I was watching some Ice Hockey highlights on ESPN last night and I started thinking. Spectacular performances will get an athlete on the highlight reel. But it is consistency that wins championships. ESPN was showing some amazing saves and equally amazing shots. What I realized was that the athletes performing these amazing feats were almost all on teams who were not really going to contend for a spot in the play offs. The best teams are the ones who had the most consistency from top to bottom.
In gymnastics it is my experience that consistency is rewarded over spectacular. A spectacular bar routine in February or an amazing vault in March may get noticed in your local news or make your own personal highlight reel but consistency will most likely get you to nationals. It is the gymnast who shows up for every training session with their head in the game who will likely perform at a consistent level and may even rise to the occasion when necessary. The athlete who is great one day, does not show up mentally the next and pouts the next may perform at a spectacular level once or twice but overall they will disappoint and fall short.
As coaches we must find ways to reward and reinforce consistency. It’s too easy to get caught up in the spectacular. Coaches also must also be consistent. It is imperative to maintain an even temperament from day to day. If you are not consistent in your behavior and actions how can you expect the athletes to be consistent?
Every day when you walk into the gym you need to have a plan (and a possible back up). Sometimes your plan can be, “We just returned from a weekend of competition with a lot of travel. Let’s start slow and see where we end up”. The gymnasts in your program need to be able to count on you Day in and Day out. They need to know that you have a plan that will help them succeed.
I have seen some very passionate coaches fall short of their potential because of lack of consistency. What is funny today must be funny tomorrow. Your expectations need to also be the same. You may need to take the time to explain to your gymnasts when expectations are increasing (You might be happy with a hit routine in October but that same routine in February has too many deductions for you to be happy with).
Now is the time to remain consistent.