The World of Gymnastics Coaching: Lovers, Haters, Critics and Fans – Part 2

gymnastics coaching

In part 1 I talked about how individual views and opinions are often at odds with each other. I then went on to talk about FEAR and it’s impact on our everyday lives, and in a gymnastics coaching context, the mindset and performance of gymnasts at all levels.

In this second part, I look at the world of haters and how they seek to disrupt others with their toxic outlook on life.


The destructive breed commonly known today as ‘Haters’, poison the minds of others with their toxic and often distorted view of the world derived from their own insecurities and limiting beliefs.

A hater can infect a team or culture in rapid time.

Haters don’t love themselves, making it impossible for them to love others, or publicly express praise or recognition for others.

They have low self-respect, and often fail to demonstrate respect for others either.

On the flip side of the coin, those with high levels of self-awareness, content with who they are, do not need the approval of others to pursue their dreams, nor do they have any qualms about praising others who succeed in their field. They understand there is plenty of success to be gained in life.

Now I hold my hands up, I’ve ridden the negativity bandwagon too, but am well and truly off it, having spent a great deal of time in self-reflection, self-discovery and maturing through personal development and philosophy in recent years.

But what about you? Are you happy for others when they succeed? Do you celebrate others’ success or let it threaten you? Do you invest time and energy in criticising others? Are you an energy angel or energy vampire?

The worst kind of hater is the one who criticises others for following their dreams or standing up for their beliefs. Yet they are usually too fearful to take any action themselves.

The very reason they are critical in the first place is often down to jealousy and their insecurities, created by a fictional fear which is paralysing them to take any action.

Gymnast Simone Biles received criticism on social media following the Rio Olympics, despite being arguably the greatest female gymnast of all time. She’s a phenomenon, and we are truly blessed to have the opportunity to witness her ‘awesomeness’.

It makes you wonder what kind of person finds it necessary to invest time in broadcasting such a low opinion of her to the world? It can only be someone so insecure, unmotivated by goals, lacking inspiration, and with far too much time on their hands.

Few of us can accomplish in a lifetime (in their respectively equivalent fields) what many elite gymnasts achieve before they even turn 15. But haters always seem to find fault somewhere.

Perhaps society is to blame? Turn on the news or open the tabloids and it’s filled with negativity and all the problems with the world. It would be great to turn on the news and hear about all the good that is happening in the world (there’s plenty of it!)

Limiting beliefs, insecurities and fears paralyse people to move forward. Successful people (open for interpretation as always) find ways to manage their emotions and remove limiting beliefs from taking charge of their destiny. They optimise their mental state to aid performance. Focusing on hate will make you a more hateful person, and that’s not conducive to accomplishing your goals.

I won’t be paralysed by the unimportant opinions of others, will you?

You may instead choose to use hate to feed your success …

I’ve received my fair share of criticism to date, and still do of course. As a young coach of about 16/17, I received counselling for it. I’ve never shared that before, apart from my closest friends and family, but I’m not ashamed or embarrassed. Young minds can struggle to deal with negative criticism, and lead to further insecurities.

Not everyone’s comfortable with my vision, energy or accomplishments, and not everyone will be comfortable with yours either. Some criticism is rightly justified, through errors in my behaviour or judgment (we’re all human remember, and we only act at any given time in the best manner we know how.) But much has been uncalled for, demonstrating a real lack of professionalism, particularly by people in positions who should be leaders and role models.

As a young coach, it affected me hugely, tormenting me for several years. It’s only recently, through self-discovery, awareness and being content with who I am that I can now rise above (sometimes even laugh at) the transparent behaviour of others who are throwing out hate and negativity.

When you understand what drives this kind of behaviour, it becomes easier to ignore.

I’ve had ‘experienced’ coaches, 50 years old plus, publicly ridicule me whilst delivering a coaching clinic. I’ve watched them high five and laugh with each other afterwards, congratulating themselves for their disruptive behaviour.

I could write a book about the different lengths some coaches have gone to in a bid to cause me harm or to suppress me, but I don’t need to share it, nor do I need to play the victim.

The old Nick would be deflated, intimidated, even paranoid from this kind of behaviour. It’s upsetting to be treated in this way, but I now think and understand, that these types of behaviours came about because of the individual’s’ own insecurities.

Ridiculing me in public elevated these coaches own sense of power and significance amongst the group, something insecure people need in abundance. Sad really, but it’s reality, and the more you understand of human behaviour, the easier it is to be more content with oneself.

What This Means For Our Gymnasts

In the information age we now live in, it has never been easier to access content and media. This brings an abundance of positive things along with it, but one challenge the younger generation faces today is exposure to hate, criticism and negative comments.

It’s all over the media, magazines and social media. People can hide behind a profile without ever being identified. Opinions from all over the world are instantly visible, the moment they are published. Times have changed.

I’m aware of several high profile athletes being subjected to aggressive trolls and hateful people, whose sole purpose is to disrupt their emotions.

I’ve watched young gymnasts break down in tears after reading a blog post which is critical of their performance in podium training the day before a major event (for my non-gymnastics audience that is basically pre-competition training in the same arena and conditions as the event will be taking place to familiarise themselves with the equipment, environment etc.)

This ‘opinion’ comes from a blogger with no competitive experience in any sport, who seeks to criticise and affect the performance of a gymnast who has represented her country, travelled and competed all over the world, and still manages ‘normal life’ all before the age of 16.


Words are weapons. Most adults can’t cope with criticism, let alone young minds.

You can’t escape it or police it. It’s here to stay. Quite frankly, it’s life, and our young gymnasts will be exposed to it pretty early, commonly at school too.

Our gymnasts need educating in this area as well. YOUR gymnasts need educating in this area.

Gymnasts need to know that ‘where focus goes, energy flows,’ so when getting caught up in negativity, be it through the people they surround themselves with, the media they engage in and the thoughts they ultimately run through their minds, they are making a conscious choice to become powerless to external factors.

As coaches, we are a gymnast’s most important critic. Our opinion, matters to them. It’s why we are the perfect person to educate them in the way of the world, advise on best practice, teach them to stay goal oriented and not let the opinion of others paralyse their performance.

It’s important too we demonstrate this kind of mindset to our gymnasts also. We have to walk our talk.

It’s pointless telling them not to get upset about criticism if we ourselves demonstrate a lack of emotional intelligence in front of them when we receive a score we don’t like or get beaten by a competitor.

Our own self-control, emotional intelligence, mental resilience and self-awareness comes first.

This means understanding our flaws as coaches as well as our strengths, understanding human behaviour (what causes or motivates people to do what they do,) and understanding our values and thought patterns/limiting beliefs.

It also means recognising that none of us is perfect, we all make mistakes, have dark moments, and we all need to be supported, not suppressed.

When our inner world is complete, our outer world and the way we interact with others improves greatly. If we are not content with who we are and where we are going, it’s going to be difficult to demonstrate positive actions and behaviours towards others, or in front of our gymnasts.

If you missed part 1 in this series you can read it here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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