Anon Cautious/fearful gymnast - your thoughts?

GYMNASTICS
Parents... Coaches... Judges... Gymnasts...
DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members See FEWER Ads!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.
Feb 16, 2022
729
Hi everyone,

I'd like to hear opinions from parents, coaches, or other gymnasts about what it's like to have a gymnast who is fearful of certain skills. In this case, backwards tumbling. I am the parent of an Xcel Gold gymnast (almost 12), who has had some fear related to backwards tumbling skills in the past. However, as she trains more backwards skills for XG (back tucks), I'm starting to see the self-doubt and fear creep in again. I don't think my child is therefore enjoying her time in gym, as she's learning skills she's kind of scared of and is convincing herself that she CAN'T do them.

Now, I'm not a pushy gym parent. I've told DD it's totally normal to be afraid and her coaches get it (they do and are being patient with her). But I don't want my kid to feel "less than" because she is comparing herself to teammates who have no issues throwing a skill. I don't think the coaches contribute to those feelings, but I understand that it would be hard for any kid to see their friends do something that they themselves are scared of.

A conversation with the coaches will be happening soon so I can get more details, because I rarely see DD practice. But she has told me that she's scared to do certain things, and I know it's only going to get harder from here. However, I'd also like for DD to be able to overcome her fears, within reason, and develop mental toughness - without pushing her to do something that's ultimately a recreational activity.

So, how do you know when the cautiousness is enough to keep a gymnast from progressing? When is fear enough to "keep working through it" or walk away? Hypothetical questions, I know, but any wisdom shared will be helpful.
 

gymisforeveryone

Coach
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
902
Fear of going backwards is actually super common. Many gymnasts have it at some point of their career. So first things first - breath. It will get better and it's not too serious. The more you ask about it, the more stressed she gets, even if you ask in a nice and caring way, and that will sabotage her progress even more. If she wants to talk, then yes it's fine, but if she doesn't bring it up, it's better to leave it.

Has your daughter always had it or did it become a challenge after mastering those now suddenly scary skills? Did she learn for example the RO BHS just fine, and then suddenly one day couldn't do it without a spot, or something similar?Or has she had a fear of going backwards ever since she started working on these backwards skills? Or did she get hurt or see someone else get hurt when doing a backwards skill? I'm asking because treating the problem would be slightly different in these different cases.
 
Feb 16, 2022
729
You have to help her flip the script instead of being afraid of going backwards and continuing to do backwards stuff that makes her feel bad she needs to learn a love of front tumbling! We have a girl at our gym who hasnt back tumbled really for 4 years and she is training level 8. She got creative with her skills and is still very successful. The girl is just now starting to learn her back tumbling slowly but surely. When you meet with the coaches hopefully you all can find a set of skills that empower your kid instead of skills that make her feel less than. I know easier said than done but she can do it she just has to start thinking about things from a slightly different perspective.
 
  • Like
Reactions: rd7
Feb 16, 2022
729
Fear of going backwards is actually super common. Many gymnasts have it at some point of their career. So first things first - breath. It will get better and it's not too serious. The more you ask about it, the more stressed she gets, even if you ask in a nice and caring way, and that will sabotage her progress even more. If she wants to talk, then yes it's fine, but if she doesn't bring it up, it's better to leave it.

Has your daughter always had it or did it become a challenge after mastering those now suddenly scary skills? Did she learn for example the RO BHS just fine, and then suddenly one day couldn't do it without a spot, or something similar?Or has she had a fear of going backwards ever since she started working on these backwards skills? Or did she get hurt or see someone else get hurt when doing a backwards skill? I'm asking because treating the problem would be slightly different in these different cases.
Thank you for the perspective! My daughter has always had a fear of backwards tumbling, and has gotten and lost BHS/ROBHS consistency several times over recent months. Took her quite a while to even begin BHS progression in the first place. There was no injury involved.

And after reading many CB threads and talking to other parents and coaches, I agree that this is a very common fear and I have let DD know that she is not alone.
 
Feb 16, 2022
729
OP here, with an update:

I had a good conversation with one of DD's coaches about this situation. While they're aware of her hesitance to tumble backwards, the overarching issue is lack of confidence. The coach noted that in practice, DD definitely will (try to) avoid doing "scary" skills, or just not give it her full effort. The coaches are very patient and do talk with DD about how she's feeling, ask her if she'd like to try the skill with a few spots, etc. to make her feel more comfortable. They have worked with her for a few years now so they already know she's not one to just throw a skill, but they're OK with that. However, the coaches *do* want her to be more willing to TRY. They let all the gymnasts know that during the summer uptraining, they don't expect perfection yet and it's OK to mess up. DD has a tendency - not just in gym, BTW - to not try if she thinks she's going to fail. Coach and I talked about ways to help increase DD's confidence. Ultimately, DD will have to make the decision to at least try new skills. The coaches will do all they can to support her, but they can't do the skills FOR her - she has to make that decision.

I also talked with DD about the coach conversation. I let her know that her coaches are very understanding and want to help her be as successful as she can be, but she's going to have to give more effort if she wants to see change. I compared it to when she learned to ride a bike. It was super rough and shaky and scary at first, but she stuck with it and did it. The same concept applies in gym. So much of the sport is mental, even when you're physically able to do something. My kiddo is almost 12, so she's old enough to understand these concepts, but putting them into practice....we'll see. ;) I think we both felt more at ease knowing that the coaches really do understand and want to see her do HER best.

So, DD will have a week off due to gym closure for break. Coaches will continue working with her when they return to the gym and reassess at the end of July for progress. We'll do some things at home to help get DD mentally ready. This is a good teachable moment for her that's so much bigger than gymnastics!

(Also, any suggestions for mental toughness training are welcome
 
Feb 16, 2022
729
As much as it sounds cliche, try introducing some mental toughness books or audio books. Honestly it seems that they all say the same thing, but in different ways. Eventually, you find one that says it in a way that connects with your child and they suddenly "get it" what you, her coaches and everyone else have been telling her. My daughter just finished "Mental Toughness for Young Athletes" on Audible she said she found some nuggets in there that resonated with her.
 
Feb 16, 2022
729
(Also, any suggestions for mental toughness training are welcome
I'm a few years older than your daughter and have had my share of mental blocks;). I've having a gymnastics journal (we really liked Perfect Balance Gymnastics: Overcoming Mental Blocks) can be really helpful. It is not a quick fix, but doing the exercises and the reading did make at least a little bit of a difference for me.
 
Feb 16, 2022
729
At 12 years old she can for sure understand that mastering whatever takes practice. And practice or learning in general means "Ever tried, ever failed, no matter. Try again, fail again, fail better." It is inevtable. Let her know you know she wants to be perfect all the time but this is just impossible. The closest we can get to being perfect is by mindful practice which means by failing again and again. We just suck a little less over time at whatever we are trying to master. Is she learning a foreign language? She did not start speaking it perfectly, she started by repeating greetings and good byes with a funny accent. The riding a bike analogy is a good one too as is learning to read and write. Perhaps look at her first writing attempts together. She'll get there!
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Em09
Status
Not open for further replies.