A few weeks ago a good friend of mine uploaded her daughter gymnastics floor routine on Facebook and asked for judges to explain her deductions. At first the judges were very helpful and gave a skill by skill explanation of the deductions and what she can do to improve her score. My friend was excited and so she tried to upload another video of her daughter’s beam routine. She commented to the judges and said, “Thank you so much for your help, here is my daughter’s beam routine.” Immediately she was told that they would not help anymore. They told her that they thought she was a coach and they would not give deductions for a parent. When they found out that she was a mother they stopped all communications and asked her to leave the group.

My friend felt terrible. She couldn’t understand what she had done and called me for my advice.

Since I understand the life of a judge, coach, and athlete I told her that judges don’t want to interfere with the coach/athlete relationship and that it is almost taboo to have parents talk to judges. She was still confused.

I asked her the apparently deep and pondering question, “Why do you want to know your child’s deductions?” She paused for a while and then said, “I just want to be educated.” It sounded like a fine answer to me, I like most moms want to be involved in my kids sports. I like to know what they need to improve on, what knew skills they are working on, what challenges they have during practice, and what defines a successful routine. I too like to be educated.

I decided to call up my good friend and owner of Growing Champions for Life, David Benzel.

I explained the entire situation to David and after I was done with my long monologue and telling him my thoughts, he simply asked me the question again,”Why does she need to know her child’s deductions?” I replied, “She just wanted to be educated.” David, being the wise man that he is then asked, “What is she going to DO with the information?”

And there it was.

It wasn’t giving the information that scared the judges enough to run and hide, it was what she would do with that information. What was her intent? Was she just going to learn the deductions and corrections and keep them in her head, or was she going to use it for something more devious?
Of course my friend had no intention to use this info, but other parents may not have the same intentions. And that is why the judges freaked out.

With this information would they go to the coach and tell the coach what he needed to do to help their own daughter improve? With this information would they stand in the parent section barking out corrections. With this information would they beat their child over the head with things they needed to fix? Would they make their child practice at home? Would they pretend that they knew more than the coaches? The judges weren’t going to take that chance.

So how do we parents educate ourselves on our child’s sport without crossing the line? The best I can give you is that it is our child’s sport. Our job as parents is to understand the basic concepts of the sport. But when it comes to the technical stuff, that is the job of the coaches and so it is best if we leave it up to them.

I do believe our children are told time and time again by the coach what to work on. I am pretty sure that our children already know what they being deducted on. And I am also confident that the coach is well aware of all the skills they need to work on.

I know it is frustrating as a parent to sit back and have to watch your child suffer through a competition season, but that is our job as parents. We have to leave the coaching up to the coaches and the judging up to the judges. And we parents will take care of everything else.

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