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Changing “Unspoken Rules” in Gymnastics Culture with Natalie Barker-Rutchi

Gymnastics culture has “unspoken rules” and norms that have developed slowly in the last 30 years.

There are some that are very beneficial. Like always help new coaches learn or using drills for skills due to danger.

Unfortunately, there are also some very detrimental ones. Like some gyms that believe time off is a bad thing or very aggressive coaching methods are the only way to achieve success.

Then, there are straight-up dangerous ones that some gyms have. Like gymnasts shouldn’t eat carbs because it will “make them fat” or that yelling at a gymnast is okay.

It’s crucial to know where these norms come from, and what influences them.

Without understanding the good or bad ones, and their sources, it’s hard to either continue improving a culture for the better or to stop harmful behavior.

I sat down with an international expert and researcher on this topic, Natalie Barker-Rutchi, to dive into these things.

You can find the book she co-wrote on socio-cultural norms in women’s artistic gymnastics here. You can find one of her popular research papers on punishment methods in gymnastics here.

We discuss

  • How “unspoken rules” come to be in gymnastics gyms
  • The balance of proper health coaching guidance to over-controlling athletes
  • How to change a culture that is toxic or dangerous
  • How to work with coaches, gymnasts, or parents who are not open minded
  • The steps that gymnastics professionals need to take for real change
  • Why conditioning should never be used as a punishment
  • Ways to boost motivation and drive in gymnsats in a healthy way

And more!

You can check out the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher below!

Changing “Unspoken Rules” in Gymnastics Culture with Natalie Barker-Rutchi


Hope it helps!

– Dave

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