12 Powerful Things to Say to Your Gymnasts


“Straighten your legs.”

“Run faster.”

“Hit the board harder.”

“Point your toes.”

“Tap earlier.”

“Drive your heels.”


These are just a handful of things coaches say on a daily basis at the gym.

But what are the things that we can say to the kids we teach that have nothing to do with correcting their gymnastics?

Here are a dozen ideas:

  1. I’m glad to see you. Everyone likes to feel like they matter. Greeting your athletes warmly sets the right tone for practice.
  2. How are you today? More than just a throw away formality, asking how your athlete is feeling is important in gauging what intensity of a workout you can do that day.
  3. Thank you. Showing gratitude is both good modeling and makes athletes feel respected.
  4. I’m sorry. If you mess up it builds your credibility (not reduces it) when you show your accountability.
  5. I believe in you. Believing in your athletes and their ability to learn and improve is essential in teaching or coaching.
  6. I am here for you. Sometimes that is what our athletes need to know, that we are here from them when they don’t feel they can get through things alone.
  7. It’s okay, try again. Normalizing failure and asking the athlete to preserve in the face of it not only creates great gymnast, but resilient kids.
  8. All I am asking for is your best effort. While athletes may not be able to control the outcome, they can always control the effort they put forth.
  9. I need you to… When you really need an instruction to be followed, tell your athlete that in clear and simple terms.
  10. It’s just one workout (or meet)… Helping an athlete reframe a rough day at the gym or at a competition by reminding them that it is just a snapshot not the whole picture places a bad day in perspective.
  11. I care about you as a person more than as a gymnast. We all want to be cared about for who we are, not what we do.
  12. Nothing.  Sometimes just listening is better than saying anything.

What else would you add to this list?