Dear Gymnasts... I Hope You Know

Dear Gymnasts, 

I hope you know... 

1. I want what is best for you. However, it is not that simple, because I want what is best for you in the long run, not just today, or tomorrow, not just what is best for your gymnastics, but what is best for you as a person.  On occasion (or often) doing what is best for you doesn’t make me popular in the moment.  I am willing to accept that.  Like a parent, I understand that I am the adult and sometimes it is my job to make a decision that isn’t fun or easier, but is right.

2.  Sometimes I don’t know what is best for you.  I can do all of the research and learn all that I can, but sometimes what is best isn’t a black and white answer.

Dear Gymnast, 3.  Many things in life are more important than gymnastics.  Family, friendship, education, health, goals … you have to understand your personal priorities and make good decisions based on them.

4.  I know that teenage life is hard.  It’s hard to balance school, a social life, making good choices, friends, sleep, and family.  It’s also hard to fit in. Life is challenging when you aren’t a dedicated athlete.  Add an intense training schedule and your challenge quickly multiplies.

5.  I dislike injuries as much as you.  They aren’t fun.  They put you on the sidelines.  They ruin your plans.  They can get in the way of your goals.  However, you can often find a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Dear Gymnast,  (3)6.  You don’t have to know your future today.  Things can and will change.  You just have to decide that you are going to set goals and then start attacking them.

7.  Life is not always fair.  It just isn’t.  Some days, practices, weeks, years will be better than others.  However, more often than not good things do come to those who work hard.

8.  Gymnastics is hard, I would be crazy to say anything different, but gymnastics is also worth it.  We all know that being a successful gymnast comes at a high cost but it also has many pay offs.  The lessons learned, the memories, and the experiences that you gain from being a gymnast can’t be traded.

9.  I play favorites, most coaches and teachers do.  I favor those who are punctual, grateful, caring, hard working, dedicated, honest, encouraging, and overall coachable.

Dear Gymnast,  (4)10.  I have learned that very rarely does an athlete come to practice with the mindset that they want to mess up or waste the day by not trying.  The flipside is that very rarely is there a time that we couldn’t give just a little more (coaches included).  More effort, dedication, leadership, communication, attention to detail, time spent on taking care of ourselves (sleeping, eating well, icing).  There is a big difference between trying and giving your all. 

11.  I am not a mind reader.  I can often tell when something is not right.  However, I need your help to understand what is going on to make your day, skill, or practice better.

12.  Your attitude is contagious, as is mine.  We have the opportunity to spread positive energy, negative energy, excitement, or anger.  When you come to practice with a positive attitude it can help someone around you.  Consider this, your attitude can spread to your best friend, the athletes in your level, the whole team, the whole gym.  Your attitude can make the day better.

13.  Yes, I have high expectations.  I expect you to be punctual, present, and give your all.  I expect you to use good form, become stronger each day, be more flexible than the day before, and learn new skills.  I expect you to be a leader, be encouraging, a friend, and an example.  No, I will not lower my expectations.  Doing so would mean that I don’t believe in you.  I do believe in you.  I believe that you will not only meet my expectations but that you will also exceed them.

Dear Gymnast,  (5)

14.  You are ultimately responsible for growing as a gymnast.  I can provide you with corrections, feedback, drills, and conditioning that will help you.  And I will.  I will continue to provide you with every opportunity to learn and improve.  I will not give up.  You have to take all of the tools provided and use them to be the best you.

15.  Gymnastics does not define you.  It will help to create you.  It will provide you with many fantastic opportunities, but you will always be a person first.  Moving up a level, learning a new skill, missing a qualification, falling off the beam … none of those situations change how I feel about you.  I care about you as a person.  I care that you are happy and healthy.  I care that you are reaching your goals.  I care that you become the best you.

Sincerely,

Hannah

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