By Anne Josephson
Sure we wear sweatpants to work and “play” with kids all day. But make no mistake: gymnastics coaches and administrators are professionals who benefit greatly by attending professional development courses like Congress.
Here are just a few reasons:
- Learn new ideas and question old ones. Presenters will share new ideas with you. And they will challenge old ones.
- Network with other professionals. You never know when life will throw a curve ball and you have to move across the country. Or when your club is growing and you will need to hire new coaches.
- Get new information. Learning the new rules of competition, changes in labor law, new equipment or office software on the market are just some examples of the kind of information you will find at Congress.
- Keep your skills sharp. No matter how long you have worked in the industry, there is always more to practice and learn.
- Advance your career. The more education you have, the more valuable you are to your club.
- Mentor other professionals. You have valuable insight to share with the rest of our industry! Come and participate!
- Bond with your co-workers. Some of my happiest memories with co-workers are from Congresses. It’s a great time to connect without the distractions of the day to day of the gym pulling our focus.
- Meet new friends. I’ve also made some of my closest friends from attending Congress.
- It’s good for your athletes and families. Improving yourself is an investment that yields results for the children and families we serve.
- It’s fun! Gymnastics, dedicated professionals and a dynamic educational environment—how can it anything other than a good time!
So, how can you get the most from your Congress?
- Be present. Try as hard as you can to stay off your email and social media while you are at sessions. Work hard to be present and commit to engaging in the sessions.
- Attend different sections than your co-workers. If you are attending with other coaches or administrators from you club, spread out and attend different sections so you can make the most of your club’s resources.
- Attend a session outside of your normal responsibilities. If you are a coach, try a business session. An office manager? Check out a session designed for coaches. You will get a fresh perspective and may find that you have some interesting insights to offer.
- Take notes. Write down information that is useful and ideas that intrigue you from the lectures.
- Review your notes each day. While the information is still fresh in your mind (and you have a hope of reading your handwriting), review your notes and select the ideas you want to pursue and list the people you need to share information with.
- Make action items for when you get back to the gym. You will compile a lot of information and ideas, so write out lists of things you are going to do when you get home. Remember: an action item begins with a verb.
- Network. Use meals and social events to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Pick each other’s brains.
- Teach what you learned. When you get home, share notes with colleagues. Host your own “mini congress” at your home gym to teach your colleagues what you learned.
- Don’t try to implement everything at once! You may come away with many great ideas to tweak or even radically change what you are doing at your club. That’s great, but don’t try to do them all at once! Pick a few and file the rest of them away to review in a few months from now.
- Refer back to what you’ve learned. If you followed the tips in this article, you will get a great deal from Congress, so don’t forget to refer back to what you’ve learned over the year!
Congratulations on honing your skills, learning new things and helping to make our sport even better!