Rhythmic Gymnastics 'Coaching Wisdom' passed on from Mother to Daughter

My Mother, Nellie Cameron, was a rather well known Artistic Gymnastics Coach in South Africa. She was the Artistic Women’s National Coach for many, many years in what some may call the Golden Era of South African Gymnastics. Our standard was world class, there were sponsors and we were internationally very competitive. Sadly this coincided with the Moratorium which did not allow us to officially participate. Gymnastics was lucky though - we had many allies and managed to compete around the globe, be it behind closed doors at times.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that Nellie knew a thing or two about coaching and what it took to get Gymnasts to achieve. I thought I would share three of the invaluable lessons that she passed onto me.

  1. Knowledge is 'free' it depends what you do with it - so don’t be afraid to share, there is an incredible knock-on effect
  2. If you’re passionate about what you do - you'll be following your own path and not paving someone else's
  3. Focus your training around exponential accumulation


1. Knowledge is 'Free'

Here's the thing, we can all read the same literature, attend the same Courses and be exposed to the same International Experts. In the end the difference is in the actual application of the knowledge you've gained, the processes you decide to follow and your motivation to follow through.

Our attitude should be one of sharing knowledge and resources. The end goal is to elevate the standard for all involved and produce a much better standard of Rhythmic Gymnastics. Furthermore we need to create a warm and supportive environment for new Rhythmic Gymnastics Coaches to encourage the growth of the Sport.


2. Be Passionate 

Passion is a word frivolously bandied about. On a daily basis you hear how you should be following your passion. Well, my Mother did and achieved great success and more importantly, life satisfaction. It took me a really long time to come to this conclusion, but being stuck in a situation where you are forced to try and engage and internalise someone else's passion is just plain awful. You also don't care about the outcome as nothing of your soul is invested in their passion.

So whether you're a Coach, Gymnast, Parent, Judge or Volunteer - make sure that you want to be there and enjoy yourself. You're not doing anyone any favours if you're unhappy with what you're doing.



3. Focus

Gary Player has a fabulous saying that my Mother taught me - "the harder you work, the luckier you get". So in Rhythmic Gymnastics terms, what does this mean? 

Here's a simple example from a Rhythmic Gymnasts perspective (it can really be applied to anything)

  • Your Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach asks you and your fellow Gymnasts to do 10 of a specific element 5 days a week
  • Instead of doing 10, you decide to do 15 of the element every day
  • In a week, you've done 25 more than the other Rhythmic Gymnasts
  • In a month you've done a 100 more and in a term 300 more....

No one is going to catch up with you at this rate. What does this actually mean for your Rhythmic Gymnastics Training? Well, improved accuracy, confidence with the element and the execution thereof. You’re slowly getting to a point where you don't have to think about executing the movement as much as you used to and you’re way ahead of your competitors. Competitions become easier and you've done more in your preparation phase than your Competitors. So in my Mom's words - you simply have to be better.


Michelle Kleu
Michelle Kleu