In gymnastics, as in other sports, coaches tend to focus primarily on the technical aspects of coaching the sport. In gymnastics, they are concerned with gymnastics technique, proper progression, form, consistency and all the other myriad of technique.
There is Only a Small Percentage of Difference Between Winning and Losing
When individual medals, both at the Olympics and local meets, are often won by only hundredths or even thousandths of a point, it is obvious that everything is a gymnast’s training becomes very important, because it may be the difference between winning and losing. And yet, if gymnastics is 90% mental (or pick any other percentage), then it is really obvious that almost all gymnastics coaches are not addressing a huge part of the sport.
The List of Excuses Coaches Use For Not Working on the Mental Aspects of Gymnastics
#1 – I don’t have time (Translation: I can’t organize time well enough to be a real winning coach)
#2 – I don’t think any of that stuff works (Translation: I don’t know what works)
#3 – I don’t know what to do (Ahh, the truth starts to come out)
Understand the Gymnast’s Mental Make-Up
Gymnasts (and all children and humans) have different personalities and emotional and mental make-ups. One-size-fits-all coaching does not fill all gymnasts. A coach with only one coaching approach may (or may not) successfully coach gymnasts who can utilize or adapt to that style of coaching. But they will waste all of the other gymnasts on the team, who cannot benefit or adapt to that coaching style. The one-size-fits-all approach is not really coaching at all, it is just a filtering process, and an extremely wasteful process at that.
Develop Appropriate Mental Coaching Strategies for Each Individual Gymnast
It’s not the very public, negative, screamed-across-the-gym, aimed at a group of gymnasts, comments that makes for a good team and positive progress. It is the individual, whispered-in-a-gymnast’s-ear praise or useful comment that makes a real difference. The right words, spoken at the right time, to the right gymnast, for the right reasons and in the right manner that will create progress, both physical and mental.
Coaches Know Better
Most coaches do know that the mental aspects of gymnastics are extremely important. But if you, as a coach, realistically look at your own study, research, experience and actions, how much time have your really invested in learning, using, testing and refining the psychological aspects of the sport. Regardless of your current level of coaching, technically, it is now time to start learning more about mental training and the mental coaching techniques you can use to produce positive and winning results. You know better than to ignore mental training. Now act on your knowledge.
Do the Math
Regardless of what percentage of improvement can be derived from gymnastics mental training, it is sure to have a potent effect on gymnasts who have only been trained technically and physically. Whether your gymnasts are scoring 7.8, 8.8, 9.45 or 14.5, a 90% (or even significantly less a percentage) improvement coming from successful gymnastics mental training can make the winning difference.
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