Anon Gymnasts who are scared of everything

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I understand what you are saying however lots of children have goals and aspirations they would like to achieve however that doesn't mean it's either physically and/or mentally possible. For example, a child in recreational gymnastics might have a goal to go to the olympics or be able to do a double back Salto but just because they want to doesn't mean they can do it. Personally I would let them do what they are comfortable doing and focus on your 8 other gymnasts for getting new skills etc. I'm not saying disregard these 2 gymnasts, I'm just saying I really wouldn't get stressed out about
Good points right there!

I've now actually tried the suggested technique. I tell the whole group the reasonable assignements and point out that they have to be active asking for help or any adjustments if needed. I give pointers and corrections, but mostly just praise if they do well. If they don't work on something that I have asked for, I'll remind the whole group once saying "please remember to askhelp if you can't do something without spot. It's your responsibility to take a charge and make sure that you get the help that you need". If they still keep avoiding their tasks, I'll just ignore it. If they do ask for help and then don't do what they were supposed to be doing, I will say: "no worries, let's try again". If they refuse saying they are too scared, I'll just happily say "ok, if you are not ready, fine, come and get me when you are ready and I'll help you".

For one of them this has worked great! This has actually been a really good week for her. She even did her RO-BHS-BT on floor _without_ the mat, and I don't even remember the last time she did it! I spotted her, but still. On beam she has worked on her BHS with good attitude, making a little bit of progress. She voluntarily gave up using the beam bad and did the BHS on the medium beam with mats under, and she was removing them one by one. Very slowly, but I liked her work ethic and she seemed determined.

And the other kid... On bars she actually hit her feet on the low bar in the giant for the first time. A lot of tears and a little bit drama, but I stayed calm, I said "good job doing the right thing after hitting the feet, you fell just like we had practices! It looked very safe. And now you have experienced the worst case scenario, and like you can see, you are fine. This happens to every gymnast at some point". After icing her foot for a minute or two she actually wiped off her tears and said "it didn't hurt as bad as I thought" and moved on to other thing. At the next practice, she did the giants again, with no problem! That was huge progress for her, because she has long history of _not_ recovering well from "traumatic" accidents. I praised her attitude and bravery a lot!!

But the other events... They've been a mess. I can see that she hates my new way of coaching, when I don't give her tons of attention when she starts to act up. Now I can actually see how much I've spent time trying to over talk her to try something while she just keeps refusing to even try. Now I give her options - she can choose to try, or if she doesn't want to, she can work on stuff she already can do. I always ask her to come and get me if she makes up her mind.

On vault she actually came to me after at first refusing to try her FHS that she was "scared of". I just said she can do straight jumps instead and work on drills. After a few turns, she asked me to "stand there" and wanted to attempt the vault. And surprisingly she did it. After that she said: "It wasn't as scary as I remembered. Actually I'm pretty sure that I was just overreacting at first"

No success on beam and floor yet. Especially the beam is so hard... Today she was trying to do her leap on beam, a simple leap, but opened her legs very very little, even less than usually. And she can do beautiful 180 degree leaps on floor beam. I asked if she was done with her leap assignement (knowing very well that she did as tiny leaps as she possibly could) and she said: "kind of. I'm so scared to do big leaps". I just said: "well, sometimes it's scary to do hard things, and beam is definitely scary for a lot of people, but you are the only one in charge of yourself, and you are the one who has to want to try harder if you want to improve your leaps. You just have to work your way up to her high beam". Then I just let her be. She wasn't happy about that answer, but I pretended I didn't see that.
They are not necessarely happy to stay in this level. They would want to improve and move up levels. They just like to stay in their comfort zone and can't really see how that affects their progress. I feel like their thinking goes like this: "I would really want to learn that BHS on beam, it would be so cool to compete it, but today I feel like I could possibly balk becuae I'm a bit tired, so I will suggest the coach that I will work on just leaps, jumps and turns today, but I will try that BHS tomorrow. Maybe I'll feel better about it tomorrow."
And I think that they genuinely believe that they will try it "later" but that later never comes. Does this make any sense?
I've had a number of this type of kid over the years on my HS team. We actually had two on the team this year. I never know if its truly fear, laziness, apathy, or cluelessness sometimes (I know it sounds harsh, but as you can probably testify, this is frustrating and confusing as a coach!) When this "I really want to work on this, but not today" turns into a daily occurrance, its time to have a chat with them regarding their goals and future in gymnastics. Its one thing to have a fear or a block and work to break through. Being unwilling (or unable) to work through a block renders the coach essentially useless in the process. I'm willing to spend hours spotting a kid through cartwheel/BHS progressions to regain back tumbling, but 10 minutes of negotiating with a kid every day to simply get them on the floor is a waste of everybody's time. If they have some good events, focus on those. If they want to be recreational gymnasts, that's great. If they want to take up basketball, go for it! But you are going to drive yourself (and the rest of your team) crazy trying to beg them to put in effort. As for my two girls, we had the chat with each: one faded away and eventually quit coming to practice, and the other worked through it and is doing very well!
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They are 11 years old. They can not work through a mental block by themselves and of course they want to work through it. No one ever willing attends 15 hours of gym a week plus open gym and competitions with ongoing defeats and fear without "wanting it". Did you ever experience a mental block (a real one, a big one) yourself? It doesn't sound like it. These are just little kids. Most grown athletes would not be able to work through this by themselves. How should little kids do?

Choose a strategy and stick with it.
Also if "later never comes" deep down they don't really want to do it
No. They are just experiencing anxiety. The problem with this is usually that they want it too much which creates the pressure and the fear in the first place. Not wanting it enough is usually not the cause of blocks.
I want to thank everyone for different perspectives in this thread!

I also want to give you a little update! One of the girls is all of sudden almost fear free now! I don't understand how it happened, but it did! Yesterday she did her BHS on the beam without ANY EXTRA MATS, without beam bad, without a spot! Just like that. And then she put the skill in her routine. She was so happy! This is a skill she NEVER had on the high beam without mats! She also did her RO BHS BT an RO BHS BHS on the floor like 5 times both, without ANY mats or spotting! Just asked me to stand there near by. She also did her flyaways on hard landings wich is also new. I can't believe it. She's thriving! Yesterday she got to update her goal skill chart and put so many new crosses in there. Now she's only missing 2 skills to move up to the next level. We had a talk and she said that she just suddenly feels confident again, after the 2 years of struggling. I could not be more happy! She was over the moon yesterday.

The other kid is also doing better now, on all the othe apparatus but beam. She did her RO-BT without mats or spotting on floor, and also her tsuk entry vault that she has been terrified for a year.

I don't know if it's just coincidence or if this new strategy is actually working.

Our competition season starts in a week and this is the first time that they are not panicing and totally freezing so close to the season starting!

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