We’ve talked in previous posts about the key attributes the best gymnastics coaches have. Without a doubt, most or maybe that should be all, bring an infectious energy to their gymnastics coaching.
Coaches who have this ‘energy’, are typically more engaging, compelling and importantly – ‘present.’
They have an energy you can feel, hear and see right from the start, and a presence which commands your attention and focus. These gymnastics coaches have a far better chance to sustain their gymnasts concentration, making them far better motivators and engineers of the environment they coach in.
Simply put – when it comes to gymnastics coaching, if you don’t have energy, you can’t share it.
What Separates Good and Great Coaches
There are a great many coaches who have solid technical knowledge of gymnastics. It’s quick to learn, accessible and fairly simple to adopt. However, changing gymnastics coaching habits and behaviour requires self-awareness as well as drive and action.
Consider a comedian’s skill in using and manipulating language and body language to make something often seen as normal, absolutely hilarious. It’s less about the words used, but instead the compelling and humorous way they deliver the joke, that engages their audience.
This is both energy and engagement.
Attributes of Coaches Who Lack Energy and Engagement
Let’s look at some of the key attributes possessed by coaches who have low energy and engagement with their gymnasts. (This is not an exhaustive list, neither do these attributes indicate poor coaching or bad practice).
- Monotone in their voice, never varying in tone, pitch or volume, often quiet
- Closed body language
- Standing distant from their gymnasts when coaching
- Sitting down whilst coaching
- Standing in the same place each and every time a gymnast visits an apparatus (most coaches always stand/sit in the same spot every session, do you?)
- Using the same feedback methods, language and drills, never changing the stimulus for the gymnast
- Does not set out clear goals for training
- Appears generally lacking motivation
Qualities of a Compelling Coach
By contrast, this list shows the qualities of a compelling gymnastics coach who possesses a high level of energy and engagement:
- Varied pitch, tonality and volume of their voice
- Open, confident and approachable body language
- Always standing, moving around and never in a predictable spot to watch training
- A varied style of delivering feedback
- Asks the gymnast questions to test their focus and understanding of their own performance (athlete empowerment)
- Unpredictable, (yet still consistent) approach to their coaching methodology and progressions
- Sets clear goals and objectives for the session so each gymnast is task orientated and practicing with purpose
- Is proactive in their instructions, clearly leading the session as opposed to being reactive with feedback based on gymnast performance.
Energy and Persistence Conquer All Things
Energy can also be a byproduct of the environment you coach in – music choice for example, can be a key factor and when used in conjunction with a good warm-up session can really set the tone and energy for the whole session.
Owning the energy in your gymnastics training will help you command attention and motivate your gymnasts. Before you go, look at the above lists and see if you can identify one area to improve; perhaps you could try an alternative approach within your gymnastics coaching sessions and then evaluate the impact it had on your results.
Article by Nick Ruddock, Gymnastics Club Manager’s resident coaching expert and International Gymnastics Coach and Consultant.