my gymnastics career started), I loved sports and was always very competitive. I somehow knew that one day I was going to be successful in sports. I believe I had a natural drive to achieve. Once I got involved with gymnastics (at the age of 10) it didn’t take me long to decide that this was the sport for me to pursue in a serious manner. I began to dream of being in the Olympics someday. I had a poster of the 1976 Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Team pinned up in my room and vowed that I was going to be like one of them someday (ironic, Bart Conner was on that poster and many years later, I became his teammate). This became my inspiration and I began to set goals of how to achieve my dream.

There are short-term goals and long-term goals that should be determined. The short-term goals are necessary to help a person stay motivated and on the right path to achieve the long term goal(s). These goals may include such things as learning new skills that may allow advancement to higher levels, a ranking status on a team, or qualifying to a special event. Similar to climbing a ladder, each step is a short term goal that leads to the ultimate long term goal.

Rythmic gymnast Floor

There are many factors that can affect the success or failure of achieving goals. The most important factors in achieving goals are determination and motivation. If the person is serious and has a strong desire, there is a great chance for success. Many times, sacrifices need to be made when attempting to achieve goals. More time working and less time playing is a common sacrifice. I had to miss my High School Sr. Prom due to preparing for an event – a difficult sacrifice for sure, but just one of many I have had to make.

scott speaking to students

When setting goals, especially the short-term goals, try to make sure they are realistic. I have seen cases where students set goals that are certainly not realistic to achieve in a short period of time and they shouldn’t be set up for failure. Set many achievable goals and this will help keep the motivation strong in moving forward. Coaches should assist the students in selecting these goals so they are sure to achieve success. For example, a student certainly should not learn to do a back handspring on the balance beam before learning to accomplish a back walk-over.

As I mentioned earlier, when I was young, I had a dream of participating in the Olympic Games. As I got older and began to take gymnastics seriously, this dream turned into a goal. As I progressed in the sport through achieving many short-term goals, I found that this ultimate goal of becoming an Olympian became a realistic goal. This reality was a large boost to my motivation which allowed me to eventually achieve that goal. We have all heard the phrase “dreams can come true”, I have lived it along with so many others that had such a childhood dream. If a person has the desire and passion to achieve something in life and makes the right decisions and sacrifices to achieve their goals, anything is possible!!

Scott Johnson Scanned Photos (10)