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Gym Etiquette: Three simple things to do at gymnastics training

Clubs are starting to finally open their doors. This means there is so much work to get done. Gymnasts, coaches and parents are excited to be back, but after spending a long time at home there has been time for everyone to reflect on what needs to be back in our gyms and what needs to stay in the past. An athlete's behaviour is more important than people think. It affects oneself's and others reactions and mood in the gym environment. Having a safe and happy environment is essential because when training our mindset is just as important as our physical condition. Here we have a few gym etiquette rules that you should always follow, no matter your age or level.

1. Don't look down on anyone We get it, a gym is a competitive place where people try to show what they can do. Having gymnasts classified in levels makes the place have a very defined hierarchy and it is normal to see gymnasts comment on the performance of others with less experience, or at least having a sense of power that maybe makes them a little too proud. And hey, we have all done it. Most times, gymnasts don't even realize they are looking down on someone else, and they certainly don't mean any harm. However, when someone with more experience looks down on a fellow teammate, it can be very intimidating. We don't want to discourage anyone who shares a love for the sport, especially if they are a member of our same club. After all, it's in our own interest for the club to have plenty of members and these to do well, and this will only happen if all members are friendly to each other. 2. Only Constructive Criticism Allowed

Important feedback should ideally be given by coaches, but we all have a trick or two to share with our teammates, and that is absolutely fantastic! But there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Here are a few things to take into account:

  1. Is your critique going to be useful in any way? Or is it going to only make the listener feel bad about it? If there isn't a way to fix the critique you are giving, you may as well keep it to yourself.

  2. The wording is important. There are many ways to say the same thing. Pick the nicest.

  3. The feedback sandwich method. This is a way to give feedback that can be applied to RG. It consists of highlighting a positive aspect, the comment on something that needs to be improved and finish off by praising another element. This is an example:

"Your routine was very artistic and fluid. One thing you need to work on these next few weeks is your leaps because they were a bit heavy landed. I was really impressed with your apparatus work, you have definitely improved on that!"

3. Control Your Emotions When we are back in the gym, let's all try to keep the drama away. This is not an easy task, especially when we are getting close to competitions. But part of RG is to learn to not let our emotion take over when we need to be focused. It's completely normal to feel angry and drop a tear or two at competitions or training when things don't go our way, your emotion is valid! But throwing a tantrum after a routine or feeling like it's the end of the world can affect the athlete and others negatively and be a bit unprofessional.

By any means, we should not encourage anyone to repress their feelings, but coaches should look for tools for their gymnasts to cope with disappointment. And athletes themselves should try to work on this. Mindfulness is a very good way to help gymnasts control their feelings. Applying cognitive behavioural training (CBT) into our coaching style is something that we coaches should look into.

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