A Gymnastics Take on Toxic Coaching – Brook Weinheimer’s Story

EP 290 Brook Weinheimer YT (1)

This episode is for anyone who’s had trouble with a coach, or found themselves worried about going to practice, obsessing over being perfect and more. Brook shares her story and how she became the coach she always wanted for herself.  

Topics discussed:  

  • Understanding how to manage fear 
  • Expectations of compliance, how it can hurt and how to deal with it 
  • When shaming and rigid rules don’t work and a better approach 
  • Creating a space of respect so kids feel okay talking to their coach 
  • What’s a positive coaching mentality, and how it can help 
  • How you can claim your power and ask for the help you need 

Brook has become an advocate for changing the culture of gymnastics after her personal experience. Coach Rebecca shares her story and how she’s now changing the way coaches can work with their athletes.  

Brook started gymnastics in 4th grade and continued to compete all through high school. Hear how injuries impacted her career and how she related to Simone Biles when she was at the Olympics.  

Coach Rebecca and Brook talk about what happens when your body is capable, but your brain isn’t on board. So many athletes are going to relate to this!  

Expectations of compliance are issues that Coach Rebecca and Brook have in common. While Brook always followed her coach’s direction, she shares how it took a toll on her mental health and how she coped.  

Note to parents: If your kid or their coach uses the term uncoachable, it may mean that the effort to advocate for themselves is not working, or that a coach is shaming them for not advancing at the rate they want to see. Brook explains what can work better in these situations.  

Hear how feeling invalidated impacted Brook. She was told “this is not a democracy” and took that to mean that her voice didn’t matter. She felt guilty for being afraid, and it also made her feel wrong for expressing fear.  

Coach Rebecca talks about the concept of consent. This is so important! You can say no! Brook shares how far “out there” this would have felt to her if she’d tried to say no.  

There’s a solution! Hear what you can do when the fear responses of fight, flight or freeze shows up. There’s a way to move forward, even when there’s fear.  

Brook shares how she coaches differently because of her experience and how she learned to work though her fear. Feeling heard and seen is everything. Creating a space for respect is key to working though obstacles.  

You have options. Brook realized that her value wasn’t based on her performance, and that her effort mattered. She credits Complete Performance Coaching for helping her see how she could progress with a positive coaching mentality.  

Brook’s tips for athletes:  

  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your coach 
  • Build confidence when you need it, even if it means a step back 
  • Be flexible and creative when you’re working on new skills 
  • It’s a progression, small steps matter 
  • Use your voice when you can (in private or semi-private sessions for example)  

Today Brook is changing the coaching dynamic. She sees herself as an advocate and wants to share both the good and the difficult parts of her experience so others can understand they are not alone.  

She sees how being positive and empowering with small things means it’s much easier to tackle the big things. Her coaching style is to be supportive to create confidence while teaching new skills. It doesn’t have to be one or the other!  

Here’s what Brook wants everyone to know: being an athlete isn’t just about toughness. Your best is enough, and you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.  

Her advice: If you need support ask for it, and parents respond calmly. A hug and a kind word along with listening are what your athlete needs. 

Follow Brook on Instagram @brookweinheimer23