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DTAG

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May 7, 2020
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My ds has talked previously about what apparently is called the "coaches curse". Not sure if it is an actual thing or something he has made up. It's basically the ability to do a skill or a routine when the coach isn't paying attention, but as soon as they are watching, the athlete will tend to mess up. I get it, one would get nervous when they are expected to perform in front of someone. I imagine that with time, that will tend to go away. It seems to have for my son with his coaches. But wondering if a judges curse could be a thing, and if so, how do you get past it? This is my son's 3rd year competing, and he has never once performed his best at a meet. Point blank. We are talking about a difference of 5 - 8 points per meet possibly. He just switched to a new gym recently and had his first meet yesterday. His new coach was shocked at the difference in him between his practices and his meet performance. He will have his routines down and looking exceptional in practice. I really mean stellar practices. Then he goes to perform, and there are added skills which he throws in the middle of a routine, or he may leave skills out. He forgot to chalk his hands before his hibar routine, and he literally flung himself off of it in the warmup. It is honestly like watching a completely different gymnast at his meets. His coach said he will try to figure out a way for him to overcome this. Does anyone have any suggestions? Anyone experience this?
 

skschlag

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I have seen lots of kids have this problem. IT is probably a performance anxiety type thing. Hopefully the coach has some ideas. I know other kids who have tried to just treat meets like practice.

So hard to watch though :( I hope you guys figure it out!
 

DTAG

Proud Parent
May 7, 2020
106
41
I have seen lots of kids have this problem. IT is probably a performance anxiety type thing. Hopefully the coach has some ideas. I know other kids who have tried to just treat meets like practice.

So hard to watch though :( I hope you guys figure it out!
Definitely performance anxiety I am sure. He becomes super hyper, I'm sure his blood pressure is through the roof, he can't sit still, his personality just changes. When I say can't sit still, he started doing flairs on the floor during awards. He can't help himself. During his practices he usually works on optional level pommel horse routines bc his full mushroom routine with all bonuses is so clean. He couldn't stay on the mushroom during his warmup. He was spinning off, couldn't even get good circles on it. And then he pegs himself as not as good a gymnast as others because he scores lower than he should be. And while he knows "scores don't matter", he is competitive and wants to excel.
 
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Aussie_coach

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As much competition experience as possible helps. In many sports the kids play a game every weekend but sometimes in gymnastics they only compete a few times a year.

Performing under pressure is a skill to be practiced, just like any skill they learn.

I used to have a little trick I did with my students. I would only give them corrections when training the routines and skills in regular practice.

As the competition approached we would practice performing our routines for an audience (other team mates) just like a competition. When we did this everyone would cheer loudly at the end and I would only ever give them positive feedback at this time. Often I would ask the other gymnasts to give feedback too but it had to be positive, things they did well.

Sub consciously this creates an association in the gymnasts mind tying positive thoughts to performing in a pressure situation. They were only told good things in this situation so without realising it they felt they were good at performing in pressure situations.

They knew they were only being told the good things. But it made them feel good, so every time they performed in these situations they felt great.

The eventual results were that every member of the team was able to perform well in competitions and be at their very best when being judged.

After every comp we would go back to class and I would stand each up and tell everyone something great they did in the comp. Again they felt like they did well because I focused on the positive and so they continued to perform well.
 

DTAG

Proud Parent
May 7, 2020
106
41
As much competition experience as possible helps. In many sports the kids play a game every weekend but sometimes in gymnastics they only compete a few times a year.

Performing under pressure is a skill to be practiced, just like any skill they learn.

I used to have a little trick I did with my students. I would only give them corrections when training the routines and skills in regular practice.

As the competition approached we would practice performing our routines for an audience (other team mates) just like a competition. When we did this everyone would cheer loudly at the end and I would only ever give them positive feedback at this time. Often I would ask the other gymnasts to give feedback too but it had to be positive, things they did well.

Sub consciously this creates an association in the gymnasts mind tying positive thoughts to performing in a pressure situation. They were only told good things in this situation so without realising it they felt they were good at performing in pressure situations.

They knew they were only being told the good things. But it made them feel good, so every time they performed in these situations they felt great.

The eventual results were that every member of the team was able to perform well in competitions and be at their very best when being judged.

After every comp we would go back to class and I would stand each up and tell everyone something great they did in the comp. Again they felt like they did well because I focused on the positive and so they continued to perform well.
Oh my gosh that is incredible advice!! I could see this working as he really thrives on positive reinforcement. You can really see skills and routines change for the better when the gymnast is confident and feeling good about themselves. I can talk my son up all day but I'm his mom. That only goes so far. This sport is very much mental. I could see your advice yielding positive results. Thank you!! I will send this advice along to his coach, letting him know where I got it from. It may carry more weight coming from someone a bit more background in the sport. I certainly don't want to step on his toes, but he is looking for insight as well.
 
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Gymx2

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Oct 9, 2015
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I agree that this is great advice from aussie_coach and I think I'm going to employ it this meet season- no matter how the meet goes I'm going to be really positive and enthusiastic about things that go well. Every meet is going to be an opportunity to find improvements, whether it's skill based, or seeing examples of good sportsmanship. I can definitely see this yielding good results.
 
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Aussie_coach

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It really does work! What we believe about ourselves and what we believe we can do, has a massive impact on what we actually can do.

The way children perceive themselves is the way they become. The child that achieves highly at school sees themselves as a high achiever and continues to achieve highly, the child that sees themselves as the problem child will fulfill that and continue to have behavioral issues. If they have convinced themselves they compete well or they compete badly, it will impact hugely on how they compete.

As coaches we see it all the time, you ask any experienced coach and they know well before a child does a skill, whether or not they will go for it. We can see it in the way they run, the look on their face. If they believe they can do it, their body will let them. If they don't believe they can, then it wont happen.

The easy part of coaching is teaching a gymnast to do something, the big part is convincing them they can do it. A lot of the drills we do, are less to train and drill the body to do the skill than they are to allow the gymnast to work through steps to convince themselves they can do it.
 

DTAG

Proud Parent
May 7, 2020
106
41
It really does work! What we believe about ourselves and what we believe we can do, has a massive impact on what we actually can do.

The way children perceive themselves is the way they become. The child that achieves highly at school sees themselves as a high achiever and continues to achieve highly, the child that sees themselves as the problem child will fulfill that and continue to have behavioral issues. If they have convinced themselves they compete well or they compete badly, it will impact hugely on how they compete.

As coaches we see it all the time, you ask any experienced coach and they know well before a child does a skill, whether or not they will go for it. We can see it in the way they run, the look on their face. If they believe they can do it, their body will let them. If they don't believe they can, then it wont happen.

The easy part of coaching is teaching a gymnast to do something, the big part is convincing them they can do it. A lot of the drills we do, are less to train and drill the body to do the skill than they are to allow the gymnast to work through steps to convince themselves they can do it.
I was going to say something similar to this but thought I may have been crazy for thinking it. I will watch a practice and prior to a gymnast doing a pass on the floor, I can tell by their facial expression and then the start to their run whether or not they will complete the skill they attempt or stick their landing. The confidence is written all over their face. If they have that determined, confident look, they typically nail it. If they seem doubtful or unsure, usually they won't. It's mostly mental right? Granted I have zero background in this sport other than the last couple of years as a parent which doesn't amount to squat lol. But it is obvious. My son goes into a meet apprehensive, competes wobblyish, and then hopeful towards the end he pulls something off. He's confident in his practices and impresses many. Hoping the tips you provided will help him. I would love to see one meet, with him performing at his best.
 
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