We are living through one of the most chaotic eras of gymnastics. In light of recent scandals, hundreds of gymnasts have spoken up saying they did not have good experience for a variety of reasons.
Abusive coaching methods, a “win and at all costs” mentality, a lack of scientific and interdisciplinary approaches to training, and leaders with misguided motivations for working in gymnastics are a few. There are also many amazing coaches, parents, and support staff working in the sport who feel massive cultural change is needed.
Alongside this, it is well known that the sport of gymnastics has extremely high
- Injury rates across many age/competitive levels (research here, here, here. and here)
- Burnout rates (research here, here, and here)
- Concerns with early specialization/year-round training/high training hours (research here, here, here, here, and here)
- Mental health issues in athletes (research here, here and here)
- Disordered eating or more serious issues like RED-S (research here, here, here, here, and here)
Anyone who has been following the huge wave of discussion after the abuse scandal, Athlete A, the #GymnasticsAlliance movement, and many brace athletes speaking up for change, knows we must overhaul the way we think about training in gymnastics. This has been an international movement, with multiple countries and levels of gymnasts saying change is essential for the future of our sport.
Small changes, PR media statements, and ‘tweaks’ to handling reports of inappropriate coaching will not work.
While I don’t think everything about how we approach the sport, particularly with young gymnasts, needs to be thrown out, there is a great deal of work that needs to be done in order to keep gymnasts healthy, happy, and high performing.
I do not have all of the answers, nor am I doing everything perfectly. However, I do have a very unique point of view and have been fortunate to learn from many amazing gymnastics professionals in the last 10 years of consulting, traveling, speaking, reading research, and clinical work.
I have taken the last 3 months to create a 4 part lecture sharing my thoughts on the harder conversations we need to have, and bigger systematic issues that are in need of being addressed. Within the lecture, I frame the conversation around what our gym is doing to change following Athlete A, the #GymnasticsAlliance movement, and COVID19.
It is titled “Discussion a New Model for Gymnastics: A Collaborative Effort To Maximize Health, Happiness, and High Performance”
It is broken up into 4 parts, and one will be released each week for the next month. They are
- Part 1 – Global Values
- Part 2 – Macro Principles
- Part 3 – Micro Principles
- Part 4 – Competitive Planning
My hope is that the gymnastics community listens, gives feedback, and then it can be a group effort to find the best methods and principles that work. This is in an effort to make athletes, coaches, parents, and anyone else involved happier with the sport we work in.
Part 1 is now available in podcast form, or if you would like to see all 4 parts in video form with PDF slides and the bonus material, you can join our monthly group The Hero Lab.
Click below for iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher podcast episodes.
Discussion a New Model for Gymnastics: A Collaborative Effort To Maximize Health, Happiness, and High Performance
I hope it is useful, and hope you have a great week!
Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
CEO/Founder of SHIFT