Anon Is this a normal way to deal with a mental block?

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Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Hello everyone. Looking for seasoned advice on how coaches should/can best support mental blocks?

We are dealing with a talented young gymnast on our team (age 8) who was performing a solid ROBHBH, working on uptraining with backtucks and back fulls.

A few months ago, she suddenly starting asking for a spot during her ROBHSBHS. She didn't need it but wouldn't do it without. Then she stopped doing it completely. Now she won't do a BWO or anything backwards. She's gone back to working on the trampoline (won't do it) and now is back on the barrel.

I know mental blocks happen. My question is this - she was told that if she doesn't get her BHS back in the next 2 weeks, she will have to move down a level where they are working on learning the skill from the beginning. Is this normal? It feels sort of like a punishment but she's also not able to get a ton of support on this skill as her current training group is working on things that assume a solid BHS is already there. Thoughts?
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Putting a deadline on getting a skill where there is a mental block will most likely make it even worse with the additional pressure. I'm not a coach so I don't exactly what is required but I know first hand that threats and time pressure will just make it worse. They need to be supportive and let her start at the beginning.

Was there anything specific that caused this? Maybe the coaches we pushing her too fast with new skills like the full.
 
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Aussie_coach

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It’s possible that the gym is using it as an ultimatum to get her to throw the skill but not necessarily. For a severe mental block sometimes the only way through is to build the skill back up from the start.

As you say she isn’t able to get a lot of support on the skill, in the lower group, the others will be learning it and there will be lots of drills and spotting available to her:

They may be putting this idea forward to help her not to punish her.
 
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Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
Like someone mentioned above, the pressure to get the skill back within a certain amount of time will make the block so much worse. Even if she’s able to throw the skill in time so she doesn’t have to move down, the skill won’t be consistent. Also, throwing skills out of fear is a recipe for injuries.
 
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Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
My question is this - she was told that if she doesn't get her BHS back in the next 2 weeks, she will have to move down a level where they are working on learning the skill from the beginning. Is this normal?

I would say it's a reality check. If this is where she is at, then it may be necessary.
 

Jenny

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Sep 17, 2012
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I would say it's a reality check. If this is where she is at, then it may be necessary.
I agree. I think they could have phrased it better and said we will arrange for you to temporarily work with this group that are doing all the preps and drills from the beginning so that you can get your confidence back, rather than a threat.

That is what she needs and there is a group doing precisely that so....

Don't forget in a lower group she will shine on every other piece so won't feel so downhearted about the BHS. A lot of blocks at this age come from learning skills very fast where the body is able but the brain hasn't caught up yet.
 
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Geoffrey Taucer

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I think it's probably the right call, but has to be framed carefully.

I am emphatically NOT a fan of ultimatums and punishments when dealing with mental blocks. However, am a fan of taking kids with mental blocks back to basics and letting them work without feeling pressured.

So putting her in a group that is working basics is probably the right thing to do here, but care should be taken NOT to frame it as punishment.
 
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Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
This could be my child - 8yrs old...was always one of the strongest with tumbling. Got a block on her BWO on the beam that turned into a block on all back tumbling. The coaches worked with her and modified training (front tumbling, etc) for a couple months, but eventually the gym owner suggested a tougher approach...instead of swapping to front tucks/walk overs/etc, or offering spots, she was not allowed to modify anything and had to skip the skills she didn't want to do completely. Within three days she was back to doing everything on her own. Long story short, every child is different and while it seems tough, the coaches may be choosing this approach because they feel that is what would be most effective for the gymnast. But only you know your child, and if you feel that is truely a bad way to deal with it, talk to them!
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
I like the idea of switching to front skills, or anything that brings enjoyment and confidence, and maybe down the road dip that toe into backward skills again just to check and see. Ultimatums and anger are the worst methods. If a kid is worried about a skill, having a frustrated coach or a coach that isn't frustrated but has a history of getting frustrated... only adds to the anxiety. A girl at a gym we were at is an amazing level 10 and literally doesn't do back handsprings at all or really any backward skills except I think a back tuck on floor (?) and maybe a back dismount off beam, but her gymnastics is cool because it's different. There are gyms that really insist on backward skills though, which can be a problem.
 

GymAir

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So, here’s my thought: giving a time period to get it back is a problem. I think it can be appropriate, as others have said, to have her train with this group, but it does have to be framed properly. It can’t be a punishment. It should be the coaches deciding and saying ‘We’re going to start with the base layer of bricks and build back up again. Hey, it happens sometimes - you’ll get it back- no biggie.’ It has to be a plan - not a last ditch effort to exert maximum pressure. If you’re not 100% sure you have kid that will somehow rise to the occasion, don’t set a deadline and consequence. Don’t set up an 8 year old to feel like a failure.
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
I like the idea of switching to front skills, or anything that brings enjoyment and confidence, and maybe down the road dip that toe into backward skills again just to check and see. Ultimatums and anger are the worst methods. If a kid is worried about a skill, having a frustrated coach or a coach that isn't frustrated but has a history of getting frustrated... only adds to the anxiety. A girl at a gym we were at is an amazing level 10 and literally doesn't do back handsprings at all or really any backward skills except I think a back tuck on floor (?) and maybe a back dismount off beam, but her gymnastics is cool because it's different. There are gyms that really insist on backward skills though, which can be a problem.
I suspect she is required to do back tumbling at the level she is. So it isn't realistic to continue to only work front tumbling as that would lead to her not competing at all. I could be wrong.
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
I suspect she is required to do back tumbling at the level she is. So it isn't realistic to continue to only work front tumbling as that would lead to her not competing at all. I could be wrong.
I just texted her parent. Doesn’t do back handsprings on any event. Doesn’t practice them either, although I think can do an onodi but not competed. If she does anything backwards, it’s right out of the roundoff, but doesn’t do a lot of that either.
 

Anonymous Post

Secret Identity
Feb 16, 2022
561
I don't like the sound off putting a time limit on a backwards skill, and a punishment too. Those mental blocks will be built up more. I think the coach could take a different strategy: encouragement and support.
 

Jenny

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Sep 17, 2012
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I just texted her parent. Doesn’t do back handsprings on any event. Doesn’t practice them either, although I think can do an onodi but not competed. If she does anything backwards, it’s right out of the roundoff, but doesn’t do a lot of that either.
So she doesn't need to compete back tumbling at her level? That is confused as it said talented 8 year old on team. I assumed they would need to back tumble. What level is it? Excel?
 
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