Parents Help! Scared of a Skill

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Jan 17, 2008
Hello Fellow Gymnast Parents,

I am a new member and have a question.

My daughter (age 12) is starting her second season of L7 this weekend. She had a good year competitive last year but decided to stay a L7 to really hone her skills.

Her best event has always been Beam. She won the team award for Best Beam 2 years in a row.

Right before the Holiday break, she had a minor fall on beam. She was doing a back handspring. Landed one foot, the other slipped. She was not hurt and went right back and did some more handsprings

The next class she started getting scared. She has been doing this skill for almost 2 years. Competed with a Back handspring in her beam routine all last year (not falling on beam once! ALL YEAR!).

Now after coming back from break, she hasnt done one in almost 2 weeks. She will do them perfectly on a beam with a ProPit under. She will do them with a light spot by her coach. But then when it is just her, she is paralyzed with fear. She says she is afraid that she will miss her hands. ( she has NEVER Missed her hands)

Her coach has changed her beam routine for competion, taken out the BHS and added a Round Off. My Daughter is mad about that. She wants to do a BHS but just 'cant'.

We have offered Support, patience and incentives... We have watched hours of video, all her meets.. where she is doing it. She has done mental training... I am out of ideas.

Has anyone had a similiar situation? Can anyone offer advice?

Thank you!
This seems to be very common. The coach seems to be doing the best thing for your DD. Not doing the skill in competition may help her want to get it back in the gym.

A "lost" skill often has to be taken back to the beginning. A gymnast has to own a skill and feel completely in control of it in order to regain it.

I am going though this with my own DD, and if you look through the threads for the past week you will find more than one person is dealing with this.

Patience is very important, positive thinking, visualisation and excellent coaching will bring the skill back in it's own time. Reassure her that this is just a blip, and you know for sure she'll get it back. Let her coach guide her through it, that's what you pay the big bucks for.

It is very hard to watch your child struggle with an old skill, it makes no sense to parents, but preteens are not about sense they are about being.
12 is a difficult age; a lot of girls develop sudden and seemingly baseless fears at that age.

There's really not much you can do except to stay positive and wait it out.

I had one girl (13 years old) who, for 6 months, would not throw a tsuk on vault. You'd have to see this girl's tsuk to understand how irrational this fear was; we convinced her (after about an hour of standing there at vault waiting for her to get up the nerve to go) to throw a tsuk on pit vault at woodward, and the college gymnasts and coaches who were watching just stood there slackjawed. She has the single most powerful and most beautiful tsuk I have ever seen, elites and male gymnasts included. She very clearly knew exactly where she was in the air; she kicked out with perfect timing.

Took her about 7 months to get over it, but she's doing her tsuks again now. They still scare her a bit, and she still has this whole OCD routine that she has to go through before doing one, but she's doing them.

Anyway, nothing you can really do except keep at and stay positive, and eventually it will pass.
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Response to the Parent about fear of BHS on beam

As a parent of a gymnast (who made it to optionals after many years) all I can offer is empathy and observations (no magic answers) that if your dtr loves competitive gymnastics this will pass (yes it will even though it doesn't seem like it now) and time is the only solution and fear is actually something that can be healthy in a gymnast, so treat it as a positive. Seems like the age of 12 from anecdotal experience is when a lot of this fear stuff surfaces. I saw it in my dtr's teammates at this age time and time again and in my own dtr. I can't tell you how many skills she stopped doing for a while at age 12 and up..wouldn't do the flyaway (now she does this with ease and I asked what was the problem four years ago and she tells me now, she was afraid her feet would hit the bar which they never did btw, she never told her coaches either back then) She wouldn't go for her cast HS or giants (it was scary on the high bar she said). That lasted almost a year. She didn't do BHS on high beam for several weeks too right before her first level 7 season. She wouldn't do snap down saltos into the pit. There were some back tumbling issues too. So been there, done that. And she has overcome all these fears, every single one but it took time.

I learned the only person who had control over these issues was my dtr, not her teammates, not me, and not the coaches; and when she in her own mind was ready, she went for the skill. Even now she is cautious with her skills and the fear, not now maybe but in the future, will eventually work for your dtr's benefit because she will be a safer gymnast understanding her limitations. One telling statement my dtr made several years ago in discussing the merits of cheerleading vs. gymnastics, she said she never wanted to be a flyer in cheerleading because you always have to depend upon someone else to land. What she liked about gymnastics was she was the only one who had to depend on herself when doing a skill in a competition.

Finally what my dtr has found helpful btw is drills that progress to the skill. She likes when the coaches give her drills to work towards a skill as it increases her comfort level without actually having to do the skill until she is mentally ready. I think other coaches in this forum have alluded to this as well.

Anyway this will pass, have patience, reinforce that fear is normal, she wouldn't be a good gymnast without it and you have complete confidence she will work though this:). Who knows in a year or two your dtr will be a phenomenal level 8-9 gymnast and this will be a distant memory.
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There is a great web page about mental conditioning someone posted earlier on chalk bucket. I can't remember the name right now but, try doing a search here or google about mental conditioning for gymnastics. I used some of it with my own daughter who is also 12 and having issues on bars. Hey is your daughter competing in the Winter Fest meet this weekend? Just wondering because my daiughter is also a Level 7 competing this weekend.
She is competing at Winter Fest! I am really looking forward to the first meet. I think it should be just waht she needs to motivate her more. We have a mock meet each year in Dec. the judge that comes scored her a 9.0 on beam at Mock Meet *that was with a .2 deduction for her long pause before her BHS*. I think if she does well on all other events and knows she can do well on beam... I think it will happen, I just hope it happens before the end of the season!

good luck this weekend!!
FYI, I am the TC's spouse. Thanks for all the good info. I admit I'm a little impatient sometimes and it's hard to understand how my daugther, on the eve of meet season no less, could suddenly "lose" a skill we figure she's done appx. 2000 times (we figured out how long she's been doing them, the # of practices, etc.). I consider myself a fairly good, non-overbearing sports parent but it's hard not to get frustrated and say things like "how could you just lose it!?" and "Just do it!." Obviously I can't relate at all to something like getting up on a balance beam, and it helps to know this isn't unusual, and that we just have to be patient, supportive, encourage visualization, and, well, pretty much wait until she regains the confidence she needs to do the skill.

It's hard though. She'll stand up on the beam, set up to try the BHS, freeze up and literally start to cry. It's heartbreaking to watch.
It is very hard for a parent to watch a child lose skills, as it doesn't really make any sense to us. One of our Dads at the gym was going through a similar thing, we made him walk across the beam:eek:, he was very quiet afterwards.

If you think about even some of the lowest level skills, they are downright scary and dangerous. I think our girls often learn these skills before they are old enough to think too deeply about them. That is probably why coaches like their young gymnasts to be fearless. The preteens, 11 &12, are often the years where fears come into everyday life, so I suppose it is only natural that gym would be affected too.

I have certainly had to bite my tongue many times, especially when you know the skill is there, somewhere!

Parenting is a very tough job, parenting a gymnast just adds a whole other layer of challenge to the deal.:)
If you think about it, the entire purpose of beam is to screw with your head. Skill-wise, it doesn't cover any ground that isn't covered by floor; your average level 8 or 9 gymnast can do a near-olympic level beam routine on a 4-inch-wide strip of floor, but putting it up on beam is another story.

I want to thank everyone for their support!

My DD did her Back hands on the beam today!! YIPPEE!!

She was so happy, it has been several extra hours at this gym these past 2 weeks. And it was worth it.

I want to thank "Chalk Bucket" it really kept us going - reading some other posts and finding a link to a fantastic inspirational video someone linked to. The one called - do you remember when on You Tube.

I sent the link to my DD. We were both in tears... she told me tonight that thinking of THAT video is what pushed her over the edge.

Now, we just have to have the confidence that she will go back to practice and to them tomorrow!
congrats to you daughter!! positive vibes that she can do them again tomorrow!

never underestimate the power of internet "communities". i have been so lucky to find amazing online friends (for parenting choices, etc, and now gymnastics!!). it is hard sometimes for people not involved in gymnastics (or whatever your passion is) to understand it. sometimes finding those connections online are great.
Yea!!! Congratulations to her. It amazes me the inner strength these girls have.
yay.. i know you're excited and she's probably 100 x more excited!! Chelsea lost her bhs once for a few months a few years ago..
congrats! keep up the praise mom! Sounds like a big step in the right direction!!!
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