Youth Coach Connect sets up a bright future for gymnastics coaching

Anna RobertsonEducation

September and October held the much-anticipated Youth Coach Connect conferences which saw 111 coaches from 26 clubs come together at the Wellington and Auckland events.

Last year’s coach development research project showed that both holistic and technical approaches were integral to developing youth coaches, so Youth Coach Connect was created as a platform to drive these two key themes. This meant that as well as acquiring technical skills, the conferences had to be about developing qualities that make a well-rounded coach.

Some adventure-based learning—Amazing Race style—set the tone for the entire event by fostering camaraderie, competition, and problem-solving, illustrating that learning can be fun and effective when approached with creativity. This was followed by a set of workshops, guided by the themes of collaboration, teamwork, and communication, emphasising the importance of building strong relationships with gymnasts, fellow coaches, and the gymnastics community. These workshops were

  • Spotting 101: Coaches learned the theory behind spotting followed by a hands-on opportunity to spot gymnasts.
  • Game Play: Understanding the role of games in the learning process, coaches discovered how to make training engaging and enjoyable for young gymnasts.
  • Breaking it Down: The use of creative drills and side stations where coaches learned and developed creative ways to break down gymnastic skills from beginning to end and took away an easy formula to use in their coaching.
  • Understanding and Communicating the ‘why’: Coaches were equipped with techniques to explain why fundamental movements are key within gymnastics, helping gymnasts to connect with the sport on a deeper level.
  • Cool, Calm and Collected Coaching: Common challenges faced by youth coaches were addressed, encouraging participants to reflect on their coaching philosophy and work through scenarios that often arise in the field.

We want to thank our presenters for creating and delivering the youth-specific content. Thank you also to our design group, extra helpers, clubs, venues, and sponsors. We couldn’t have done it without you all.

We very much look forward to seeing the positive impact that these youth coaches will make in our community, to help enable positive gymnastics experiences for everyone.