Confessions: 20 Terribly Rotten, Awful and Horrible Things Coaches Do to Ruin Gymnasts’ Lives


I was reading an article that had me laughing pretty hard about the “terrible” things that parents do their kids, like make them blow their noses, not touch hot stoves and even wear their seat belts and refrain from juggling kitchen knives.

It got me thinking of the “awful” things that we as coaches do to our gymnasts. So, I turned to Facebook to ask my gym coach friends to confess their “horrible” behavior.

Names have been left off to protect the guilty.

  1. “I’m so terrible that I don’t even let my kids jump on the trampoline when they are supposed to be ready for their turn on bars. Can you believe it?”
  1. “I’m the worst: the kids aren’t allowed to play in the gym unsupervised before practice.”
  1. “I’m awful because I don’t let my kids run around the gym and pick and choose what they want to do and when, like a park. I make them follow directions (gasp!) and even encourage them to try new things while teaching them to walk safely through the gym. Crazy, right?!”
  1. “I wouldn’t let my teens chew gum and gossip all class long. I also made young children go upside down. The horror!”
  1. “I’m the worst about never letting the children dip themselves in chalk. Or roll in it. Or eat it. Or decorate themselves like tribal elders. It’s something I’m working on in therapy.”
  1. “I’m actually terrible to the parents in parent and me class.  I don’t let them jump on the trampoline, attempt first time back flips, eat their lunch in gym and I even expect them to be inside gym and participate in the class!”
  1. “I don’t let my athletes text during practice. Or go on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat. In fact, I make them leave their phones in their lockers and actually take them away if I catch them out during practice. One teen threatened to report my “theft” of her phone to the police.”
  1. “I expect the kids to get their grips on within three minutes of the rotation beginning. And by kids, I mean optional level who have been wearing grips for years.”
  1. “I hold my competitive gymnasts accountable for completing their assignments.”
  1. “I require my gymnasts to take more than one turn before chalking up, even though their parents PAY FOR the chalk and I am ridiculous.”
  1. “I had the temerity to suggest that taking the summer off to travel would lessen the chances of a gymnast moving up levels. I was told that my comment was a threat designed to punish their family time.”
  1. “I once made a kid lose a turn after he pinched me because he didn’t get to be first. The parent complained to my boss that I was ‘misusing my authority.’”
  1. “I have a crazy rule that kids need to attend practice the week before a meet.”
  1. “If I catch my athletes cheating on conditioning, I am a mean monster because I make them start over.”
  1. “I am an “incompetent coach” because I wouldn’t move a level 4 into our level 9-10 group simply because the parents wanted her to train with more “advanced” kids so she could be challenged.”
  1. “I neglecting my gymnasts’ needs because I don’t carry a spare set of grips for each kid in case they forgets to bring theirs to a meet.”
  1. “ We don’t let them just “throw a skill” in a competition that they haven’t trained successfully (because, obviously, we do not want them to succeed…)”.
  1. “At our club we force the gymnasts to listen to 80’s music if they are not working hard enough. I KNOW!”
  1. “We don’t let them have more than one at a time on the trampoline. So mean!”
  2. “I don’t let you get a band-aid unless you are actually bleeding. Not even if you tilt your head or bat your eyes.