What is Your Biggest Regret?


In the middle of New York City, a black board was hung with the simple directive:


People approached somewhat apprehensive but then began to pick up the chalk and jot down their thoughts.  Initially, the thoughts were as varied as those who were writing them.  Then, as the chalkboard became crowded with the things for which people were sorry, a pattern emerged.

The pattern: NOT.

The things listed were almost all exclusively something someone had NOT done, said, tried or pursued.

While some of the regrets could no longer be righted, some could.

And, even for those of us who might pencil in something that cannot be revisited, each and every day brings new opportunities.

Think about what you might regret NOT doing and get busy doing it!



BlogImage_happy gymnasts

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses and we all walk our own unique path. Comparing ourselves to others just robs us of our happiness.
  2. Eat more fruits and veggies. As an athlete, your body needs nutrient rich foods but the bonus is that 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day may increase your happiness as well.
  3. Play great music during workout. It’s backed by science that listening to upbeat music makes us feel happier.
  4. Tell your inner critical voice to shut up. Do you have that voice in your head that tells you that you are not good enough? Most of us do, and it robs us of our happiness. One way to stifle that nasty voice is to ask yourself if you would say to your best friend what you say to yourself. If the answer is no, then tell your inner voice to take a hike.
  5. Say thank you more often. Practice gratitude enhances your personal happiness. And it can spread happiness to others as well when you say thank you to your coach for a great workout or to your parents for driving you to and from practice.
  6. List three good things that happened at each and every workout. They don’t have to be huge things, like learning a new skill or overcoming a fear. Just take the time to jot down three good things that happened at gym that day.  Yes, even on bad days find three good things; you can do it!
  7. Set ambitious but realistic goals. If you are a level 8 gymnast, it might be too lofty to expect you are going to be an elite in a year, but shooting for being a level 10 might just be a good idea for your happiness. People with ambitious goals are happier than those who set conservative to no goals. So while you don’t want to set goals that are almost 100% likely to fail, don’t sell yourself short either.
  8. Keep your goals in mind. Exercising self-control with respect to your goals increase your happiness. Reminding yourself why you are working hard toward your goal helps you feel better about your efforts even when they are challenging.
  9. Let go of limiting beliefs. Let go of beliefs about what you can or cannot do or about what is possible or impossible. This year you are not going to allow these limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Every time you think you can’t, remind yourself that maybe you can!
  10. Be present in practice. Focusing on what your are doing at the moment make you happier. So leave your cell phone, your homework worries and everything else outside the gym and concentrate on your workout.
  11. Assess your teammates. This is similar to the advice I also shared with parents. Stress is contagious. So decline getting involved in gym drama and stay away from those teammates who do not want to work hard and who distract you from your workout. Remember the proverb: Not my circus, not my monkey. But just as stress is contagious, so is happiness. So hang out with those athletes who want to be supportive, work hard and help spread that positive vibe through the gym.  And make sure your attitude and actions put you in the category of positive teammate.
  12. Embrace your failures and lean into your struggles. Welcoming failure can actually make you more successful and happier in the long run. When you lean into your failure and resolve to get better you create grit and resilience, which leads to ultimate mastery. The result: happiness.

Keep working hard and remember… have fun!

10 Choices You Make As a Gymnast That Will Serve You Well For the Rest of Your Life


You might think that some of the choices you make as a gymnast are pretty big ones. Choosing a gym club, which summer gym camp or even their optional floor music can feel like a monumental deal with everlasting consequences. And, these choices are significant.

But there are other decisions that gymnasts learn to make that will serve you well after you no longer go to any gym or camp or have any need for floor music.

These are the choices that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Here are some favorites:

DECISION TO FAIL. Doing gymnastics is a decision to fail because no gymnast gets through a career (or even a workout!) without failing. Making the decision to fail will serve you when it is time to take risks academically or professionally because you will understand that failure is nothing more than feedback whereas many of your non-gymnastics peers will think of failure as the end of the world.

DECISION TO TRY AGAIN. Every time a gymnast falls, the decision is made to get up and try again. Resilience is one of the hallmarks of successful and happy people.

DECISION TO DO SOMETHING HARD. Gymnastics is hard.   So are many other worthy things in life. People who are scared of doing hard things limit themselves. You are not afraid to do hard things.

DECISION TO KEEP GOING EVEN WITH IT HURTS. Pain is inevitable and gymnasts know how to work through it. Gymnasts learn to recognize pain that is the discomfort of growth from pain that is a signal of damage.

DECISION TO LISTEN TO FEEDBACK OF AN EXPERT. Coaches are experts. Seeking experts opinions and incorporating their feedback is a often overlooked life skill.

DECISION TO TUNE OUT THE FEEDBACK OF A NON-EXPERT. And there are plenty of non-experts who will give their opinion. Knowing who to listen to and to ignore is an important decision.

DECISION TO WHOLLY COMMIT TO SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO YOU. To learn to make choices that others might view as sacrifices because you want to achieve mastery of something is a decision that great leaders make every day. You learned this as a young gymnast.

DECISION TO CONTINUALLY IMPROVE. There are no miracle solutions or overnight remedies in gymnastics. Just continual improvement day in and day out from putting in the work.

DECISION TO OVERCOME YOUR DOUBTS AND FEARS. There were times you didn’t think you could do it. There were times you were scared to try. But you did anyway. Those decisions taught you to choose the best version of yourself instead of the frightened version.

DECISION TO ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE JUDGED. To stand up and have a number assigned to your effort is not an easy thing to do. Yet, when you make the decisions to become comfortable with others judging your work you free yourself from the fear of their criticism and are able to see it as feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Mary Lou Retton said, “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”  The choices you make in gymnastics will pave the road to achievement!

Why Should a Coach Make Sports Fun?

Aren’t coaches supposed to teach sports skills, develop competent athletes and develop a winning mentality?

Aren’t sports about learning life lessons like coping with failure, good sportsmanship, discipline and goal setting?

Well yes, of course, but sports are also about fun.

However it’s important to remember that “fun” is not just light-hearted amusement, but can mean finding an activity meaningful, pleasing or interesting.   So when we talk about having “fun” at sports it isn’t just the sugar and spice model of fun, but also the deep purpose and passion model that we need to keep in mind.

How can we actually make sports more fun? Here are a dozen suggestions:

  1. Asking the kids if they are having fun. Checking in with your athletes by simply asking them, “Are you having fun?” or “What was fun about practice today/this week?” serves two purposes.   The first is obvious: it gives you feedback about what they found fun (if anything). The second is that it reminds them (and you) that fun is an essential part of their training!
  2. Finding out why the kids are participating and what they want out of the experience. Too often, sports leagues are designed around the wants, needs or expectations of the adults. In a 2014 George Washington University study, 9 of 10 kids said “fun” is the main reason they participate. When asked to define fun, they offered up 81 reasons— and ranked “winning” at No. 48, with young girls (our primary customer in gymnastics, ranking winning dead last).
  3. Acting happy to see the kids and encouraging teammates to bond with each other.Belonging is a critical component to our ability to enjoy ourselves.   And when we see ourselves as a part of something larger, we are more connected to your experience.
  4. Developing kids’ self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, the belief that we are able to perform well or learn the necessary skills to eventually perform well, is key in enjoying what we do. If we feel hopeless at a game, sport or task, we are not likely to consider it to be fun. Coaches can help athletes develop their self-efficacy by ensuring quick success at the beginning of learning and making sure that even as the athlete advances that there is always some success in practice.
  5. Coaching in a positive manner. A coach that is supportive and encouraging in giving feedback is terrific in helps athletes have more fun and quit at a much lower rate. Encouraging and acknowledging kids effort over their out come is key as is treating all the athletes with respect.
  6. Making the mundane interesting by using games. Conditioning can be boring and tedious, but when it is gamified it can be a lot of fun. Relay races and contests can create excitement and energy in the gym.
  7. Using external rewards on occasion. Again, best used for things that are tedious like conditioning or numbers driven like stuck routines.   Rewards can be silly, like stickers or a juice box, or the selection of a privilege, like earning an extra trampoline rotation.
  8. Scaling the difficulty of practice to reach the “Goldilock’s moment.” For something to be enjoyable it cannot be too easy or too hard, but like Goldilock’s bed, it needs to be just right. This means paying attention to each athlete and adjusting the challenge of the workout accordingly.
  9. Varying workouts. Variety is the spice of life and the antidote to boredom (which is not fun!). Mix your workouts up. Keep it interesting. Nobody wants to do the same exact thing day in and day out.
  10. Giving kids some choices in what they do. Enjoyment and engagement increases when we have some control over our work. So let your athletes choose the order of their assignments, give them the option between two different conditioning exercises or let them choose the music playing in the gym.
  11. Playing music. Speaking of music: play it. Music makes people happy. It’s backed by science.
  12. When our athletes are learning and seeing their progress they are much more likely to be enjoying themselves. Sometimes they need help in seeing how much they are learning.

BONUS: Just be silly sometimes.  The young athletes you are coaching are kids.  Play is the work of kids so don’t forget to include some playtime in your training.

What are your suggestions to make sports fun for your athletes?

18 Things Anyone Who Loves A Gymnastics Coach Should Know


  1. We work strange hours. We go to work when most people are thinking about going home. Sorry, the kids apparently have to go to school, which means we are beholden to their schedule.
  2. We get tired easily. We aren’t being lazy when we want to lay around an watch TV. Our jobs are physically demanding, so we are often just exhausted.
  3. Yes we go to work in sweat pants. No that does not mean we don’t have a “real job.”
  4. We have little patience for anyone who rolls his or her eyes at us. We work with teenagers, okay?
  5. Don’t watch gymnastics on TV with us if you aren’t prepared for our commentary (and our criticism of the commentators’ commentary). No the judges don’t give extra points for cuteness.
  6. We don’t know why the judges have to wear blue either. No one does. It’s a mystery.
  7. We have an irrational attachment to our stopwatches. It just is.
  8. We aren’t around much on weekends between August and May. Well, we hope May because that means we have kids at Nationals.
  9. We can take you to lovely vacation spots like Indianapolis, IN, Hartford, CT or San Jose, CA. Sure, we are there for USA Gymnastics Congress, but you can explore these wonderful cities.
  10. We aren’t going to be rich. Not with money anyway.
  11. We don’t mean to correct a kid’s cartwheel on the beach. But really, if she just started in a lunge, it would be so much better.
  12. Sorry about all the white powder on our clothes. But it’s not what you think.
  13. We are good at multitasking. Often we have 8 to 10 kids in our groups, all who have different needs and assignments. So yes, we can check emails and talk to you at the same time.
  14. It hurts our feelings when our kids stop the sport or switch gyms. We understand that you may not fully get that, but it does bother us so please be patient.
  15. We don’t mean to bark orders at you.  We are just used to being in charge.
  16. We also realize “eyes on me” is not an appropriate way to get your attention.Sorry about that.
  17. Starbucks gift cards are an awesome stocking stuffer. Yes, our blood is half caffeine.
  18. It’s okay if you don’t understand the sport. Just pretend to be excited when our athletes catch a Geinger or feel our pain when a full twisting Yurchenko is devalued by the NCAA.

12 Powerful Things to Say to Your Gymnasts


“Straighten your legs.”
“Run faster.”
“Hit the board harder.”
“Point your toes.”
“Tap earlier.”
“Drive your heels.”

These are just a handful of things coaches say on a daily basis at the gym.

But what are the things that we can say to the kids we teach that have nothing to do with correcting their gymnastics?

Here are a dozen ideas:

  1. I’m glad to see you. Everyone likes to feel like they matter. Greeting your athletes warmly sets the right tone for practice.
  2. How are you today? More than just a throw away formality, asking how your athlete is feeling is important in gauging what intensity of a workout you can do that day.
  3. Thank you. Showing gratitude is both good modeling and makes athletes feel respected.
  4. I’m sorry. If you mess up it builds your credibility (not reduces it) when you show your accountability.
  5. I believe in you. Believing in your athletes and their ability to learn and improve is essential in teaching or coaching.
  6. I am here for you. Sometimes that is what our athletes need to know, that we are here from them when they don’t feel they can get through things alone.
  7. It’s okay, try again. Normalizing failure and asking the athlete to preserve in the face of it not only creates great gymnast, but resilient kids.
  8. All I am asking for is your best effort. While athletes may not be able to control the outcome, they can always control the effort they put forth.
  9. I need you to… When you really need an instruction to be followed, tell your athlete that in clear and simple terms.
  10. It’s just one workout (or meet)… Helping an athlete reframe a rough day at the gym or at a competition by reminding them that it is just a snapshot not the whole picture places a bad day in perspective.
  11. I care about you as a person more than as a gymnast. We all want to be cared about for who we are, not what we do.
  12. Nothing.  Sometimes just listening is better than saying anything.

Is there anything else would you add to this list?

We Teach Kids to Fail


As the school year kicks off and many new and returning students come into our gymnastics academies, embrace and own one of the things we do best: we teach kids how to fail.

Sure, at gymnastics classes, from our littlest athletes who are just learning to walk to our teens who are about to take off for college, we do many good and wonderful things. And one of the best things we do is teach kids how to fail and fail and fail.

It makes sense that we fear failure. “A lack of success,” “the omission of expected or required action,” and “falling short of one’s goals” are just a few definitions of failure. None of those things sound too fun. Not succeeding feels awful. Nobody wants to let down, especially regarding things expected and required.   And, of course, no one wants to put their ambitions or dreams on the line to have them dashed by falling short.

But, if we stop thinking of failure as an event and start to think of it as a thought, we can do a lot to minimize the sting of failure and even begin to welcome it into our lives as a normal part of learning and improving.

When failure is an event, we don’t have control of it—it’s not our party. But when shift to failure as a thought; we control how we think about failure—because we control our own thoughts. Therefore, depending on how we categorize and process it, we can either use failure to our detriment or to our benefit.

And gymnastics gives us many great opportunities to help children learn how to process failure to their benefit. That is, if we are deliberate in our intention to do so.

Failing by itself does not necessarily magically teach these lessons. But coaches and parents can reinforce the positive side of failure if we are methodical in how we react to and talk about failing.

First, we can teach children not to fear failure. When failure is a normal part of their gymnastics class, they gain comfort with the idea that the world will not end because of a failure. When they fall off the beam at a meet and their coaches still care about them, their parents still love them and their teammates still support them, they understand that the people in their lives are a source of comfort not shame. This is why it is so vital that we the adults do not heap extra disappointment on to a child who is already trying to cope with coming up short.

Next we can help them understand that failure is a normal, healthy part of the learning process. We can point to all the times the best gymnasts in the world have fallen while learning new skills or have had bad competitions and prove to them that failing is not synonymous with being a failure. Then, when we help a child take a step back in a progression to fix a mistake we teach them that sometimes we need to pause and reevaluate when things are not going how we want them to.   We shift failure from being final to failure being feedback. As Henry Ford noted, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again. Only this time more wisely.”  In fact, we learn some of our best lessons from failure. As Tom Kelley of IDEO says, “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”

We can teach children to change the language of failure. It is important that we move children away from phrases such as “I can’t,” “I give up,” or “I’ll never learn” to embrace ideas like “I can’t YET,” “I am stuck,” and “I need help.” Pushing children from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is a key ingredient to a successful learner.   Instead of seeing failure as the unsuccessful endpoint of a journey to their goals, failure becomes a tool that is used to reach goals.

We can help children understand that being comfortable with failure allows us to take more risks. Once we see that we can traverse the rocky waters of failing we are much more likely to take risks because we have the self-confidence that we can pick ourselves back up if we fall.

We can encourage children to use failure as a source of motivation instead of a source of discouragement. Learning to channel our discontent toward a healthy motivation of personal improvement is a wonderful thing.

 We can remind children that the sweet taste of success is seasoned by failure.Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. As the great soccer player Pele said, “The more difficult the victory, the greater happiness in winning.”

We can use failure to remind children to be humble, to celebrate others’ success even when we did not experience our own and to serve as a checkpoint against our own efforts.   Yes, even the icky side of failure has great benefit. We learn valuable life lessons of humility and sportsmanship. We learn to come to terms of when we did not give sufficient effort. We learn that sometimes even when we try our best we don’t get what we want. As Bill Gates said, “It is fine to celebrate success but it is even more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

We can celebrate that it is through failure we receive the following gifts: perseverance, resiliency and grit. Like a callous that develops on a gymnast’s hand after swinging on the bars, failure has the potential to toughen up kids. We want children who will persist, who can raise up after falling and who have the strength of character. Failure, handled correctly, delivers those gifts.

Talk about failure as a concept instead of a definition. Talk about your own failures, how you navigated them and what you learned. Don’t overreact when your athlete fails. Treat it as a normal part of the learning process, comfort them and when they are ready, talk about how they can make a new strategy.

So, while the tagline “we teach kids how to fail” is not likely to take the marketing world by storm, it is just another great reason for kids to enroll in gymnastics.

**Thanks JAG Gym for the post.

Why GRG Preschoolers are So Smart!


Flip on the Focus. Any time a child participates in activities that require moving large muscles and the compression of joints, this is referred to as heavy work. Heavy work is a term used in the therapy world to describe the types of activities that help focus the brain. Vaulting, hanging, flipping, climbing and leaping are examples of phenomenal heavy work opportunities for children focusing with ease leads to learning with ease.

Hang Ten for Handwriting. Observing children swinging on uneven bars seems far away as one can get from observing a child trying to write a paragraph, but actually, the two require remarkably similar skills for children to have good handwriting skills, they must have strong muscles that work together for a common cause. Mighty abs, back muscles, shoulder muscles, forearms, wrists and fingers are essential for good writing skills. When children have poor upper strength and weak core muscles, they have trouble sitting upright at a desk, holding a pencil, and writing  legibly. Bar work strengthens all muscle groups responsible for writing with ease.

Roll Into Reading. Brain connections are made through the activation of an important system that lies deep within the inner ear. This system is called the vestibular system and is the Olympic gold winner when it comes to brain development. Working in tandem with the brain, the vestibular system integrates auditory, visual, and tactile input. Specific types of movement common to gymnastics help the vestibular system develop properly. These include the back and forth movement in swinging, the rotational movement as in twisting, and the up and over movement used for rolling.

Magnificent Moves for Math. Math is spatial sport! The more children move in different ways, the more connections are made in the brain that improved spatial awareness. For children to be able to understand mathematical equations and geometric principles, they need good spatial skills. All gymnastics moves improve body awareness and wire the brain for math success.

10 Ways Parents Can Help their Gymnast

Parents want to know (aside from driving and paying tuition and fees) how they can help their gymnast, and that’s terrific. So here is a list we found of 10 things that parents can do to support their athlete no matter the sport.

  1. Fill your athletes’ emotional bucket. The best part of the parents’ role, in my opinion, is the cheerleader. Lots of hugs, smiles and “way to go-s” are the privilege of being a parent. Even when they are teenagers, and they roll their eyes at your kooky thumbs up signs or constant “I love you”s deep down they both love and need it.
  2. Listen to your athlete’s stories about practice, frustrations, and fears with understanding and patience. Don’t try to solve them for her. Just listen. Sympathize and maybe ask a couple of questions, most importantly: How can I help?
  3. Nourish and hydrate your athlete. The fuel that goes into your athlete not only gives her the energy to make it through a demanding workout but also plays a major role in how she recovers from training.
  4. Make sure she gets sufficient rest. I know how difficult this one is. The demands on young athlete’s lives between training and school can make it impossible for them to get all the sleep they need. Nevertheless, do the best you can to make sure they are going to bed as soon as possible and give them space to get some extra sleep on nights off and weekends.
  5. Pay attention to her health, physical and emotional. If she complains of chronic pains, take her to the doctor. If a doctor recommends she stop or modify training, either get a second opinion from another doctor or follow the prescription. Make sure that she completes physical therapy. And if you notice dramatic shifts in her weight, anxiety or any other behavior that signifies emotional distress and get help immediately.
  6. Check in with her coaches as needed, but certainly every 8-12 weeks. A brief check in with her coaches to ask about your child’s progress is appropriate. It is an excellent time to inquire what you can do to support their work (i.e. does she need private lessons? New floor music etc.)
  7. Communicate any medical/emotional needs or family changes to the coach.While I advocate a gymnast navigating her relationship with the coach, when it comes to medical or emotional needs, this information is best delivered by the parents, preferably in writing. If the athlete has limitations, the coach needs to be made aware of that. If she is on medications, the coaches should know and be made aware of times meds might be changing to monitor any unusual behavior at the gym. If parents are separating or a grandparent is critically ill, these pieces of information are useful in the coaches supporting and understanding if the athlete is acting out. Not to mention, no coach wants to have a gymnast try a double back for the first time if she just discovered her parents are splitting up.
  8. Speak to the teachers/principal regarding your child’s gymnastics (if needed).Perhaps getting a dispensation for PE would allow your child to get some homework done, so navigate this with the school administration for your child. Or if, for instance, it would be helpful to get all her homework assignments on a Friday so she can get a head start over the weekend (and it is feasible for the teacher to do so), the parent should be the one to make this request. If the gymnast has to miss school for competitions or medical appointments, the parent can be helpful in informing the school and arranging the makeup work.
  9. Keep the other parts of the gymnast’s identity intact. When a child is heavily involved in a single activity, it can become very easy to be solely focused on that activity to the exclusion of all others. This does not create a well-balanced human being and can cause a major crisis if the athlete is forced to retire (or even if she decides it’s time to hang up her grips on her own). So make sure that other dimensions of your child are supported. Perhaps she also is an artist, singer or musician. Or maybe she is part of the Girl Scouts or a faith-based youth group. A good test is if every holiday gift and birthday gift relate to gymnastics, you need to do some re-thinking. And make sure she participates in your family’s life, including having chores like her siblings and occasionally going to their activities or games to show her support of them.  Ensure that she attends school events and has friendships with classmates.  Finally, make sure that there is time for your family to connect as a family.
  10. Make the experience fun. Get together with other parents to make the experience of being part of a team a fun one. If you have a pool, host a team swim party. Slumber parties. Meals together after meets. Making all the girls on the team good luck grams with other parents. Whatever you can think of, be the social facilitator with other parents to make happy memories outside the gym.

These are just some of the ways you can help your gymnast. Do you have any other thoughts for us. We’d love to hear.

17 Reasons Why You Should Enroll Your Daughter in Gymnastics

Since when did “Like a Girl” become a bad thing? GRG wants to do everything possible to make sure they are strong, confident, healthy women when they grow up. Gymnastics is one way to help make that happen.

Here are some of the benefits of gymnastics, and why you should enroll your daughter in gymnastics classes:


To find a gymnastics class at GRG and register, click here.

To view this information in more depth go to Gymnastics HQ by clicking here.