Who would have guessed that this little girl with pigtails would go on to be such a fierce gymnastics competitor? When Sam was little, she loved the gym and playing on all of the equipment. She couldn’t wait to get to practice and wanted to stay in the gym, long after her class had ended. So how do we help our daughters continue loving the gym and enjoying gymnastics as they progress through the levels? How do we help them avoid burnout?
I believe there are things parents can do to enhance their daughter’s gymnastics experience.
What worked for our family was lots of love, encouragement and support. Making sure we stayed away from the “coaching” aspect and let their coaches do the coaching (although, I admit, I tried to coach from the sidelines a few times and was abruptly informed by my daughters that I was not their coach)! I learned quickly that I should stay in my lane. It needs to be their desire to improve and move up the levels. They are the ones putting in the hard work, so it must be their desire to succeed.
And, they also need to know they can quit if they want. This is super important. If they don’t think you will allow them to quit, then they can feel trapped and have no control. Since I worked in the gymnastics world and was very ingrained in the community, I would periodically ask my girls, “Are you still enjoying gymnastics?” And I would remind them, “You know you can quit whenever you don’t like it anymore.” They would always respond, “MOM you know I love gymnastics.” However, I think it was important they knew it was their thing and they were in control.
Also, building a great group of gym friends is another important way to encourage your daughter to enjoy gymnastics. This was a big key to success with Sam and her training. She had an amazing group of friends at her gym and enjoyed spending time with them and doing what she loved (even when it was hard … super hard). We did lots of boat outings, sleep overs, birthday parties, dinners with families after meets, and nurturing these friendships. p.s. so much fun, great memories, well worth the effort and they are all still good friends today.
The trick is to keep the joy alive and make sure they are having fun! If they are having fun, they will progress up the ladder. And when things go wrong (and they probably will), managing the situation and getting through it.
There are many other things you can do, but this is a good starting point. Please share what things you’ve done to help your daughter avoid burnout.
I can’t wait to hear from all of you.