The 10 Commandments for a Gymnastics Parents

Thou shalt not impose your ambitions on thy child.

Remember that gymnastics is your child’s activity and they will progress at their own speed. It can never be a positive thing when a parent is forcing a child to do a sport that they do not want to do. The best part about gymnastics is that it does not matter whether you finish first or last, rather the wonderful lessons each gymnast will learn as they strive to do their best.

Thou shalt be supportive no matter what.

There is only one question to ask your child, “Did you have fun?” If meets and practices are not fun, your child should not be forced to participate.

Thou shalt not coach thy child.

You have taken your child to a professional coach; do not undermine that coach by trying to coach your child on the side. Your role is to support, love and hug your child no matter what. The coach is responsible for the technical part of the job. You should not offer advice on technique or skill selection. That is not your area. This will only serve to confuse your child and prevent that gymnast/coach bond from forming.

Thou shalt only have positive things to say at competitions.

If you are going to attend a gymnastics meet, you should cheer and applaud. Never criticize your child, their teammates, their coaches or the judges.

Thou shalt acknowledge the child’s fears.

It is normal human reaction for a child to be scared when attempting new skills or competing. Do not yell or belittle your child. Just assure them that their coach would not have them attempt the skill or put them in the competition if they were not ready for it.

Thou shalt not criticize the judges.

There is much more to judging than you think and each judge has had to test to do what he or she does. There are many routine requirements that the general spectator is completely unaware that have a factor in the final score. No one is perfect, but it is without question that the judges know more than you do.

Honor thy child’s coach.

The bond between coach and gymnast is a special one, and one that contributes to your child’s success as well as enjoyment. Do not criticize their coach in their presence because it will only add to the many distractions they must already deal with during their gymnastics training and performance.

Thou shalt not jump from club to club.

The floor exercise carpet always seems to be bluer at another gym. Every team has its own internal problems, even teams that build champions. Children who switch from gym to gym are often ostracized by teammates they leave behind. Often times, gymnasts who do switch teams never do better than they did before they sought the “blue carpet.” However, one club will not please everyone and you need to find the club where you will fit best.

Thou shalt have other goals besides winning.

Encourage your child to do their best. Giving an honest effort no matter what the outcome is much more important than winning.

Thou shalt not expect thy child to become an Olympian.

There are 55,000 athletes participating in competitive gymnastics. There are only 7 spots on the Olympic team every four years. Your child’s odds of becoming an Olympian are 1 in 114,350. You cannot understand how difficult it is to become an Olympian because the odds are you have never been one yourself even though you, at one point as a child, probably wanted to be. Gymnastics is much more than Olympics. Chances are your child’s coach was not an Olympian, but still received enough out of gymnastics that they wanted to pass their love for the sport on to others. Gymnastics teaches so many virtues while building self-esteem, life-long friendship and much, much more. Most Olympians will tell you that these intangibles far outweigh any medal they may have won. Gymnastics builds good people and you should be happy that your child wants to participate.