Many recognize the name Katelyn Ohashi from her viral gymnastics routine video that scored a perfect ten back in 2019. The spunky video went viral and to this day, has over one hundred million views. In that video, Ohashi is light, fun, bubbly and seemingly all around happy. However, her road to this centered and joyful state was not an easy one. Katelyn confronted many battles along the way while keeping up the perception of perfection.
It is no secret that many athletes, among the rest of the population, put a lot of pressure on themselves, their performance, and their bodies. She received comments like, “you look like an elephant” or “you look like you ate a whole pig” from her coaches. These are the people who are supposed to life you up and help you grow. On top of the rampant cruelty from her coaches, her mother, while less blunt, still placed a lot of pressure on her to remain healthy and physically fit. All of this negativity took a toll on her mental and physical health.
It is incredibly important that parents and coaches alike take a note from Katelyn Ohashi’s story. The most important aspect of coaching should be supporting your student to grow, evolve and improve their sport through proper support and positive motivation. The concept of tough love is drying up and has been proven to not be useful. Parents need to remove a lot of the pressure they place on their athletic children to succeed. That pressure can be toxic and permanently damaging.
Provide your athlete with regular emotional check ins. Ask them how they are doing and if they are taking care of themselves by resting and nourishing their bodies. Make sure they know that perfection is unattainable, and they should enjoy performing in their sport above all else. They should know that as long as they are happy, they cannot disappoint those they love.
Being the best and competing at such a high level was taking Oashi’s life, happiness and experiences away from her. She decided to step down from her elite gymnast status and compete at the college level with the UCLA gymnastic team. Many could not understand her choice to demote herself by choice, especially her mother. But once her mother saw the light return to her daughter’s eyes and watched her daughter begin to heal from the years of abuse, she supported her daughter’s decision.
Now having battled her demons and on the other side of the darkness, Katelyn Ohashi says that everything is energy, and you can decide what affects you and what doesn’t. Now, she is able to perform at the highest level one can perform at, a level of true happiness and bliss, as seen in her viral gymnastics video. You can get you athlete to this level of happiness as well if you are kind, gentle, and supportive. Because when you’re happy and surrounded by people who are kind, loving, and supportive, you can never be less than a perfect ten.