For Coaches Dealing with the fear factor

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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Do you guys have any particular tricks to get kids over mental blocks?

I'd mainly like to hear what you do with skills that you can't fully spot. I have one guy who has amazingly powerful tumbling (when he does a RO-BHS-rebound, his feet are at my eye level), but is afraid to do a back tuck. Here's the part that makes it difficult; he's 14, and too heavy for me to do a complete spot of the skill. With a smaller kid, I could simply do the whole skill for them (ie pick them up, turn them over, put them down) until they felt more comfortable with it, but this particular guy is too heavy and too powerful for me to do that. I've tried every trick I can think of, but to no avail so far.

Any thoughts?

Here's a brief rundown:
-14 years old, I'd estimate 115 lbs
-On his RO-BHS-rebound, his feet reach my eye level easily; were he to actually throw the tuck, I could perhaps bump and catch, but I wouldn't be able to reach him in the middle of the skill
-A few months ago, he overrotated a back tuck and landed flat on his back. He has done a few since then, but recently (after a nasty fall from rings at a meet) has become a lot more fearful of everything, especially the back tuck
-He's afraid to pit tumble, and even if he wasn't, I don't know if I'd let him work the skill into a pit; back when he was doing the skill, it the whole thing travelled backwards two inches, if that; it went literally straight up and straight down.
-He's completely comfortable with back tucks on trampoline as well as standing back tucks -- his standing tucks are among the highest I've ever seen.
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1. Give it time.

2. RO-BHS flyback onto a high (close to head height) stack of mats. The top should be slanted back so he can go RO-BHS flyback to the the top with a backward roll down the hill.

3. Handstand snap down back tuck using a stack of mats, a mini tramp, and a overhead spotting rig. You can also do this one onto the stack of mats from #2 and get rid of the belt.

4. Don't let him crash anymore.
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1 and 4 are a given. 2 and 3 I hadn't thought of.

I'll see if he makes any progress with the flyback drill. As for the snap down back tuck on mini-tramp, I have a hunch he'll be to scared to try that as well, but I'll give it a shot. We don't have an overhead spotting rig, but we could do it into a pit.
I was hoping you had a's a great way to give a secure feeling to the gymnast throughout the entire skill. On the other hand, you can basically give them no spot if you let the ropes slack a bit. Although I don't use the rig much...I definitely couldn't go without it (of course...I don't have a pit at my current gym:mad:). I actually have anchors all over the ceiling so I can more the rig to various spots around the gym.
Try finding a copy a Mark Gibson's "Going For It" series--there are 2 books, both are great! Unfortunately the books are no longer printed, but you can find them on, ebay, or a library probably. The books are motivational tools for both coach and gymnast. They mainly deal with how to handle fear, challenges, and learning new skills.
He got his back tuck back!

At practice last night, I tried to set up some drills for him to work on it, but he was in a sour mood and flat out said he wasn't going to do his back tuck. I told him if he wasn't even going to try he had no reason to be there and sent him home.

Today, when he got to the gym, he went for it with no argument at all. And got it. And after a couple of times he was once again comfortable doing it without me even needing to stand there ready to catch him.
That's awesome! :cheerful:
Sometimes they just have to know that you are not going to give up on them, but if they give up on themselves there is not much a coach can do.
A gymnast who performs better when the pressure is on!!

Good Luck at states!
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