Ten Things Your Athlete Does Not Need You to Tell Them


“Sometimes being a parent means you know when to keep your mouth shut…” begins Janis Meredith’s wise article.

Ms. Meredith then lists 5 things that your athlete does not need to hear from you:

  1. Your doubts.
  2. Your nervousness.
  3. Your worries about getting hurt.
  4. Your unhappiness with the coaching staff.
  5. Your frustration with teammates.

All excellent advice, and to this I would add:

  1. Your criticism about their performance.
  2. Your feelings about their performance.
  3. Your forecasting about their potential.
  4. Your anxiety about the money spent on sports.
  5. Your lamenting about whether they should even do the sport.

In short, don’t bother your athlete with your feelings and anxieties and understand that as the adult the adult choices you make are yours and yours alone, not your child’s.

Is it normal to have doubts, nerves, fears, annoyances and stress about your child’s sport?

Sure. You’re a human who loves this tiny human that is your kid.

But it is neither useful nor appropriate to place your doubts, fears, annoyances and stresses on the shoulders of your child. Talk to a partner, a friend or family member or even a therapist. Take a break from watching practices and meets if needed.

As Ms. Meredith’s article so wisely concludes: “Your kids will learn a lot of skills as they play sports. But there’s one skill that you as a sports parent need to learn: the art of biting your tongue. It will save you a lot of unnecessary conflict and tension in your home.”



1. Remember: fun is essential. What was the tweet Nellie Biles sent her daughter Simone just before she began her first day of competition? It was this: “Long terms goal is here/embrace the experience and have fun. I love you – Mom.”

 2. Give her household responsibilities. Think Olympians are exempt from doing their part around the house? Think again. When a fan congratulated Anthony Hernandez, father of Laurie for being “all smiles,” the father quickly mentioned, “She doesn’t smile when she has to do her chores, which are waiting for her.”  Laurie is in good company. According to the Washington Post, Simone’s chores include feeding her four German shepherds, doing the dishes, and cleaning her room.

3. Always focus on personal best over victory. The internet blew up at the London games in 2012 with the Raisman’s all too relatable body language as Aly performed.   Mother Lynn explained in an interview with People “I get nervous because I know what goes into it and how many hours she’s prepared and how hard she is on herself, and I want her to be happy and go out there and do the best performance she can do. “So when it’s over, she is happy no matter the results…”

4. Be her biggest fan. Keep the focus on the child’s needs, allowing her to set her own goals. In this article, Madison Kocian says that her parents, Thomas and Cindy, are her biggest fans, “They will do anything to help me succeed and be happy.”

5. Be her role model. Laurie Hernandez’s mother, who was in the Army Reserves, is an inspiration to Laurie. Laurie says, “My mother was in the Army Reserve for six years. She taught me the importance of following rules, finishing what I start, never giving up, leadership skills, teamwork, staying positive, motivated and how to pack the military way when I’m traveling!”

6. Be there for her. After receiving a phone call from her daughter crying after a big competition, Gabby Douglas’ mom Natalie vowed to never miss another one of her competitions. “I heard her say that she was all alone and had no one to celebrate with. I cried and told her, ‘I will never miss another competition as long as you’re in this sport – no matter where you go on this continent or another. I will always be there for you. I don’t care if I have to stand on the side of the road and panhandle,” Natalie told the Chicago Tribune.

7. Know your role. Coaches coach. Parents parent. In the words of Nellie Biles, “”My job is mainly support and to help keep her focused, relaxed and grounded.”

8. Remember: You are raising a person, not a gymnast. Perhaps Wanda Hernandez said it best: ““Our goal as parents is to keep her grounded at all times. Regardless of the outcome in any meet or championship, we are truly proud and amazed of who she is as a person.”

For some terrific photos of the the Final Five parents watching their daughter perform, check out this great article!




Simone Biles is a role model for everyone who watches her or is fortunate enough to meet her. And there are probably hundreds of things we can learn from this amazing athlete and exceptional human being—but here are 12 that resonated.

Preparation is key. In the days leading up to her Olympic competition, Simone was calm, soothing her mom via video chat with a simple, “Mom, I’m ready.” The years of training under her belt, Simone knew that she had done all she could to arrive at this moment and that anxiety about how the performance would go would not be useful in her achieving her best.

Choice is vital in achieving high goals. As much as a parent or a coach may want it, the athlete must be the one who is ultimately making the choice to train. “You have to choose to do it,” Simone advised young fans who are chasing big dreams.

Hard work and fun are a winning combination.   Working hard is often cited in the recipe for success, but fun is often left out. Yet we know that 70% of kids quit sports before they are teens citing the number one reason: it was no longer fun. Simone is on to this: “Always work hard and have fun in what you do because I think that’s when you’re more successful,” Simone said.

Enjoy the journey. It’s easy to get caught up in the results, but the journey is what matters. Reflecting on her Olympic quest, “It’s been a long journey. I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it.”

Understand what “disappointment” is and is not. “I’m not disappointed in the medal that I received because anyone would love to have a bronze at an Olympics Games,” Biles stated. “But I’m disappointed in the routine that I did and not so much the whole entire routine, just the front tuck I guess. Because the rest of the routine was pretty good.”

You are enough. Don’t let people define who you are. After winning individual gold in the women’s gymnastics all-around Simone had perhaps the best media retort of the 2016 Olympics: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps,” she said. “I’m the first Simone Biles.”

Be humble. Did winning five Olympic medals change how Simone thinks of herself? Nope. She humbly says, “I’m just normal. For other kids I’m a role model. It’s very inspiring. It makes me so happy. To me I’m not the best. There were other greats that came before me,” she says.

You are not your accomplishments. After winning her second Olympic gold, Simone told The New York Times, “I’m just the same Simone. I just have two Olympic gold medals now. I feel the same.”

You get to make the choice of what is next. The pressing question on many a reporters’ lips: What about 2020 for Simone? Simone refuses to take the bait, reminding everyone that she will make that decision in time, but first she is going to have some fun, try some new things and spend time with family and friends.

Be happy for the accomplishments of others’.   Being fiercely competitive and a loyal friend who is happy for others’ success are not mutually exclusive traits. Simone is a perfect role model of this concept—thrilled for her teammates as well as other gymnasts’ performances. Simone was “more proud” of Aly and “more happy for her” than for herself when Aly won the silver in the All Around.

You don’t have to engage with those who try to bring you down. When commentator Al Trautwig tweeted that Simone’s parents are not her parents (apparently because he doesn’t understand the concept of adoption…or much about gymnastics but I digress…).  Her response was a perfect eight words: “My parents are my parents and that’s it.”   When called the “next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt,” her response was a simple “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”   And when a Brazilian reporter asked Simone for a kiss at the end of an interview, she “looked suitably horrified and walked off.”

Having strong relationships and being grateful for those people is the key to happiness. Simone is a happy person. She is also a grateful one. From crediting Marta Karolyi and Aimee Boorman to her teammates, parents, friends and fans. Simone is constantly giving credit to those who helped her in her journey. Even before she was an Olympian.

Simone, you may think that you are a role model to all the young girls who look up to you; but you are also a role model to all of us! Thank you!



In gymnastics, the score of perfection once was a 10.

When thinking about how to react to a problem or make a decision, that number 10 is incredibly useful.

Television commentator and business journalist Suzy Welch, whose writings are carried in Oprah magazine and The Wall Street Journal, describes the method of 10/10/10 in a book with the same title.

Here’s the concept in a nutshell:
• Will this matter 10 minutes from now?
• How about 10 months?
• And then 10 years?

By using this 10/10/10 model in evaluating our reactions, we allow ourselves to move beyond what our immediate impulse might be (i.e. short term comfort) for what our ultimate goal is (i.e. long term success).

For instance, ten minutes from now, I might be pretty irritated that I am driving to yoga class when I would much prefer to be in my pajamas watching Netflix. However, ten months from now, I will likely be pleased that I am in a consistent exercise program. And ten years from now, I will be grateful that I took care of my physical and emotional health.

When working with kids, the 10/10/10 helps us keep the big picture in mind that we are not just working with a child but we are helping raise a future adult.

While 10/10/10 is not a perfect decision making model, it does help us sort through what matters beyond our short-term impulses. And, it provides the opportunity to clarify our long-term goals.

Is My Child Too Sick to Attend Practice

Sick pooch in bed

A child who has a cold or flu can be challenging.  Parents may ask themselves, “how sick is too sick to attend practice?” Usually making this decision is a no-brainer, but parents may experience times when they question if they should or should not send their child to sports practice during an illness.  In some sports, it is crucial that your child attend practice as often as possible to support the team, maintain their endurance and to remain knowledgeable about changes to plays and routines.  

Here is some information that may help you make the right decision:

First and foremost…if your child was too sick to go to school then they are too sick to go to practice. Please keep them home.



Your child is good to go if their temperature is below 100.4°F, is doing well with drinking fluids and doesn’t seem to have change in personality.


Your child should stay home if their temps rise above 100.4°F. A feverish child is not only considered contagious, but  is also probably not feeling well enough to learn or participate. Keep child home until he/she has been fever-free for 24 hours and is feeling like their usual self.




A child with a minor headache doesn’t usually need to be kept out of practice.


If the headache is more severe or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as raised temperature or drowsiness, then keep child out of practice and consult your pediatrician or general practitioner.




A child with a minor cough or cold may attend practice.


If the cold is accompanied by a raised temperature, shivers or drowsiness, the child should stay home.  Visit the GP and return to practice 24 hours after they start feeling better. If your child has a more severe and long-lasting cough, consult your GP. They can give guidance on whether your child should attend practice




If your child has only dry heaved once within the last 24 hours and he/she is not at risk of dehydration, they may attend practice.  


If your child has thrown up more than two times within the last 24 hours, it is best to skip practice. Also keep an eye on dehydration. He/she may be fighting an infection and should stay away until antibiotics are taken and wait for at least 24 hours.




When your child’s eye is a little pink, he/she may only have an irritation to a small object in the eye or has common allergies in which he/she can attend practice.


If you see a bright red area in the whites of your child’s eyes with yellow or green discharge, keep them home.  Your child may be fighting conjunctivitis and should not return  until your child has been on antibiotics for 24 hours.




If your child’s stool is slightly loose and doesn’t use the restroom frequently then your child is good to go. Your child may have consumed too much fruit juice and the stomach is releasing some of that content.


If your child is going more than three times within a few hours, he/she may be fighting an infection. Just like vomiting, keep an eye on dehydration. Also if there is blood or mucus in the stool, please stay home and consult your GP.




Many children experience a sore throat and runny nose. As long as they do not have a fever, swollen or red areas in the back of the throat, send them off.


If the sore throat is accompanied by fever, redness, swollen glands, headache or stomachache, keep your child home. It may be a good idea to go get strep tested by your doctor. It is recommended to take antibiotics and wait 24 hours to join practice or class.




If this is the only symptom your child is feeling, they may attend practice.


Stomach aches that are accompanied by fever, vomiting and diarrhea should make a trip to the doctor. A sharp pain coming from the stomach may be severe constipation, appendicitis, or bowel obstruction.  Consult your GP.




A conservative way to approach rashes is to consider all of them contagious until proven otherwise. Once you have proven them to be NOT contagious then they may attend practice.


If the rash covers a large portion of the body, the rash is on the face and the eyes become swollen, the child is extremely uncomfortable or unable to sleep, or signs of infection occur, such as pus or soft yellow scabs.



Use common sense when deciding whether or not your child is too ill to attend practice.
Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is my child well enough to do the activities in practice? If not, keep them home.
  2. Is my child contagious? If so, keep them home.
  3. Would I take a day off work if I had this illness? If so, keep them home.


Disclaimer: This is not intended to take the place of your physicians advice. Please do not use this as your only guide in making your decision regarding your child but as a helpful guide from GRG.


***Some of the Information gathered above is from “Is my child too sick for school” by Suzanne Schlosberg which is pediatrician approved by Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D.




“I’m not good at this…”

“I’m not good at this…yet.”

It’s amazing how that small three-letter word—yet—changes the entire meaning and direction of the sentence.

When we say we are not good at something, ending the comment there, we commit to a limiting belief and a fixed mindset telling ourselves that the trait is beyond our control and unlikely to change.

But when we add “yet” we open up the possibility of change. We move to a growth mindset, one where we see that with effort, planning, persistence and better strategies we can place ourselves on the path to success.

Lots of new kids are coming into gymnastics inspired by the Final Five and still others are returning to our clubs from summer breaks a bit rusty in their skills.  Gymnastics is a difficult sport and it is easy to get discouraged quickly.  So when our gymnasts tell us they aren’t good at something or cannot do a certain skill, remind them of the power of yet!

“Wait? What happened to the perfect 10?”

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This question will be on the lips of many a casual gymnastics fan, confused by the scoring system at the Olympics this week.

“What the heck does a 15.877 even mean?”

Well, aside from meaning that’s a really great score, the 15.877 (and all the other odd to three decimal places scores we have and will continue to see) are part of the evolution of the sport of gymnastics.

Once upon a time, there was the perfect 10. Gymnasts constructed routines to meet certain requirements and would have to put in a certain amount of difficulty to gain some “bonus” tenths that made their routine have a 10.0 start value. From there the judges would take away tenths for errors in execution.

But there was no incentive to go beyond making a routine have a value beyond 10.0 because there was no reward for doing so.

This “closed” system of scoring meant that innovation was not rewarded. Pushing yourself to try new and harder skills and combinations was only relevant when the governing body of the sport changed rules or requirements every four years.

The new system is complicated. (For a complete explanation of the new system, clickhere). In sum, there are three panels of judges.   One panel of six judges arrives at the Difficulty score (or “D” score).   The second panel of two judges arrives at the Execution score (or the “E” score), and there is a third panel called the reference panel who correct the E score should there be a mistake. The “D” and the “E” scores are added together and averaged and then any neutral deductions (going out of bounds or overtime on floor or balance beam) are subtracted from that total to arrive at the final score.

The new system demands innovation. In fact, it is probably no accident that in the women’s program 11 new skills were introduced and asked for inclusion into the Code of Points (the international rule book for the sport of gymnastics) this Olympics.

The new system still demands a superb level of execution.  In fact, falls which were a .8 deduction in the past now command a full point off!

So while the new system challenges us to understand the math and deal with decimals to the third place, it also challenges the athletes to challenge themselves.

And isn’t that what sports is supposed to do?

The Importance of the “Soft” Stuff



The 2016 JO Nationals lit up Facebook with Jaymes Marshall’s Vault. Then a recent article came out that interviewed her in Inside Gymnastics.

In the interview, this very talented and highly accomplished 12 year old gymnast was asked, “What’s some of your favorite gymnastics memories?”

Now keep in mind, this is a child who has won JOs, qualified to the Secret U.S. Championship and is being compared to Simone Biles.

Her response, “When I went to dinner and mini golf with my entire team.”

Love this response for a whole host of reasons, but mostly because it points to one of the most valuable parts of what it means to be part of team: the happy childhood memories that come along with.

The slumber parties. The beach days. The pizza parties. The amusement park trips. The sleepovers. The out of town trips. The swim parties. And yes, the miniature golf games.

Gym parents, if you want to be involved, organize these things. Coaches, please help facilitate too. These things. These are the things that make kids happy, help them feel connected and are fun.

Thank you anne josephson for the great reminder of the importance of the “soft” stuff.

The Pre-Workout: 10 Tips to Making Practice Great Before You Even Get to the Gym

Gymnasts: want to have a great workout?

Here are some things you can do before you even get to the gym:

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep.  Getting sufficient sleep is difficult with school and gymnastics demands.  But it is essential to performing at a high level.  Lack of sleep impairs your reactions and can make it more difficult to tolerate frustration.According to the National Sleep Foundation, adolescents (ages ten to seventeen) need between 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep per night. Yet, the average adolescent gets only 7-7.25 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Have a Snack and Hydrate.  While a large meal before practice is likely to make your feel too full and cause digestive issues, working out on an empty stomach is also not a good idea.  Aim to eat 1 to 3 hours before workout.  Here are some ideas of good snacks.   We often think of water intake during workout, but did you know that it is important to arrive at the gym well hydrated?  Drink approximately 16 to 24 ounces of fluid two hours before practice
  3. Check Your Mood.  Several studies have found that listening to music can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve your mood. Laugh.  Or take a few minutes to meditate.
  4. Check How Your Body Feels.   Check in with yourself.  Notice any areas of your body that might need some extra stretching or rolling out with a foam roller.
  5. Pack Your Gym Bag. Make sure you have what you need.  That will help you feel prepared for practice.
  6. Make a List.  Make a list of any non-gym related things you need to do after practice.  Don’t hold in your head any of the “to dos” you have to do after practice, instead write them down.  By writing them down you free your mind to focus on practice.
  7. Get Dressed for Practice and Do Your Hair. Showing up to practice in ripped sweat pants doesn’t create the right intention for the day.
  8. Set An Intention.  Speaking of intentions, set one for the day.  This practice, which I stole from my yoga class, helps to get you into the mindset for a good workout.
  9. Get There Early.  It at all possible, arrive at practice 10-15 minutes early.  Rushing in at the start time of practice exactly, rushes feeling prepared.  Give yourself enough time to put your things away, greet your friends and use the restroom before your coach calls line up.
  10. Smile and Greet Everyone Cheerfully.  Act like you are happy to be at practice and the feeling will follow.  Bring in energy to spare for your coaches and teammates.

27 Things Parents of Gymnasts Should Avoid


Here are 27 things parents of gymnasts should avoid doing so they don’t interfere with the positive benefits:

  1. Don’t compare your gymnast’s progress with that of other gymnasts.
  2. Don’t become overly ego-involved with your gymnast’s success or lack of it.
  3. Don’t take judge’s scores too seriously, especially at the lower levels.
  4. Don’t forget the need for fun in gymnastics.
  5. Don’t stand for unacceptable behavior from your gymnast during practice or competitions.
  6. Don’t participate in gossip about anyone in the gymnastics community.
  7. Don’t interfere with coaches and their coaching duties during practice or competitions.
  8. Don’t pressure your gymnast regarding skills or competition.
  9. Don’t set unrealistic goals for your gymnast.
  10. Don’t predicate your love or attention on your gymnast’s competitive success.
  11. Don’t base your own ego or self-esteem on the success of your gymnast’s progress or competitive success.
  12. Don’t lose your long-term perspective about the importance of your gymnast’s participation in the sport.
  13. Don’t let yourself care too deeply about your gymnast’s competition results.
  14. Don’t undercut your gymnast’s confidence in their coaches or coaching.
  15. Don’t show any negative emotions while watching your gymnast practice or compete.
  16. Don’t try to make your gymnast talk with you immediately after a gymnastics meet, especially if they performed poorly.
  17. Don’t do or say anything to make your child feel guilty for the time and money you are spending on their gymnastics or any sacrifices you feel are making for them to participate in the sport.
  18. Don’t badmouth your gymnast’s coaches, your gym or other gymnasts in front of your gymnast.
  19. Don’t attempt to coach your gymnast yourself.
  20. Don’t alienate your gymnast’s coaches.
  21. Don’t predicate your support for your gymnast’s participation in the sport on any expectation of a monetary return like receiving a college scholarship.
  22. Don’t try to recreate your own career or live out your own sports dreams through your gymnast.
  23. Don’t do anything to make enemies with other gymnast’s parents.
  24. Don’t expect anything more from your gymnast except their best effort.
  25. Don’t ever do or say anything that will cause your gymnast to think less of you.
  26. Don’t use sarcasm, threaten or use fear to try to motivate your gymnast.
  27. Don’t expect anything more from gymnastics than physical fitness, life skills and fun for your gymnast.

Remember this:  the evident look of pride, contentment and joy that gymnasts have every time they win even the slightest little thing.  It will always be amazing to see how happy they can be, even over 11th place!  The competitiveness in parents is one thing we need to always stifle.  Because in the end your gymnast will be a happier, more well rounded person if they are more of a team player and less of a competitor.