Brought to you by guest blogger Nick Ruddock
Former GBR national coach and gymnastics technical expert
Nick runs the website Technique Talk where he mentors and guides coaches in their personal development. There are some great take-homes from Nicks article both for coaches and parents too… Enjoy.
I‘m big enough to admit when I’m wrong, and I have been wrong about a lot of things.
You see, I know that we all make mistakes each and every day. Some people reflect on them, some people don’t. As somebody who regularly reflects on my actions, I look at mistakes in a positive light as they will help shape the future decisions I make. Sometimes you need to have made a bad decision before you understand what a good one is.
Many a time, i’ve been too quick to predict an athletes future based on their current performance. I’ve been guilty of saying comments like ‘she’ll never do that skill’ or ‘she won’t be around competing next year’ only to be proven wrong. Or worse, I didn’t bother trying the skill in the first place.
In truth, the text book isn’t always right.
Kids do not conform to the text book!
What kids thrive off is OPPORTUNITY, and coaching is about facilitating opportunity and learning.
Each and every coach has a different perception and understanding of ‘talent.’ The buzzword means very different things to different people, and our own understanding can guide the decision making process when it comes to talent identification and selection.
Irrespective of what we believe, sometimes we get it wrong. Whether ability is natural (genetic) or nurtured (taught,) sometimes we only see a snippet of a child’s true performance potential each week, based on specific circumstances including limited ‘hands on’ coaching time with that particular athlete.
Most coaches would agree that the psychological side of gymnastics is underestimated, with too much emphasis being focused around physical attributes instead of a child’s mental capacity to learn, focus, retain information and deal with adversity.
This level of mental maturity is difficult to identify with young kids, which is yet another reason why talent identification programs can contribute to sporting exclusion before kids have had the opportunity to flourish.
Despite my mother’s best efforts for me to participate in elite gymnastics, the truth is I wasn’t cut out for it, physically or mentally. Thankfully, my mother kept me in the sport at participation level, and I enjoyed ten years of recreational gymnastics before kick starting a career in coaching at 15 years old. I have never looked back since, but it would have been all too easy for my mum to introduce me to another sport in search of a higher level of performance.
Passion underpins performance, at every level. For me to perform at my best, I first need to love what I do. It’s a key ingredient, and many coaches fall into the trap of believing that happiness is a bi product of medals and awards. It is in fact the other way around.
‘Allow kids to love the sport first, so that they come back to learn it later.’
Nick’s Top Tips on this topic:
- Providing opportunity may be enough of a catalyst for change. Pursuing text book technique and processes may inhibit progress.
- Create plans, but not predictions. Writing kids/skills off is a self fulfilling prophecy, which is a limiting belief that you impose on yourself. It has nothing to do with the child.
- If you see something that needs fixing, don’t procrastinate, FIX IT right away, even if you don’t believe the athlete can ever change it. There is no harm in trying, and you’ll often find yourself regretting not taking earlier action 5 years down the line when you are attempting to make change then.
Just being part of the journey is half of the challenge.
Thanks for reading
Owner of Technique Talk
To get in touch and me any questions please visit www.techniquetalk.com
Until next time…
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