Dr. Joe “Doc” Massimo: Gymnastics Coach, Clinical and

Sports Psychologist


Dr. Joe Massimo, the Gymnast, Coach, & Psychologist

Dr. Joe Massimo, affectionately known as “Doc” throughout the gymnastics community, began his career in gymnastics in 1950 as a competitor on the SUNY Cortland gymnastics team then in the U.S. Army and has remained active in the sport ever since. As a competitor, coach, and judge in the 1950s and 1960s, he was appointed to the United States National Coaching Staff in 1969 as a special assistant. This represented a historic moment in the growth of competitive gymnastics by hiring the first psychologist to join a national staff.  Dr. Massimo placed an emphasis on the development of a “mental strategy/game plan” coupled with a vigorous physical training regimen.


Dr. Joe Massimo on Rings -1950’s



Dr. Joe Massimo & International Gymnast Magazine

 Dr. Joe Massimo helped grow the sport of gymnastics in this country as a judge and journalist reporting national and international meets and results in Modern Gymnast Magazine in the 1960’s. He was also very involved in the transition of power from the American Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to the United States Gymnastics Federation (USGF), a predecessor of USA Gymnastics (USAG), propelling our teams into an international presence while working with several World and Olympic teams over the years. Also beginning in 1969, Dr. Massimo was the first psychologist to publish articles on gymnastics psychology and was given his own column titled “Psychology and the Gymnast” in Modern Gymnast, Mademoiselle Gymnast, and International Gymnast Magazines. He continued to be published in IG Magazine up to 2007 and currently contributes to The Elite Gymnastics Journal, a publication of the U.S. Elite Coaches Association.


Dr. Joe Massimo & USA Gymnastics

In the 1980s and 1990s, while continuing his coaching, Dr. Massimo was a master clinician and lecturer on the national circuit. Serving on the United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs Sports Medicine Council, “Doc” was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1993, and was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Region VI Hall of Fame in 1994. Appointed to the USA Gymnastics National Athlete Wellness Network as a Sports Psychologist in 1997, he has been listed in the World Sports Psychology Sourcebook, U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Psychology Registry, and the International Society of Sports Psychology.


 Dr. Joe Massimo, the Professor and Clinical Psychologist

Although he graduated from Harvard University with a Master’s and Doctorate in Clinical and School Psychology, many thought “Doc’ worked full-time in gymnastics. However, he was the Chief Psychologist for a school system in the suburbs of Boston for nearly 30 years. Supervising a staff of 23 psychologists, he was charged with providing services to 18,000 youth within the context of school and their families. Dr. Massimo also found time to teach as an Asst. Clinical Professor of Education at Harvard University, Asst. Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Sports Psychology in the B.U. Graduate School of Education as well as the University of Massachusetts. His clinical work in psychology has been published in every major journal in that field in the United States.


 Dr. Joe Massimo, the Author

Based on his school and educational background, Dr. Massimo is a strong proponent of supporting a healthy relationship between young athletes, their parents and the teachers and coaches who work with them. Thus, he is the author and/or co-author of nearly 100 articles on gymnastics psychology published between 1969 and 2012 as well as three books, Psychology and Gymnastics, Vol. I in 1986 and Vol. II in 1994 as well as Gymnastics Psychology: The Ultimate Guide for Coaches, Gymnasts, and Parents in 2012. In addition to coaching competitive age-group and Olympic gymnasts, Doc has also worked with elite athletes from the following sports: figure skating, kick boxing, swimming and diving, soccer, ballroom dancing, track and field, bobsledding, and golf.


 Dr. Joe Massimo, the Gymnastics “Doc”

“Doc” Massimo has coached at many gyms around the Boston area and has spent the last 20+ years at Massachusetts Gymnastics Center, previously owned by Bob Colarossi the former President of USA Gymnastics and past Marketing President for the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG).  Today, even though he is technically “retired,” Doc continues to spend his time in the gym welcoming the young students and parents, coaching Level 7 -10, and having “psych sessions” with the competitive gymnasts. He loves all the kids, regardless of the age or talent, and could not think of a better place he would rather be than the “gym.”


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