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A Hard Conversation about Ethics and Morals in Gymnastics with Thomas Elder

Today on the podcast I’m very excited to bring you a thought-provoking and important conversation about cultural change, morals, and ethics of coaching with Tom Elder. 

Former assistant coach for the University of Pennsylvania and the Temple Men’s Team as well as an advisor for full-out recruiting services. In addition to coaching for 13 years, he also has an extensive education in Philosophy. 

His Undergrad was in Philosophy at the University of Akron and he’s currently studying a master’s in Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He had my brain turning after talking and I spent a lot of time journaling and reflecting on my own personal coaching experiences. 

A lot of his research is focused, child autonomy in abuse in youth sports, which is obviously a very important topic that we’re dealing with right now in gymnastics. 

It’s great to hear the duality between what the academic literature says and how he pulls that out and applies it to his everyday coaching. With the day to day issues that come up related to injuries, fears, motivation cultural problems, and the development of the athlete holistically and so it’s a super interesting conversation you should check out, really think deep about some of the things we say, maybe break it up into a couple of sessions and journal on it. We discuss: 

  • We discuss what is ethics and how is it relative to gymnastics?
  • Gymnastics crisis with autonomy.
  • Four years of being a successful gymnast are not worth 40 years of having to take the elevator.
  • As your morals appropriate and relevant? Where is the boundary line? Are we starting to impose values on children?
  • The importance of consent. 
  • Is the sport really progressing? Or is it just getting harder?
  • The difference between discipline and obedience. 

To listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher click below:

A Hard Conversation about Ethics and Morals in Gymnastics with Thomas Elder


Hope it helps!

– Dave

Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
CEO/Founder of SHIFT Movement Science