Getting kids to pay attention can be challenging. As a parent, how many times have you wondered if they’re even listening? Coaches are not immune to this – whether it’s a kid who is more interested in everything else going on around them, or a teenager whose main form of adult communication tends to be an eye-roll, Coaches often feel the same frustration when trying to give feedback.
We might get frustrated, but are we teaching our kids how to properly cope with receiving feedback? Hearing, accepting, and implementing feedback is a critical skill for life and gymnastics practice is a perfect place to practice this important competence. Below are some quick tips to help your gymnast hear, receive, and implement feedback:
Pause after your turn and wait for feedback. Rather than walking away to join your friends in line while your coach talks to the back of your head, pause and wait for them to give you feedback. There is almost always something you can do differently on your next turn and doing this shows your coach that you’re ready and willing to receive feedback.
Make eye contact. Looking your coach in the eye shows to them that you’re paying attention and that you’re ready to listen to what corrections they have for you. No, eye rolling doesn’t count as eye contact.
Nod. Nodding communicates that you are listening and understand what’s being told to you.
Repeat the correction back to your coach. Repeating what your coach has to say, communicates that you’ve not only listened to what they had to say, but you also understand what is expected of you for your next turn.
Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand what your coach has requested of you, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes describing the way a body should move doesn’t always translate well. Terminology could also be new depending on the skill, so it’s not uncommon to be unfamiliar with a coach’s request. Speak up if you don’t understand and ask for clarification on what they mean when they say “drive your heels!”
Ask for additional guidance. If verbal instruction isn’t doing the trick, ask your coach if there’s something more you could be doing. Perhaps he has some drills that could help with form or strength. Private lessons are also a great option when you find yourself hitting a wall and could use a little extra attention.
Smile and say thank you. Your coach isn’t just correcting you for fun. They’re here for you and want to see you improve and do your best. Say thank you so they know they’re appreciated for all the hard work that they do!