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It's not the most wonderful time of the year! (or is it?)

Posted by Keith Pettit on

Before you think I don't like the holidays (I do), I am referring to this time of the year for a Gymnast or Gymnastic Coach. For the most part, our season is split into a few time periods.

We have meet season which lasts from roughly January to May.  Each practice is pretty similar and drama free.  The kids come in do their routines and some strength and go home.  They are getting consistent on their routines, they just have to do the work to clean them up and maybe add something here or there.  Its not the most exciting practices but  they stay motivated because they have competitions each weekend.

Then from May through summer its the greatest time ever!!  The kids get to work new skills and harder strength.  Everyday someone learns something, everyone cheers and we finish the day playing with puppies and kittens.  Ok we don't do the last part but it sure feels like that. 

At times there may be a skill that the gymnast is just terrified of doing and think they will never do it.  We break it down into drills, spot them and get them comfortable.  Then one day they do it.   When a gymnast finally gets to throw then catch that big scary new release its amazing. 

Towards the end of this time, you don't just learn a new skill each day so motivation does die down a little.  This leads to fall when we start to think about competition season.  We still don't have all those new skills consistently but that's ok because we have plenty of time (we always say that).  Skills are still in the resi pit (a giant mat in the ground).  We are starting to put together routines but for the most part its still footloose and fancy free.

Which then leads to the worst part ever - reality season.  Remember that fun release you were working in the summer?  You caught it that first time - you got a cookie (for real - our café has the best cookies), everyone cheered and best of all you got featured on New Skill Sunday on coachkeithpettit on instagram (nice plug right).  Well that release ain't much fun now when you have to catch it multiple times a day in a routine for the routine to count.  Hope that cookie tasted real good haha.

As a coach it stinks because despite what people think, I don't like always being a jerk. (I did say always).  Its my job to hold the kids accountable.  And that's hard to do.  When they have big rip or some aches and pains, it would be easier to let them move on.  They look at you, pleading with their eyes and want you to move them on, but you can't. 

Every December it all seems to come down to one that one practice.  They have a difficult assignment that in their head they know they can't finish.    Some try to just barrel through it fast at first then get stuck and frustrated. Some try to just doddle and hope time runs out.  One kid falls and makes it look way more dramatic than it should be and everyone thinks "good now that jerk Keith will have to change the assignment or we will all die".

Remember when I said I don't like being the jerk all the time?  Well this is when I do. The kid is laying on the ground (not hurt) hoping I will just move him on.  And I say the one sentence every gymnast hates to here - "that one doesn't count."  (I can't lie, I do love saying that.)  Two things happen, either one of the kids fakes being sick and goes home or  they all look at themselves and just plod along and get through the workout.  Learning a new skill may be the most fun part of being a gymnast but that feeling you have when you get though that  impossible workout is the best part of being a gymnast. After that day practices seem to get a little easier.

Most people that do sports  aren't going to make the Olympics.  That's really not the point.  The point of doing them is to learn life lessons that sports can teach them.  That life can be mundane at times, fun and exciting but scary at times, and sometimes hard as hell and that's ok - that's what makes them a better gymnast/crossfitter/worker or whatever. 

 If you are having difficulty with your gymnastic type strength moves - check out my tutorials!



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  • You are a great coach Keith! And last night was a bad workout for either me (as a coach) or the girls. Funny….I keep checking myself “is it them or is it me”? Our expectations for them raise as we want them to bring there best this time of year. Thanks! That article I needed today.

    Stacy on

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