Today I want to talk about what your role is as a competitive gymnastics mom.
Gym moms, this article is for you if you have a competitive gymnast.
But before I begin, I just want to start out by saying: Don't hate me for this!
My advice might go against what comes naturally to you.
In fact, you might be thinking - I already know what my role is as a gymnastics mom. I should be supportive, encouraging, and know everything that is going on with my daughter's gymnastics journey.
On one hand, you're right.
You want what's best for your children.
So when your daughter does gymnastics, you WANT to be involved in her life which means you're going to be there. You're going to be at all of her meets and take her to practices and just be as involved as you possibly can.
Unfortunately, this also often translates into you wanting to find out every single thing about practice. You might bombard her with questions such as:
- How was practice?
- How is that skill coming along?
- How are you feeling?
- How did the coach treat you today?
- What happened in practice?
- Did you use the big mat today?
And you know what?!
Those constant questions overwhelm your gymnast and can actually do more harm than good!
So what I am telling you instead is to be a MOM. Not a gymnastics mom. Just be a mom.
What gymnasts REALLY need is a soft place to land.
They need a mom they can talk to when they need advice - one who isn't so invested in their gymnastics journey.
And I know that sounds counterintuitive because as a mom, you're going to do everything you can to help your daughter reach her dreams and goals.
Therefore when a gymnastics mental coach like myself comes along and tells you to step back and not get as involved, you might not like this advice.
You might not even agree with it.
Unfortunately, in gymnastics, because it's such a high pressure sport and because there are coaches who are always influencing your gymnast, there are all these outside pressures going on in gymnastics already.
Not to mention your gymnast is trying to learn ridiculous skills that are so hard and take a lot of mental work to achieve.
And so there's a lot of pressure from all over and as a gymnastics mom, when you pick up your daughter from practice and you ask her millions of questions, she just shuts down.
In fact her mind is processing everything that happened in practice and she might not want to talk about it in that moment. She's still processing. She's decompressing.
And that is okay. You have to accept that.
As a gymnastics mom, I suggest instead that you take a few steps back and you remember your ultimate role which is to be the parent. You are there to be the person she can talk to when she needs to.
And sometimes your gymnast doesn't want to talk to you. And that hurts.
Maybe she will want to talk to someone else. Maybe she needs to speak to a sports psychology expert or teammate about what's going on. Maybe she doesn't want to tell you about it.
And you have to be okay with that.
You have to be able to step back and remember that she's getting what she needs and it might not be from you.
I know that's hard! Trust me. I have my own athletes. And I know I've had to bite my tongue so many times when I wanted to step in and help or ask or be that person for my children. And sometimes they didn't want me to be that person and it hurts.
But that's sometimes what happens. So you just want to make sure that you're not adding extra pressure to your gymnast's life which you don't realize that you're doing because you're being a "good gym mom."
You're doing what you need to do. And you're asking questions and you're getting involved.
But sometimes you just have to take that step back and let them come to you.
So what CAN you do as a competitive gymnastics mom?
When you pick your gymnast up from practice, you can say, "How was practice today?" But if your gymnast says "Okay" and that's it, then let that be.
You don't keep prying. You don't ask more questions. You let it go.
And you know what? I have found, as a parent of athletes, that sometimes my children aren't ready to talk about what they just went through in practice or in competition. They're not ready to talk about it right then and there. But sometimes a few days later they are ready and in that moment they will open up and spill the beans to you.
They WILL tell you everything when you're not prying and you're not asking so much. Sometimes they just need that time to process everything that went on or even just to decompress and not think about it in that moment.
And when you're asking all these questions right away, it's just too much.
Remember - Don't be her coach. Be her mom.
The other thing as a gym mom that you shouldn't do is you shouldn't be her coach (figuratively speaking).
Let's say you're at your daughter's meet and after she finishes you give her constructive criticism for how to better at her next meet.
That's you being a coach. But your gymnast doesn't want another coach. She has enough of those in the gym already.
She doesn't need another person coaching her and giving her tips and telling her what to do.
She will tune you out. When you start to talk about stuff like that she doesn't want to hear it.
Instead she needs you to be that person who will listen to her when she needs you to, but who is not always giving her suggestions and advice and tips.
So my suggestion to you is to just, again, to step back and don't offer advice. If she asks you for it, then you certainly can offer it. But if she doesn't ask for it, don't offer it. Just be that wonderful place for her to come to when she needs a listening ear, when she needs a big hug, or when she needs some support that she's asking fo. Then you are there for her without a doubt.
Now, if your gymnast is really struggling, that's when you reach out to a mental toughness coach or someone who might need to really help them. Maybe she needs to talk to someone else other than you. And so there are cases when you do have to refer out.
But otherwise gymnasts can handle a lot of that on their own. They just need to kind of decompress and process it in their own way, which is different for every gymnast.
So those are some tips for you. Again, I know it's hard as a gymnastics mom to not want to step in and help and do everything you can. But trust me, by being that place that your gymnast can come to which is a warm and loving place, you are giving her everything she needs. I want you to practice that and if you have been doing it the other way, that's okay, because we all do. We all love our kids and we want to do those things, but just try to step back. Take a few steps back and see what happens. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised!
If you'd rather watch the video, you can check it out below. While you're at it, be sure to subscribe to Stick It Girl's YouTube Channel.
If you or your gymnast needs support, in addition to the resources below I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.
- Resources: Get gymnastics downloads to help your gymnast work on her mental skills in gymnastics
- Mental Health Training for Gymnasts: Help your gymnast learn about her brain and the fight-flight-or-freeze response.
- Free Facebook Group for Moms of Gymnasts: Join this group to chat with other gymnastics moms and get tips for how to help your gymnast navigate through the mental ups and downs of gymnastics