Too Old And Too Scared For Gymnastics

Subject: PLEASE ADVISE

hey john,

well i was really interested in that book but if you have others that would be ideal for me, that would be awesome as well, those new books you are making like the Secrets for Making Elite. i would love that but i would be too old for that now as i am 17 yrs. old but yeah anything that will help me get better with gymnastics and perform better.

also, when i do new skills i always think of the bad things that can happen. say roundoff on beam, i can do it fine but just the first time it takes me ages, like sometimes half an hour to do! can you help me with this? i would really like it if you could.

well i would be interested in purchasing one of those books. so yeah when they’re ready i’d like one.

thanx
(Gymnast’s Name Omitted)

Dear (Gymnast’s Name Omitted),

The Elite book will be a complete optional training program from beginning optionals to Elite for all four events. It is designed not just for Elites but those who want to try to qualify eventually. As far as being too old, without seeing you perform, it is impossible to really say, but we have had a number of age 20+ Elites in this country. It only takes 3 – 5 years to make Elite with our Elite training program so it is not totally out of line. We have an 18 year old former Elite who is back training again so we don’t believe your age is critical factor, only your goals and desire.

As far as negative thoughts, we are very interested in the psychological and mental aspects of the sport. We are firm believers in using every psychological advantage that we can and training the mind to be as tough as the body.

We use everything from daily and long-term goals, affirmation CD’s, hypnosis and hypnosis CD’s. Most of our psychological and mental program is customized to our individual gymnasts.

The situation you mentioned where you can already do round-offs on beam but have trouble bringing yourself to do, we commonly call having a mental block. There are a number of things that can be done to deal with mental blocks.

Often, mental blocks come from thinking too much. If your body has trained a skill enough, it should have become a habit that does not need conscious thought to perform. When the mind starts thinking about anything other than the skill, like “What happens if my foot slips?” the negative downward spiral starts. This is a common problem for gymnasts of all levels from beginners to Elites. It is not uncommon at all to have problems with a skill after it has been learned, especially if the skill is not done daily (which it should be).

Positive imagery (seeing yourself doing the skill in your mind perfectly) can be done before doing the skill, before practice and before falling asleep to help overcome the negative feelings over a period of time. Hypnosis works a little quicker but still takes probably 7 sessions to be effective.

In general for mental blocks, here is what you might do:

Learn to relax and control your anxiety. If you are having nervous problems with a skill, hop down and go off and relax yourself and get back under control and positive.

Instead of letting your mind concentrate on any possibility of injury, concentrate on all the preparation you have done with the skill that are going to keep you safe. If you are ready for the skill, the chances of injury are remote.

If you are thinking negatively, use positive imagery to see yourself doing the skill perfectly and then go and do the skill that way.

Listen to some motivating music to pump yourself up to do the skill.

Ask for some help from your coach, either ideas on how to get yourself to do the skill or a spot until you get confident again.

Back up in the progressions, move back from the high beam to a low beam or line on the floor and repeat the progressions that helped you learn the skill in the first place and re-teach yourself and rebuild your confidence.

Reward not punish yourself for any successes and ignore the obstacles. Just keep working to overcome them.

Watch some videos, preferably of you, or someone else doing the skills correctly to put the right image in your mind.

Hopefully, some or all of these things can get you started in the right direction.

If you let us know what skills you are working on and which skills you are having problems with, we might be able to help a little better.

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