13 Solid Ways On How To Get Over A Mental Block In Gymnastics
Gymnastic is a fast-growing sport around the world. It requires the combination of several physical skills like dexterity, body control, coordination, strength, and acrobatic abilities all rolled into one electric performance. This sport doesn't leave out any class or age group as it is performed by various age grades from high schools to colleges.
Gymnastics has evolved in many ways, and the crown jewel for any performing gymnast certainly has to be the chance to perform for a gold medal at the Olympics games. It's important to point out that while the physical aspect is quite important in this sport, the mental aspect is even more important.
Gymnastics, like every other sport, requires an athlete to have a clear state of mind to perform at an optimal level when needed. Often, we see athletes partake in certain rituals to have a clear and focused mind to achieve their goals.
How to overcome A Gymnastics mental block?
A lot of studies have been carried out on how best to overcome this awkward condition, especially when it has to do with gymnasts choking and blanking out on the big stage. However, there are ways to get over it in no time and prolonging your career.
1) Always take deep breaths
When you're agitated, and your body is in full flight mode, you tend to take shallow and quick breaths to boost respiration and supply oxygen to muscles in your body.
One great way to help your brain program itself to deviate away from all of the stress is by slowing down your breathing frequency. You might want to try this once you notice that your palms start to sweat, and your heartbeat starts to race intermittently.
A good way to make this work is by breathing in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth as deeply as you can. When all of this is done accurately, it sends signals to your brain, and your brain subsequently deactivates its flight response by sending hormones that shut down the stress response.
Doing this repeatedly anytime you feel stressed helps in reducing the possibility of a mental block.
2) Your muscles should be relaxed
In a similar manner to the quick breathing pattern, having tensed muscles send specific signals of fight back response to the brain. This is unhelpful when you're trying to ease off stress. You should endeavor to understand your muscle pattern and ensure that you relax them every time you get tensed up.
Relaxing your muscles sends signals to the brains, and the brain releases hormones that calm your body down. It's essential to try this out whenever you're about to take on a task, and you're feeling extremely tensed.
3) Picture yourself performing the skill in your mind
It is important to reiterate that painting a mental picture of you performing a task before you set out. It can either prove useful or disastrous, depending on how you handle the outcome. You can get on top of a task that has been proving difficult by creating a mental illusion of you performing such a task with ease.
It even becomes more helpful when the picture you create depicts the gym and environment where you're meant to perform such a task. Ensure you see yourself going the motions in a vivid and clear vision while ensuring you take note of every detail involved during the performance.
4) Do not perform under pressure
Fear and pressure remain the biggest factors that contribute to the mental block. Putting unnecessary pressure on yourself simply because you need to perfect a skill before a specific date doesn't help in any way.
You must step things down a notch when you start to feel pressure mounting on you to deliver.
When you try out a particular new skill over and over again, and it's beginning to get you frustrated, it makes more sense to slow things down and take a break for a while. Step things down while performing skills you're good at.
5) Set your sight on positivity
While you're under duress and experiencing mental block, it might just seem convenient for you to focus on all of the negatives in your life at that moment. This doesn't help you in any way to overcome such a mental block. You should endeavor to focus your attention on all the positives, including all of those skills you can do perfectly well.
6) Talk to your coach
Coaches are there to guide and advise you when you seem lost. A lot of coaches must have encountered gymnasts going through a gymnastics mental block at one point or the other in their elaborate career. Their insight and experience should prove useful to you on your way to conquering it.
7) Watch old Video Clips of yourself
If you are having doubts about your abilities, a good way to reassure yourself is by watching yourself perform those activities. Video clips are a great way of convincing your brain that you can accomplish the task. A lot of gymnasts have found this therapy helpful, and you'll do well to try it out on your way to conquering mental block.
8) Try different methods
You shouldn't restrict yourself to a particular method while trying to get your skill going again. Try to adopt varying practices and keep having a go at it. However, you must keep a clear mindset while trying these methods, and a pessimistic approach will not help you in any way.
9) Attempt the skill in a private environment
One factor that's usually responsible for a mental block is the inability to perform a skill in front of a watching audience. This significantly damages the mentality of the gymnast.
A good way to get over a mental block and achieve the performance is to attempt such skills away from prying eyes. This helps you to focus solely on yourself without the added pressure that comes with trying to impress a crowd.
10) Surround yourself with people who believe in you
This mainly works for gymnasts who are perfectionists. People who genuinely believe in you and know what you're capable of delivering won't find faults in your performances when it's not up to scratch. The more the support, the more willing you'll be to try out those skills away from your comfort zone.
11) Learn to adapt changes quickly
As an athlete, you're bound to experience changes now and then, whether it is a change in coaching personnel or a complete change in your training environment. You must learn to adapt quickly to whatever change comes your way so that it doesn't inhibit your development.
You should also learn to adapt to cultural changes as you might often shuttle between countries during the competition, and the inability to adapt to a particular culture and setting might significantly induce a mind block.
12) Embrace your passion
Being in constant fear of getting injured as a gymnast will not get you anywhere. It spells doom for your gymnastics career. However, an excellent way to overcome such fear is to embrace your love for the sport and overlook all the accompanying risks. This way, you get to make yourself happy through the success and exposure you gain through the sport.
13) Do whatever helps you to take the pressure off
In the end, it might just be the simplest of things that are needed to remove the mental block. Try to partake in activities that help you relax and take the pressure off yourself. You can go swimming, hiking, fishing or diving to relax your mind before giving it a go again.
how Does it affect your performance?
Having a clear mind is even more important for a gymnast as it is a sport that has far-reaching consequences once there's an error during routine performance.
Gymnasts often experience a situation called mental block, and it's not usually easy to overcome for them.
A mental block is to become unsuccessful when you perform a skill you've done severally in the past.
However, not being able to perform such skill isn't as a result of incapability or unwillingness to push yourself, but you find it challenging to take on the task. It's more of a mind thing, and even though your body tells you to go ahead with the task, your mind begins to play tricks on you.
10 Possible reasons for a mental block in gymnastics
Mental blocks have been responsible for a huge amount of athletes throwing in the towel in sports history, and it's a phenomenon that requires much attention.
These blocks can halt your career as a gymnast and even affect you beyond that. It begins with you not being able to undertake a routine skill, and it then escalates to a total loss of confidence; this is the beginning of the end for that athlete. Here are 10 common reasons for a mental block in gymnastics.
1) System changes
Athletes are prone to experiencing mental blocks when there's a huge change in their environment. A change in coach, training gym, school, or even the city can impact a gymnast's wellbeing. Young gymnasts are especially affected by such changes, and it tends to go a long way in affecting their subconscious mind.
2) Coaching deficiencies
Gymnasts are also affected by the way their coaches treat them. An ideal coach is not expected to be too soft or too tough on a gymnast, and this is often not obtainable. Some coaches try to instill fear in their wards to push them to break limits, but not all gymnasts are suited to this style of coaching.
The constant pushing and berating create a cloud of fear in the gymnast's mind, and this contributes so much to a mental block.
3) Fear of getting injured
It's a well-known fact that injuries are part and parcel of most sport, but then the constant fear of having these injuries has a significant effect on athletes.
Gymnasts who have had horrible experiences in the past with injuries are always in fear of getting such injuries again and reflect on their mental well-being. The fear builds up over time with each recurring injury, and it creates a significant mental blocks in the mind of the gymnast.
To prevent foot injuries, it is recommended to put on ankle braces while practising. Not only it helps with prevention, it also speeds up recovery of the injured foot.
4) Fear of getting embarrassed
This is particularly common amongst young gymnasts who practice in front of their peers. These young gymnasts often find it difficult to try their skills in front of friends and family members out of fear of being embarrassed while at it. This fear inhibits their mind and puts them under huge pressure, and this subsequently leads to an overwhelming level of mental indecisiveness.
5) Absolute Perfection
Some gymnasts are absolute perfectionists, and they derive no joy in mediocrity. These classes of gymnasts strive to attain perfection in all they do, and if at any point, they feel they cannot deliver the utmost best, they become unsettled in their minds.
It's even more obvious when they are performing in front of an admiring audience, and they try as much as possible not to take risks with their performance. These perfectionists will rather play safe than the risk it all.
6) Mental Imagery
This is common with athletes who like to picture whatever task or skill they are about to do in their heads. They play and replay a virtual version of themselves performing this skill, and this sometimes discourages them from performing such tasks. A recurrence of such a situation builds up a negative presumption in their mind, and this creates a mental block of huge magnitude.
7) Negative thoughts
A lot of athletes usually make considerations for worst-case scenarios whenever they are due to perform, and this doesn't help their cause in any way. They tend to look at the positives as well as negatives and often dwell on these negatives. This usually impacts on their mindset and builds up over time until they only see the negatives of whatever mover they are to perform.
8) Body Changes
This is one huge factor that isn't being given enough attention. As athletes age, their body starts to experience rapid changes, and the train tries to adapt to these changes.
One of the common symptoms of these changes is the need for the athlete to relearn a move that used to be automatic for them. While at it, some of these athletes begin to get discouraged, and this weighs them down mentally.
9) Parental pressure
Some parents contribute to their kid's mental block without even knowing it. When a kid tries a skill unsuccessfully, some parents berate such kids. This is often done with the mindset that such a kid isn't doing enough. The kid becomes frustrated gradually and tries not to disappoint the parents, and this affects the kid mentally in so many ways.
If you are a parent, here are some ways you can help your children with gymnastics.
10) Lack of patience
Gymnasts generally want to learn new skills rapidly, and this often proves to be their stumbling block. They exert too much pressure on themselves while trying to master the art involved in a particular move, and when the practice doesn't seem to yield results, they begin to have doubts about themselves.
These doubts might be the beginning of the end as it slowly builds in their mind and results in a mental block.
We've carefully outlined ways that guide you on how to get over a mental block in gymnastics, and it's essential to follow these tips to the letter.
First and foremost, admitting that you're experiencing a mental block helps you to solve a large percentage of the problem already. It's essential to note that performing sporting activities while not being in an optimal state of mind is not ideal and can end up being disastrous.
Several athletes have experienced mental blocks at one point or another during their career, and it's safe to say a large chunk of them were able to overcome it effectively. It all boils down to the mindset, and keeping a positive mindset goes a long way in helping you achieve desired results.