PCA October Partner of the Month: USA Gymnastics

For the month of October, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on one of our most active partners: USA Gymnastics (USAG). Since 2019, PCA and USA Gymnastics have stood shoulder to shoulder as national partners, united by a common goal – to ensure that gymnastics athletes across the country embark on a safe, positive, and holistic journey through their sport. This journey is guided by the pillars of mastery, healthy competition, fun, and the invaluable life lessons that gymnastics offers.

Erica Koven, USAG Chief Membership Officer and Shelba Waldron, USAG Director of Member Club Education and Outreach explain, “PCA and USA Gymnastics collaborate closely to identify and create essential resources for the gymnastics community. Collectively, we have produced valuable materials to support coaches at every level, assist parents, and aid club owners. PCA offers our community invaluable training resources, articles, and social media posts.”

One remarkable feature of this partnership is the exchange of wisdom. Every month, PCA shares high-performing content with USAG, providing them with an abundant source of PCA tools. These tools are organically incorporated into USAG’s communication channels, such as email newsletters, websites, and social media platforms. They serve as guiding lights for coaches, athletes, parents, staff, and officials, illuminating the path towards creating a nurturing and positive sports environment.

Together, PCA and USAG have embarked on a joint effort to expand and share knowledge in this space. They have ventured into the realm of webinars, hosting engaging discussions on critical topics. One such webinar, “What Counts as Abusive Coaching,” delves deep into the impacts of punitive coaching practices, including conditioning, and explored the elusive line that separates tough coaching from abuse. This thought-provoking discussion featured esteemed guests – high-level competitive coaches and former Olympian gymnasts, whose insights added depth to the conversation.

Koven and Waldron stated, “with over 1000 views both during the live webinar and online, our community gained a greater understanding of how exercise is used in modern-day coaching practices.”

A recap of this event is available here.

Cultivating a Positive Culture

For the past four years, USA Gymnastics and PCA have been working together closely to transform the culture of the USAG community, harnessing PCA’s materials and resources to cultivate a culture that radiates positivity and safety. In the pursuit of excellence, USAG offers PCA online courses to coaches, athletes, parents, staff, and officials. These courses equip individuals with the tools they need to foster positive coaching, communication, and leadership.

“Positive Coaching Alliance brings unique expertise to the USAG community by sharing its resources and conducting workshops in leadership, empathy, diversity, and inclusion,” said Erica and Shelba. “This knowledge helps coaches motivate and guide athletes to reach their full potential.”

In the summer of 2023 alone, PCA played a prominent role in six USA Gymnastics regional congress events, hosted workshops on Positive Motivation and Coaching with Empathy. These workshops helped to empower USAG administrators and coaches to refine their coaching talents and build stronger connections with their athletes.

Koven and Waldron explain, “Gymnasts often face pressure, stress, and performance anxiety, and an empathetic coach understands these emotional challenges and provides support by creating a safe space to express their feelings and concerns. Through PCA’s Coaching with Empathy training, USAG can educate our community on empathy and provide resources, tools, and strategies to help them create an environment where gymnasts can thrive and enjoy their gymnastics journey to the fullest. Time and time again, the participants who attended the PCA workshops shared that they felt energized, with a heightened appreciation for their important work and their pivotal role in the development of athletes.”

PCA has also developed custom articles for USA Gymnastics on a myriad of topics, from the art of nurturing parent-coach partnerships to managing expectations and engaging in empowering post-meet conversations. Each article offers invaluable guidance to the gymnastics community.​

In 2022, PCA proudly recognized USA Gymnastics coach Breasha Pruitt as its Double-Goal Coach of the Year award. You can learn more about Breasha’s story here, but she has not been alone in being a gymnastics coach recognized by PCA. In 2022, Lainy Carslaw was also one of PCA’s 25 National Double-Goal Coach Award Winners, and in 2023, Mitch Connor and Craig Thibaudea were two of 25 coaches receiving the honor.

Continuing the Journey

As we celebrate this extraordinary partnership, PCA eagerly anticipates the chapters yet to be written. The partnership between Positive Coaching Alliance and USA Gymnastics represents a powerful commitment to the well-being and development of gymnastics athletes across the United States. Together, we are working to create an environment where athletes can thrive, learn important life lessons, and experience the joy of sports.

“The gymnastics community has an exciting year ahead with the 2024 Olympic Games,” said Erica and Shelba. “While there will be a focus on providing all the support we can for our Olympic Team, we also will remain committed to developing and sharing best practices and guiding the gymnastics professional community with the resources to help them create and maintain a safe, nurturing the positive environment for all athletes. We are very fortunate and appreciative of PCA’s support and contribution to the work ahead.”

PCA is excited to continue this journey alongside USA Gymnastics, fostering positive coaching, leadership, and excellence in gymnastics and in life.

To learn more about what it means to partner with PCA, click here.