How To Hit The Right Tone & Engage With Your Gymnastics Club Followers

Part 3 of Facebook Gymnastic Club Series

In this last part of our Facebook for Gymnastics Clubs Series, we take a look at the importance of getting the tone right with your posts, and we offer up some key tips to help you engage better with your page followers.

If you’ve missed the first two parts of this series you can catch with Part #1: Setting Up Your Gymnastics Club Facebook Page here and Part #2: Creating Content For Your Gymnastics Club Facebook Page here.

Getting The Tone Right

People don’t want to talk to an organisation or an anonymous entity that they have no connection with. Instead, they want to talk to people and they want to talk to you. How are you going to ensure you get the tone right?

You may find that there are a number of people who manage your Facebook page. It’s important to introduce them to your fans so that there is a greater level of interaction. The clubs that let the moderators interact directly with the fans get the greatest number of new fans and levels of engagement.

Therefore you could have a custom made tab which introduces the team behind the Facebook page. Display their avatar and a short description of them so they both feel valued and people know more about who they’re talking with. (If you want someone to create a tab for you and you’re not sure, go to peopleperhour.com).

Additionally, after each Facebook post, it might be a good idea for the person posting to leave a dash followed by their first name. This is far more likely to create user interaction and responses than a post solely by the club alone.

Whenever you’re talking to people, it’s important that you talk to them using their first names. In normal, everyday conversation, it’s rare that you address someone with a first name and surname.

To ensure you get the tone right, respond to what people are asking for, and make sure that you meet that need. Facebook is all about good conversations, and the tone that you post will either foster or hinder this.

Be More Engaging

It’s one thing to create your own quality content for your Facebook page so your fans share and comment on them, but it’s equally important to create a context to encourage your fans to post their own content. For example, following on from an event that your club holds, wouldn’t it be great if your fans were to post photographs of that event? Well, most of the time it would be (#badhairday).

The more that your Facebook page can become a destination for ideas and content to be exchanged without you being an over-protective gatekeeper, the greater the level of engagement with your fans. It then becomes a community for them.

To give this a chance to develop you want to create space for “super fans” to emerge. Super Fans are those who are highly motivated to engage with the community, post regular content and comments and to foster a sense of responsibility for your community.  Your immediate goal is to identify 100 people who love what your gymnastics club does and wishes to talk about it with others.

Once people are posting content it’s important to engage regularly with it. There’s nothing worse than someone spending the time and energy to start a conversation and for others in the room to ignore them. Especially in the early stages, don’t let a comment go unanswered. People connect with other people, so when the page feels like a safe space to be listened to and affirmed, people are far more likely to return and respond. The Super Fans will naturally help plug the gap as your club’s presence on Facebook grows and some will want to become moderators.

If you don’t initially ask people to do anything, they won’t. Give strong motivation and clear Call To Actions. One example of this would be asking people to “Like if you agree” with a statement you make. You can also try running competitions that people need to enter by submitting their own content or provide polls for people to respond to.

Creating an environment where people want to spend time interacting with you, your club and their community takes intentional listening, planning and implementation. But as you engage your content and interactions around meeting your customers needs, you’ll find your community will grow.

Naturally, as you create a community, some will leave unhelpful comments. If you find yourself in a situation where people are leaving negative posts, it’s appropriate to delete those and helpful to send that person a message to explain why it has been deleted.

Facebook is still the biggest and most popular social media platform in the world. Individuals, businesses, clubs and organisations alike, are all finding it the place to connect and engage with their target audience, friends, members….

Regular posts, interesting content and quick engagement can all contribute to raising your gymnastics club’s profile, reputation and numbers!

We hope you have enjoyed this series and have found it both insightful and useful. As you get started with Facebook, make sure you ‘Like’ our page and download our free Facebook eBook for more help with Facebook Pages.  

Kristian Thomas Named As British Gymnastics Foundation Sporting Ambassador

Kristian Thomas Named As British Gymnastics Foundation Sporting Ambassador

Kristian Thomas is the new ambassador for the British Gymnastics Foundation’s ground-breaking Love to Move programme. The scheme has been designed to help make life-changing differences to those living with dementia.

The likeable two-time Olympian takes up the story:  “I was approached by the British Gymnastics Foundation and straight away I knew it was something I’d like to be involved in. A lot of people know someone with dementia, so I thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the sport that’s helped me so much. I’m really hoping my experience within gymnastics can help people doing the programme to regain some of the functions they thought were lost.” This represents a clear example of how the sport can also benefit people in the community, so it’s not just about medals and glory.

One of Our Best-Loved Olympic Gymnasts

Kristian of course  is a long-standing member of both the England and Great Britain men’s teams. He was a member of the gold-winning British team in the 2012 European Championships team event, also winning a historic bronze in the same event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

He won his first global individual medal in the 2013 World Championships, in the form of a vault bronze It was also the first global medal ever won in the vault by a British male gymnast. In 2015 he won his first major international title, gold in the floor exercise at the 2015 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

Very popular within the sport, Kristian will be working alongside the Foundation to help raise awareness of the programme, as well as being present at future fund-raising events with a view to helping expand the directive across the UK.

Dementia Sufferers Benefit From Love To Move Programme

Patrick Bonner, British Gymnastics Foundation Manager said: “We chose Kristian as our ambassador for the Love to Move Programme as he has experienced gymnastics at all levels and has a deep understanding of core gymnastics skills and how they are beneficial to people, no matter what their age or background. Kristian is currently doing a sports degree in Strength & Conditioning and as part of this is exploring how people living with dementia can benefit from exercise programmes. I hope that Kristian’s high profile as one of Great Britain’s best-loved Olympians can help raise awareness that gymnastics is more than just a sport and has the power to transform the lives of people most in need.”

It may come as a surprise to some seeing gymnastics linked with such a serious condition, but research carried out by Age UK has produced some exciting results. Experts have discovered ‘a demonstrable benefit in the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects of the 150 older people who have taken part in the scheme so far.

Love to Move has been delivered regularly in two care homes, one day centre and one community group in Cambridgeshire across the last year. Those older people having mild to advanced forms of dementia appear to benefit the most.

As for how he got involved in the sport, Kristian’s parents sent him to a club with the simply aim of improving his co-ordination. “I was always climbing and getting into things that I shouldn’t, so going to gymnastics channelled my energy,” he says.

“I also have a younger sister, Rebecca, and she was into gymnastics too.” The 23-year-old from Wednesfield astounded them, clearly showing a huge flair. The rest, of course, is history. Kristian was thrilled to have been asked to play such an important role, and you can be sure he’ll do a great job. They say gymnastics is for everybody, and few can argue with that statement.

Video Intro: How To Request Payment For Class Fees

Request payment for class fees with Gymnastics Club Manager

One of the best features of Gymnastics Club Manager is the ability to authorise, request and collect payments easily online – the software does all the work for you, no more collecting cash and coins before class starts.

Gymnastics Club Manager offers numerous ways to collect payment for the classes you run, as well as offering a choice of ways for members to pay. Of course, collecting fees begins with requesting payment. In the video below we walk you through how to setup your software to request payment for class fees, including sending out a request to multiple members, to individual members and applying discounts, e.g. a sibling discount. We’ll also show you how to schedule requests and set up the auto-renew feature.

If you find you are spending more time on club administration and member management, than you are coaching gymnastics, then Gymnastics Club Manager can help. Our software was created to help you better manage your members and admin.

With more than 100 tools and features, we can help you streamline your membership process, take the headache out of fee collections and ensure your member information is always up to date.

Book a free consultation here to see all the features our software has to offer and discover how you can change the way you manage your club admin – forever.

Artistic Excellence From The iPro World Cup Of Gymnastics

Amy Tinkler

Olympian Amy Tinkler from South Durham lifted a well deserved bronze at the 2017 iPro World Cup of Gymnastics in front of an excited crowd in the O2 Arena, London. The finest gymnast to come out of South Durham was greatly encouraged by the supportive home crowd who willed her to another superb medal.

The 2016 Olympic floor exercise bronze medallist and 2015 British all-around champion, performed powerfully across the apparatus through strong routines to record a total of 53.433. Victoria Nguyen from the United States took the silver with a score of 53.832, with Germany’s Tabea Alt claiming gold with an impressive 54.598.

The competition was intense, enthralling and hugely enjoyable for the lively spectators to watch. And of course, it notched up another landmark for the 17-year-old, whose list of credits makes wonderful reading.

A Bronze of Beauty For Amy Tinkler

A naturally thrilled Amy from Bishop Auckland said: “It’s amazing I’m so so happy. I’ve had some problems this year with my calf so coming into this I wasn’t sure what to expect. My performance was better than I thought it would be, I think I fed off the atmosphere of the home crowd. I loved all the support, it was like Rio all over again but even better with it being in Britain. I’ve never heard so many kids shouting “Amy, Amy!” that feels so special and for me, I love the pressure and the buzz of competition so they definitely helped me today.”

Her winning routine began on the vault with  a double twisting yurchenko, before moving onto the bars. A full twisting double back dismount drew great appreciation from both judges and fans. Amy’s difficult  layout on the beam saw her make a grab just to stay on. But as all top class athletes do, her resolve and will to win came shining through.

A strong dismount saved the day earning 12 marks. The big finish wasn’t far away however, as she looked to her favourite piece of apparatus in the final rotation. Lying in 4th, it was a case of changing gear to secure a medal. Her tumbling routine was flawless, the highlights being a full twisting double straight somersault and a double pike finish. Accumulating a further 13.233 marks was the clincher.

A Trio of British Medal Winners

Amy of course, becomes only the third British woman to win an individual gymnastics medal, following Beth Tweddle’s uneven bars bronze in 2012, and Bryony Paige’s silver trampoline success. At 16, she was actually the youngest member of the British team in Rio, receiving an open bus top welcome on returning to her native north-east.

A brilliant all rounder, she’s perhaps best known as one of our leading artistic gymnasts. In fact, she competed at the 2013 British Artistic Championships. In the All-Around competition this likeable star took second place with a final score of 53.800. She scored 14.050 in the vault, 12.100 on the uneven bars, 13.650 on the balance beam and 14.000 on the floor exercise.

Amy also competed in all four apparatus finals. In the vault final, she amassed 14.100 marks for her first vault, and 13.400 for her second, for an average total of 13.750, giving her the silver. Immensely talented, Amy makes her discipline look completely natural. She has of course, put many hours of hard work in from a very young age. And of course, she still has so much to look forward to in this new cycle.

Britain’s Georgia-Mae Fenton was also due to compete alongside Amy, but sustained an injury in the warm up. British Gymnastics medical staff made a thorough assessment before deciding jointly, it was in her best interests to withdraw from the competition. It’s thought Georgia will make a speedy recovery. As for the almost angelic Amy Tinkler, the success story continues.

Whitlock The Workhorse: Practising Pommel Perfection

Max Whitlock pommel horse

Doing ‘The Whitlock’ could soon be a phrase associated with gymnastics fans across the world. Even if it isn’t, the sport will certainly be enjoying some innovate and powerful new routines on the pommel horse. For five-time Olympic and World gold medallist, Max Whitlock has gone back to the springing board in search of the spectacular.

Taking Time Out

Having withdrawn from competition until September, the Basildon based athlete certainly hasn’t been taking a breather. Far from it. In fact, he’s working hard to produce the most amazing routine possible. He said: “It’s about creating something that shocks people. “There are two I am thinking of now. One would be a big, big move. It would probably change the pommel quite a bit if I can do it, but it’s very dangerous at the same time. If I miss with my hand I will land on my face. So I need to progress it really slowly and make sure it’s right. I want something that has never been performed – nor even imagined – by any of my rivals.  That’s why I wanted to give myself this time away from competition.”

He won both the men’s floor and pommel horse exercises at the 2016 Summer Olympics. With ten medals and three titles in Olympic and world championships, Whitlock is the most successful gymnast in his nation’s history.

Max added: “The floor routine I show on stage will hopefully have four new tumbles out of five. So that’s another big job and I can’t rush it. There are only two G-level skills at the moment on the pommel horse [which means a difficulty value of 0.70], and I am hoping this would be a third. The other one, the dangerous one, might be the first H [or 0.80] on this apparatus. You are only credited with a skill when you pull it off at one of the two biggest events: world championships or an Olympics, but I’d love to have a move named after me.”

Training Media Ban

As you might expect, cameras and mobiles are banned from South Essex Gymnastics Club when he is testing out these new manoeuvres. So many things appear on Youtube these days, he just can’t afford to take any chances. And of course, one slight mishap could result in injury, which is why he’s taking it slowly.

Even bringing into play a soft introduction at a domestic meet could give the game away. Every athlete takes a long hard look at their routine after the Olympics, as it’s all part of the cycle. He added: “I heard of one competition a long time ago where there were four people trying to do a Tkachev on high bar. “It depended on what apparatus you started on, who had the chance to do it first. If the order had been different, we would call the Tkachev by a different name.”

The points code is amended every four years offering a higher or lower value for certain moves. This is to ensure old routines are taken apart and recombined into new shapes. Max Whitlock was the first British man to win a World Gymnastics title, winning a Gold medal on the Pommel and a Silver medal in the Floor competition.

He became part of the history-making team who became the first British men’s team to win a World Silver medal. As one of the sport’s finest exponents, Max is a great role model.  Alongside his continued gymnastics success, Max is a supporter of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Charity Redevelopment Appeal and an ambassador for Paul Smith, Adidas, Weston Homes, Nissan and DFS.

Creating Content For Your Gymnastics Club Facebook Page

gymnastics club Facebook content

Welcome to the second part of our series on using Facebook for your gymnastics club. If you missed part 1 you can catch up here. In this latest instalment we take a look at creating a sustainable content strategy, the types of content you can post, where to find inspiration, and lastly how to make publishing to your page easy.

Define Your Gymnastics Club Goal

Before you dive into your content strategy, take a step back and ask what the overall goal of your club is? What are the priorities? Are you looking to increase the number of members that you have? Are you looking to increase the level of engagement with your members? Are you looking to foster community? Are you looking for additional income streams? Are you looking to educate and inform? Are you looking to entertain and inspire your community? It’s also really important to align your content strategy with the overall goals of your club.

If you aren’t sure what content people wish to receive, you could consider creating a questionnaire using SurveyMonkey or Gymnastics Club Manager, and entice people with a free prize draw on completion. This questionnaire will help you to drill down and identify the core important issues for your customers and create relevant content to meet that need.

What Do You Want From Your Facebook Page?

Once you’ve identified the goal of your club, the next question to ask is: What are the goals for your Facebook page? What are you trying to achieve from it? The content needs to be relevant to your audience. It’s not enough for it to be a piece of content that you find interesting.

There are many different types of content that you can use:

  1. Videos
  2. Photos
  3. Links to blog posts, ebooks and whitepapers
  4. Questionnaires
  5. Polls
  6. Prize giveaways

But one of the golden rules of content is it needs to inform and inspire your audience. You want them to be entertained and educated. With Facebook, as with all other social media channels, it’s very easy to assess the success of a piece of content based on how many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ it gets.

Try to get away from what you want to create and allow your audience to shape your content strategy. After all, you want results more than you want to create content you like.

Automating and Publishing Content

Many people are put off engaging in their Facebook account, because of the sheer amount of time it takes them to source and post relevant content, without a certainty of the return they’ll get from all this time spent.

It’s a shame that they give up at this hurdle.

This is why it’s really important to understand what your initial goals are and what would result in those goals being met. Whether it’s engagement, or new leads into your sales pipeline, having clarity on those goals will enable you to be able to measure your results and analyse the results.

Either way, it’s important to find a good way to automate your content publishing and curation to save you precious time.

Using sites like Feedly (an RSS reader), you can identify suitable sources such as blogs and websites with great content to share around your community’s needs. Once this content is gathered, HootSuite or Buffer are great tools to automate the publication of this content.

Feedly offers this integration to post through Buffer or Hootsuite with one click. This will prevent you needing to add content each day, but instead, you can schedule the content to be published once a week or even once a month.

This won’t take away your need to directly interact with those who are in the community, but it will ensure you have a steady stream of good content being published onto Facebook. Both of these platforms can also post content to Twitter and other social channels too.

As with all social media strategies, it is essential that you have a good content strategy, and whilst it’s one thing to curate and share other people’s content, to have greater influence you need to create your own content centred around your gymnastics club.

Spend some time thinking what your audience would want to read, share and what would make their lives easier. Ask them. Assess which content gets the best reaction. As Content is King, create the quality pieces of content that will serve your followers.

You may be concerned that you don’t have someone within your team who can write, create videos, podcasts or other content and if this is the case then hire in a freelancer. A good place to find those would be peopleperhour.com. Feel free to ask us for recommendations.

Create a content calendar and schedule this content creation in advance. You want to have a ‘content bank’ that you can draw upon. And remember once you have this content for one platform, it’s likely you’ll be able to tweak and reuse it on others.

Here at Gymnastics Club Manager, we are dedicated to helping you grow your club online, increase your membership, and provide you with the tools you need to help improve your engagement. We’re truly vested in the success of your club, providing you with resources and content that supports you to reach your goals.

Look out for part 3 in this series, coming soon. In the meantime, make sure you ‘Like’ our page and download our free Facebook eBook for more help with Facebook Pages.  

Using Gymnastics Club Software To Collect Fees Based On The Number Of Hours or Sessions A Gymnast Attends

Using Gymnastics Club Software To Collect Hourly Fees

In our previous videos, we showed you how to set up fee collections on a monthly class basis or by term or blocks of weeks. But if your gymnastics club charges based on the number of hours or sessions your gymnast attends a week, rolled up into a monthly fee, what then?

In our latest video, we show how this can be setup using our gymnastics club software. The video below will walk you through setting up payment tables and categories, creating classes and adding other options such as class size and moving people to a waiting list if their preferred class is full.

In case you missed our first video on setting up waiting lists, you can view it here.

We know that managing a gymnastics club can often seem like it’s all administration and very little coaching. This is why Gymnastics Club Manager was created to help you simplify the membership process, make fee collections easier and more manageable, and ensure member information is always up to date.

Why not book a FREE CONSULTATION to see all the features our software has to offer and discover how you can change the way you manage your club admin – forever.

 

UK Gymnastics Championships 2017: Liverpool Leading The Way

UK gymnastics championships 2017

The UK Gymnastics Championships 2017 are a record-breaking success…

Merseyside was celebrating a record breaking event following the success of the 2017 British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool. It drew the Echo Arena’s largest ever crowd with packed houses on both the Saturday and Sunday.

The crowd certainly weren’t disappointed following a dazzling array of performances from UK elite gymnasts including Joe Fraser from the City of Birmingham, winner of the men’s title, and Olympian Ellie Downie, who lifted the women’s crown.

Head Turning Performances

Ellie featured on our website before the event having told the public her new routine would turn heads, was true to her word. The judge’s heads were turned as well however, after witnessing a superb display of athleticism and artistry.  This included a double twisting double back somersault on the floor.

Youth Olympic Champion Joe, 18,  had spectators agog with a scintillating performance in his high-bar routine. He told the assembled media:  “I’m speechless. It’s unbelievable. It’s not something I came into this competition expecting. I just wanted to try my new elements and see how they were on the stage and see how I could perform them. I started on rings and tried a new strength element. I was quite nervous for that but rings went well. I had a little mistake on parallel bars but I managed to compose myself for the high bar routine. Floor went well, and then pommel, I was nervous because I knew what I could do if it all went to plan. I was nervous, but I managed to say on, so I’m so happy.”

Future Talent Showcased

James Hall from Pegasus and Dominick Cunningham from Birmingham shared a silver to demonstrate what great talent we can look forward to in the future, as cycles evolve. Finishing in 4th was Sam Oldham from Notts, with William Trood and Gabriel Hannah from Loughborough taking the next two places.

In fact, Loughborough was the only university taking part in the competition.  Southport can feel very proud of Frank Baines, who won the floor title, with Courtney Tulloch from Swansea winning the rings.

Highlights from UK Gymnastics Championships 2017…

Returning to the women’s highlights, Maisie Methuen from Phoenix and Alice Kinsella took a joint silver away from the event. Alice won the crowd’s hearts with a stunning beam routine, including a solid free cartwheel layout, with Maisie ever the reliable performer on the vault.

Georgina Mae Fenton from East London was simply sensational on the bars, clearly looking one to watch for the future.  Overall, the championships featured a number of competitions, including the junior women, junior men in both two categories, senior all-around, apparatus finals, senior women, junior women and both men and women disability gymnastics.

Not forgetting the masters finals for the men.

Thanks must go to the people of Liverpool for making everyone feel so welcome, but the last word should stay with Jane Allen, British Gymnastics CEO who said:

“It was another fantastic event and we’re thankful to the wonderful Echo Arena in Liverpool for hosting us once again. Congratulations to everyone who took part and contributed to the event’s success, and we must say a very big thank you to the record crowd who cheered on our British stars and created such a brilliant atmosphere. We enjoyed seeing our Olympians returning to the sport and performing for the crowd and it was particularly exciting to see some of our younger gymnasts doing so well. They rose to the occasion nurtured by their clubs, coaches and our high-performance system which is focused on ensuring sustainable results. It was a fantastic opportunity for the juniors to shine and start to challenge the more established seniors as they begin to return to competition in this next cycle. The journey to Tokyo has now begun.”

All eyes are now firmly fixed on this new cycle, though it seems UK gymnastics is getting stronger with each passing year.

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.

Haters

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.

Unbelievable.

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.

Ellie Downie: Back In A New Routine

 

Gymnast Ellie Downie

Ellie Downie is bouncing back. As the British Gymnastics Championships get into full swing all eyes will surely be on current Junior European and European Youth Olympic gymnastics vault champion Ellie Downie.

For this extra powerful athlete who specialises in the vault, is ready to reveal a new head turning routine certain to enthral fans of the sport even more.

You couldn’t help feel for the sister of Olympian and European Champion Becky Downie, as her Rio dream didn’t quite follow the script. But as all inspirational young sportswomen do, she quickly bounced back even more determined to fulfil her lofty ambitions.

Ellie takes up the story: “In Rio my competition didn’t go to plan, I think afterwards I was pretty upset by it so I just took some time off and chilled out. I went out with my friends and just had fun. Then after about a month and having been on holiday, I was ready to get back into the gym and work hard. I’ve actually really enjoyed getting back to full fitness. It was quite amusing watching me and Becky train when we first came back off holiday, as I’d never had more than a week or two off gymnastics. Having a month off on top of just doing what I wanted and not thinking about rest and recovery, was hard. However, I really enjoyed it and I am loving being back now. It’s good to come down and know how hard it is to get back, I think that needed to happen.”

Youth Olympic Gymnastics

Ellie of course landed four medals at the Youth Olympic Games three years ago, before turning senior in 2015. She celebrated the milestone by earning all round bronze medals at both British and European Championships, the first female gymnast ever to win an individual all-around medal in Europe.

One year later she added to her impressive haul by taking another all round bronze and a gold in the vault. More was to come in The World Challenge Cup event in Osijek with a superb performance in all four routines. And then she reinforced her star status claiming silver on both floor and vault, as well as helping the team to silver, at the European Championships in Berne.

From The Bottom To The Top

The Notts club member is a perfect example of how aspiring gymnasts can start at the very bottom, and work their way onto the podium through hard work, determination and a wish to really enjoy the whole sporting experience.

And how has her training been going?

“I have got a couple of new skills for 2017,” she told the media. My new vaults are coming along. We will see how they go but I will probably compete my old ones for the first few competitions. I have a couple of new connections on beam and bars too and I have a new floor routine that I am really excited to compete. It’s very different!”

And of course, the promised routine looks set to be one of the major highlights in the Liverpool Echo Arena.

As for clues she added: “My last routine was a bit different anyway, but this one, you’ll hear the music and you’ll want to look at the floor. It’s very different, often gymnasts use classical music for their floor routines and it is moving away from that a little now but I think mine is an another step even further than that. It’s definitely something the crowd will want to see!”

Ellie is without question a fine example and role model as a former Sky Sport’s Sportswoman of the Month. But she was even more proud to have been crowned’ BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year’, back in 2015.

All of those hours in the gym have helped propel her to the top of the sport, though the ex Nottingham Rushcliffe school pupil has also made many friends along the way. Very much a team player, she still has so much left to achieve.

She said: “I am hoping to be on the World and European teams this year and that’s my aim. I go into every competition with my own goals in my head but I don’t tell people as I think it applies pressure and you should just go in there and only aim to do your best. You don’t aim to win the gold medal, just go in there do your best and whatever comes out of it take the positive with the negatives. All in all, I am just really looking forward to competing this year, it’s the start of a new cycle and it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

All her skills have been quickly re-emerging, and that Rio disappointment has clearly served to make her stronger and better than ever. Ellie Downie is back in the new routine.