Posts Tagged ‘Cheer


Things I bet you never thought about when you got your kids in sports (Part 2)

In the last post we looked at several considerations that parents have to make when getting their kids enrolled in sports. There is a lot more to this parenting thing then just signing them up. Often some of the things that parents go through are not too difficult if someone would only have given them a “heads up”. Well…. Heads up.

Here is the second part of the series. Last time we presented 2 categories, one on perspective and one on sacrifice. Here are the final two.

In the category of “Sometimes Sports Aren’t Pretty”

  1. Be careful that your child doesn’t ONLY identify themselves as an athlete. Yes, they may be a gymnast, or a swimmer, or dancer, but they are also more than that. As a parent you are charged with the task of giving them opportunities to also be that something else. Be a sister, be a scientist, be a mountain climber, be a whatever. Be sure that they see themselves as more than the sport. As I mentioned, the day will come when the leave the sport; what will they feel they can be then?
  2. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. There will be times when your son
    Gymfinity Gymnasts

    (L to R) Bri, Kendra, Yuki, Lexi and (Front) Kaisey 2007

    or daughter will win honors, but there will be more times when they don’t. I have had athletes train all year for a chance to qualify to a championship meet only to have one bad routine and miss their chance. It’s soul crushing. There will be more consolations then congratulations; but, I look at it as a learning process. If we learn about what to do, or what not to do, then we didn’t really lose did we?. As a coach it’s often difficult to console an athlete after a disappointing performance, but we understand that it’s 10x harder for the mom and dad. You have everything from taking them home, seeing them the next morning, and bringing them back to the gym and all the minutes in-between. We understand, and we will help support you and the athlete, but make no bones about it, we don’t envy your position.

  3. Sports help kids develop in so many ways. They learn more life lessons through 5 years in sports than the average kid may learn in 20 years of living. But though they are advanced for their age, they are still young. Kids are still kids and they have problems processing emotions or grasping complex concepts. On occasion I have had to remind coaches that they might see highly trained gymnasts, but all that talent and skill is housed inside a young child. As a parent, you know that they might be advanced, but they are still your child. They will need opportunity to express themselves like children do. It may take time, or when puberty hits, it may take patience on your part, but give them the space to be kids. That is what they need for healthy development.

 The last category is called “Parent’s Wake Up Call”

  1. Your job description may include counselor, driver, and cook; but it also includes manager. Kids in sport are usually pressed for time. Because of the demands of their training they learn how to manage their time to fit school work and sleep into their schedule. There will be times when you will have to oversee their schedule. Watch that they do get enough sleep, enough kid time, and enough time to just hang out with the Fam. On meet weekends you will need to budget travel time to be able to travel, eat, and still be there for warm ups. You may need to have them study in the car, or eat dinner on the way to the gym until they start to develop their skills of time management.
  2. Your job description will also include the title of Angel Investor. Being a sport parent requires not only the investment of your time, but it requires a financial commitment as well. It may require being creative to find ways to cover expenses, for example, we have scholarship opportunities for work-study programs at Gymfinity. I have had parents sign up for cleaning duties after practice not because they need the financial break, though some do, but because they want to show their athlete that there is a value to their training. I have a lot of respect for that decision. It’s humbling. It may also be hard to have to make tough decisions on when to spend money and when to not spend. It may feel like you are being too tough, but every family has different circumstances. Again, for us, family is a priority. We don’t want to put parents in a position to have to short change one child to pay for another.

In any case, we know that parenting an athlete can be different than you may have thought it would be. Yes, there are some great times, some memories are never forgotten. There may be times when it is stressful to see the sacrifices of time, money, or social events. Worse yet, sometime all the sacrifice doesn’t pay off, maybe she falls off the beam, or falls on her vault. It could happen, but remember that sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.


Things I bet you never thought about when your kids got into sports (Part 1)

 Many is the morning when a parent wakes up and has to drive their athlete/child to a meet out of town. They think to themselves “Why did I let her do gymnastics?” Then they get up, get dressed and chauffeur the gymnast to the meet. Ah…. parenting is hard work.

So why do they do it? Some get their kids into sports to learn skills, to exceed how good they, the parent, was at a sport, or to just have a constructive fitness activity. Some are looking for social development or the affective development of winning humbly and losing graciously. Whatever the reason, sports gives us way more for our kids than we anticipate. Read any of my other posts to see how much I believe in the benefit of sport.

Gymfinity Gymnastics

For Gymnastics moms, coffee is a must.

But there is another side of the coin. There are considerations that we may not have thought of when our kids got involved in gymnastics, or other sports. Here are a few considerations that we must have as sports parents. As a parent and a coach for over 30 years, I have included a few bits of advice for free. You’re welcome.

In the category of “Keep Your Perspective Mom”:

  1. To you they are the best in the world, but that might not be the case. We must be satisfied with knowing that the sport may not offer our children international fame or a college scholarship. It’s ok to know that the sport or activity just makes them happy. If they are having fun and learning (physically, mentally, and emotionally) then we have a champion in the family regardless of results.
  2. It may be the same sport you or Dad did when you were young, but this is a totally different person, with a completely different set of circumstances: they have different parents, different timing, different peers, different coaches, and are in a different era than you. Give them the space to be themselves, let them participate at their own level of comfort. You will see that they will exceed their own expectations. If they don’t exceed yours, then that’s your problem. Deal with it, but don’t throw it on them.
  3. You will have to plan for their retirement. Every athlete has a day when they don’t play anymore. If you think ahead and plan for things to do when they retire, then you won’t be stressed out when it happens. Sometimes kids quit by choice, maybe they feel it’s too hard or they’re over their head. Maybe it’s not fun anymore. Maybe, they are retiring because of an injury. Whatever the case we must support them if they make the choice. I always tell my team kids that I will support their decision if it’s well thought out and if it’s not just because they are frustrated. Frustrations can be overcome, so it’s not a good reason. I tell them, and it’s true, that, as a coach, I will be sad and disappointed but not angry. Many young athletes fear making the coach mad. Be sure, as a parent, that they don’t have that same fear with you.

 New category: The sacrifices.

  1. Being an athlete is demanding and the team is a hungry monster that is never satisfied. The sport will require a specific schedule. It will demand some early mornings and some late nights. It may ask that your child leave school early to travel to a meet, or it may ask that you leave work early to drive them. In any case be prepared to make some sacrifices for the team and the sport. It will be worth it every time you see her smile up at you from the competition floor.
  2. When your child gets to a level of performance where outside factors can affect performance you will find that you will have to develop new habits to support the athlete. Less fast food, more salad (this was tough for me). You will no longer be able to be a “walk-it-off” parent. Because now a twisted ankle may keep them from the game, so you tend to have it looked at instead of letting them shake it off. My favorite story in this category is about one parent that slept on the uncomfortable hotel room sleeper couch so her daughter could get a good night sleep on the bed. See what I mean? Sacrifice.
  3. It may be hard to keep your perspective on the 2 things that always matter more than sports: family and school. At our gym we do not require kids to home school or tutor (many gyms do) because our mission is to develop a well-rounded child, that means social development in school. But often school must work around the sport. As I mentioned sometimes they may have to leave school early, or have homework delivered in a bunch because they will miss a few days of school while travelling to a meet or game. Family for us, is always a priority. I have kids miss training for birthdays, grandparent’s visits, or other family events. I am not as understanding about missing a meet for those reasons, but I can be flexible. Remember what I said above, sports are selfish, they will ask for your sacrifices, but you don’t always have to give in. Prioritize.

Next time we will explore that last two categories: “Sometimes Sports Aren’t Pretty” and “Parents Wake Up Call”.


Training Confident Kids (part 1)

I had some people ask me questions regarding a past post discussing motivation and it’s relation to confidence.  Here is the first of a 2 part post on Confidence and how we get kids to be more confident.

As coaches, we always want the best for our athletes. We train them physically to be strong, flexible and powerful. We train them cognitively to know the skills, routines, and rules. And we train them emotionally to be strong, brave, and confident. Or do we?

For our discussion lets explain confidence in relation to our comfort level in doing things. Our comfort levels are depicted by a box. Within the box we have everything that we are comfortable with, things we do easily, people we know, experiences that range from typical to mundane. Right outside the box are new and different things.  Experiences that put us on edge, make us a little uncomfortable, new places, people, and things. Far away from the box are the things we are very unsure of; things we feel very uncomfortable with, things that make us stressed or nervous.

Confidence is developed by knowing we can perform or interact with the world in a way that is comfortable to us. Things we do that are within our comfort box can be done confidently and things outside might be done with less confidence.

While the majority of our lives occur within our comfort box, it’s only when we reach outside the walls of the box  that we can truly grow and learn. Our comfortable box is where we wish everything to be, but sadly, that is not reality. In the box, we often operate by rote memory, we do our routines and our day to day existence just seems to happen. Chicken or egg? Are we comfortable in that “box” because we do things there easily, or are things easy because we have the confidence to do them? The answer is both.

I remember as a young baseball player, I played 3rd base, shortstop, second base, and catcher. Our coaches rotated us, what seemed at times to be, randomly. It’s likely that they were trying to find our ideal position, the place where we were comfortable playing and where we would be the most effective for the team. But what it also did was allow us to “try” other positions; positions outside of our comfortable little boxes. This was imperative for expanding our proverbial comfort zone as players and as kids.

We are always being advised to “step outside the comfort zone”, or “think outside the box”. When we are confronted with occasional challenges, it allows us to expand our acceptable “zone” or, put another way, our “box” gets bigger and more of the world outside comes within.

When we are no longer afraid of stepping outside the comfort zone, we find that the space within, where we feel in control, becomes bigger. When our coaches moved us around, often unexpectedly, we found that we became a more confident team. I know personally that I gained a lot of confidence because I knew I could handle more than I originally had thought.

For another example, let’s take a gymnast learning a new skill. At first the skill is new and requires focus and a lot of effort. After practicing it for a bit it gets added to the repertoire and becomes “just another thing she can do.” It no longer causes her stress or discomfort, it has become “easy.” But, that same gymnast no longer trains that skill, it is possible for her to “lose” it. That’s obvious. But also, if that gymnast is not challenged with performing the skill in a new combinations, on a new apparatus, or in a performance situation, like a meet or a public demonstration, the skill again may equally be lost. Coaches have to allow that gymnast to perform the learned skills under pressure so that when that skill is needed in a meet performance  it falls within the skills in the comfort box. When it does, it reinforces confidence in performance and positions the athlete to seek more new skills and more growth.

Confidence come from challenges

Confidence come from challenges

Sometimes we can be asked to reach far away from the box; this is when we have greater discomfort over a task or skill. When we feel that we are over our head or incapable of performing, it manifests as a lack of confidence and the feeling can be so strong that we believe that we cannot be successful without the help of someone else.

When an athlete  has rarely been challenged to step outside their comfortable box and are then confronted with change or challenge, they often cannot adapt. Usually this person must rely on others to carry them or assist them through their tasks. I have seen this situation in several scenarios: kids who freeze up, suddenly cannot do more simple skills, or devolve progressions for new skills. There are other reasons that these outcomes may occur too, but it’s often the lack of confidence is the culprit.

Confident people have a larger comfort box and  it affords them a expanded ability to adapt and feel adept.  Also, by occasionally being challenged it allows for a greater tolerance for uncertainty, which means that the areas that cause panic are minimal. However, people with confidence are not fearless. They do experience fears but the fear is often mitigated by both feeling that they can accomplish things with a little  effort, and/or with minimal help. Confident people have either made choices to be challenged or had life throw them enough curve balls that they have learned that they have the capacity to hit any pitch. Or more easily put; they’ve learned, by adaptation, to figure out problems and conquer what once seemed daunting.

Next time: 5 things we can do to create more confidence in our kids.


A note from me about Success

Every year I write notes of encouragement to my competitive team kids, hoping that maybe some blue day that the little nugget might bolster their spirits. I was looking up some quotes on working through problems, perseverance, and success but the notes I was making for myself turned into a blog post instead.

All of the people I researched said similar things: “work hard” (Vince Lombardi), “do it now” (Mark Twain and Thomas Edison), and “keep challenging yourself” (Richard Branson). But these were cliché and I felt that they were just a “given”, meaning they all elicited a No Kidding response when I found them.  Work and determination are characteristics that are pounded out in every speech these kids hear. So I anticipated a “yeah yeah yeah” response if I themed it that way. I personally believe that people do want challenge but only if there is a great possibility of beating it. We don’t mind a good challenge as long as we get a self-esteem bump when it’s done. We are so fixated on winning that we can’t see that sometimes there is more value in being faced down by a challenge than in facing the challenge down. Challenge is a possible theme but sometimes it beats us, and that’s OK in my book. So maybe not challenge as a theme.

So I looked into the opposite side of the coin. What not to do, to be successful. But there were the same cliché responses. Steve Jobs said “Don’t waste time (do it now), don’t waste it living someone else’s life or living someone else’s thinking (dogma).  Bill Gates said to succeed that we cannot fear change. (actually he said: with time people will learn to accept their silicone masters -as a joke). But the points of each Gates and Jobs are true, we need independence, creative thought, and to be open to change. Again, no kidding was all I could muster. So no-go on Gates or Jobs.

You have the luxury to define your success

You have the luxury to choose your own outcome.

Winston Churchill said that we shouldn’t shirk from criticism, because it calls attention to what needs attention. I like that. He said it’s like pain in the body, when we feel it, we know what to attend to first. I like it but after further thinking I thought that my job is to criticize gymnasts. “Make it higher, make it faster, better, but do one more, and point your toes” are all critiques and so I felt utilizing Churchill was like saying “Listen to me.” The reality is that I coach great kids and they are respectful, hard working, and dedicated. I rarely have to say “listen to me” because they already do. So sorry Winston, you didn’t make the cut.

So I came up with this, hopefully it’s new enough thinking to make them pay attention. Hopefully it’s motivating, and hopefully it’s positive..

You have the luxury to choose your own outcome, to stick your own label on at the end of the day. You have the power to define victory, the strength to affect your own evaluation, and you alone should set your standard for your performance.

If you set out to beat other people then you will only experience defeat, even as they hang a medal around your neck. If you set out to get a medal or a trophy you will not be satisfied even when it’s handed to you. Your victory will only come when you have defined it’s terms.

I have told you all that losers are the ones who gave up, they never learn and aren’t open to lessons from loss. That won’t be you.

I believe that there are Winners and there are Learners. If you come out less than you anticipated then you must define your plan to return for the next attempt and guarantee yourself better results. And since winners determine their own definition of victory, then your definition, regardless of medals or trophies, should be to learn from every experience. When you are open to learning, you can NEVER lose.


See also: Our gym page at


why you should slow down on fast food

Look, gloves off, here is the straight scoop about fast food. I have written before how fast food is more a function of economics over taste or preference. I myself am not a total stranger to the drive through window, but I know that I indulge in that only once or twice a month.  Also, I am under no illusion that I am getting real food, I know I am filling my gut for a short term solution to a time crunch, period.

We all know that a regular diet that includes fast food will lead to  weight gain and can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes. That’ s a fact, and if you didn’t know that…..well, now you do.

Her’s another fact: let’s start with breakfast. Fast food eggs are made of dimethylpolysiloxane (found in lubricants and silly putty) and gycerin (found in soap). Though it might be better to just eat the soap and lube because other menu items might be surprising too. For instance, most fast food burgers contain only about 2 to 14% real meat. Most of the patty is chemical filler, that’s why they don’t spoil. When something doesn’t rot, you can bet it’s not organic or natural.  So forget the beef, get the chicken.

looks harmless

looks harmless

Maybe not. “Dad, which part of the chicken is the nugget?” Great question. It’s actually from various parts. In fact it’s from a process called mechanical separation: which is made from a slimy soup created from processed bones and other unusable carcass parts. (Mmmm right?) So, skip the chicken and go for a salad.

Hold the fork because even the salad choices are suspect. For example, a BK salad is 500 calories with 28 grams of fat and a day’s worth of sodium. But sadly still, probably your best choice. But often the salads are loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup, a cheap sweetener (definitely in the soft drinks and desserts) and a study from Princeton showed HFCS as a major cause of obesity.

Did you also know that fast food can be addictive? Yup, a study by Garber & Lustig shows a correlation of addictive behavior and fast food consumption. The CDC explains that obesity has gone up 100% in children and 300% in adolescents since 1984. So let’s connect the dots: HFCS causes obesity, HFCS is in many fast food menu options. Obesity is in a raging increase. Draw your conclusion.

For a healthy choice for your kids see: Our gym page at


Choosing sports

Kids today are faced with so many choices. When it comes to activities should they do an academic program (one of my sons does a Lego Robot class, the other takes Spanish)? Should they do community or volunteer programs? Should they do sports? If so which one? Swimming is a life skill. Tennis is a life-long activity. Gymnastics is a foundation for all other sports. Baseball is a great team sport that promotes socialization. So much to consider.

Understand also that if you choose the activity, or the sport for your child then the child doesn’t have any ownership in the decision. It becomes just another thing you tell them to do, like cleaning a room, picking up socks or taking out trash. If they have no input on the choice I will assure you that their participation will be short lived.Kids Play is AWESOME

Sometimes kids just can’t make a decision. Then it is imperative that we offer some guidance. However, this is one of those things where we need o make kids feel that they are making a decision, even though we are guiding the process. We can look up YouTube videos of the sport being played, we can travel to competitions to watch, or we can read books (on paper? What?) about a sport. I have even had kids make lists of what they like and don’t like about sports and then guide the decision by offering positives and help the decision.  In my case, and with my children, my wife and I talked about our experiences in gymnastics. We talked about how fun it was for us, and all the things we learned by being gymnasts. (Oh, and I should add that we own the gym so it was convenient and cost effective as well as a natural progression of their built-in playground.)

Lastly, whatever the choice, let them play it out, so to speak. Maybe they find that they don’t really like it, like we experienced with soccer and basketball. But we made the kids finish the season because that was the commitment they made. They needed to know that decisions need to be followed by action. But now my kids have chosen sports and activities that they love and we encourage them in every way we can. Read back a few posts and review the post about When Parents Make Kids Love Sports. We need to let them know, win or lose, we love the fact that they are playing. 


When parents make kids love sports

I learned an invaluable lesson from the fine folks at Proactive Sports. No matter how my kids perform at a meet or a game I convey the message that I love to watch them play.  That concept is why kids often prefer that their grandparents come to see them in meets. They know that there is no judgment. The older, wiser grandparents convey appreciation for just getting on the floor or field. That makes kids feel great. Parents, as observed in the last post, are often critical of performance for many reasons  but mostly because they want their child to do better.  What I think is funny is that those same accepting grand folks that just love those kids to pieces were the same ones who railed on us for missing a catch or blowing a play. I guess there is something to be said for becoming wiser with age.

As you know from previous postings, I am a big believer in kids being in sport to help them develop into healthy and functional members of society; and in the last post I explained how parents sometimes inadvertently lead their kids away from sports. So it’s only fair that we discuss  a few things that will make them love the sports, love being a player and love you parents even more than they do.

First BE A TRUE FAN, at Gymfinity we encourage parents to cheer for good gymnastics where ever it may come from. We ask them to appreciate the performance of every kid at a meet, not just the kids from Gymfinity. If the parent loves the sport, the child will love doing the sport. Its that simple.SHirt

We also tell parents that when they are in the stands that they represent their daughter or son. Would your child be proud of your behavior?  There should be no bleacher talk or negative criticism of athletes, coaches, programs, judges, or meets. When your child see that you are supportive and positive it allows them to perform confidently knowing that when they do their best, you will accept it.  If kids have a bad meet or game, they know it, and they don’t need to hear from another person that it didn’t go well.  One of the best examples I can think of is when we travelled over 8 hours to a big meet and my gymnast did not perform optimally.  I discussed with her where we needed to apply our efforts before the next meet and we weighed out positives from the experience and lessons we could own from the negatives. She felt awful, but was accepting. When we went over by her mom and dad, her dad picked her up and hugged her without saying a word. The mom said, “where would you like to eat, your choice?” Unconditional, affectionate and accepting. Well done.

Lastly, at Gymfinity we explain that everyone has a role to play at a meet (or game). The athlete is there to perform. It’s what they trained for and they need our help to focus and give them their space to to do their job. The coaches job is to guide the athlete. All training should have been done before the meet/game and coaching at a competition should be limited to reinforcing performance. The coaches other job is to guarantee that the rules are working. If scores need to be questioned or inquiries made, the coach is on the job. Lastly the parent has a job too. They cheer. Period. Before, during, after. I believe that if we all respect each other’s jobs we will have a positive experience. If the roles get crossed there will be confusion and someone, or everyone,  is not going to be happy.

The advice from Proactive Coaching to tell your child that you love watching them play is so important. It validates their effort, allows them space to own their own sports. When your child is ready to talk about how the meet or game went, they will give you a window of opportunity to have that conversation. When you are invited, participate. It means that now they are ready to hear your opinion. But remember that your opinion is only your opinion. It’s not the game plan for next time, its not establishing goals for your child and it’s certainly not putting conditions or their performance.

I learned that after a meet, I tell my kids how I had fun watching what they could do, that I love to see the improvements they made. I usually add about how I enjoyed talking with other team parents. My kids know that I enjoy going to meets. Usually after a bit one of them will say, “did you see when I….?” or “Did you see how I…..? Window opens and the conversation happens. But it always comes back around to how I love watching them do their stuff.

April 2018
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