WAG Mental block w/ twisting + going backwards?

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CoachMeg

Coach
Oct 17, 2014
288
Hey everyone! Long time no talk ;)

So I have a question mainly for coaches, but parents are welcome to answer as well if any of their gymnasts have gone through something similar. I was tempted to put this thread in the coaches forum but decided against it as this open forum gets a lot more attention and feedback which I'm in need of to help a gymnast by Tuesday's floor workout (but feel free to move if necessary!).

Some MAJOR changes have been happening at our gym lately (coaching wise) and I am now starting to coach the lower level optional group (aka the 6s and 7s) alongside another coach on beam and floor (it is a big group).

So lately with the group on floor tumbling days, we have been working twisting into the in-ground resi pit. The girls have been really doing well with it. Everyone is at least landing a 1/2, and some fulls. Well, except for one of the girls....let's call her Anna? (After the last thread, I'm sort of sick of the Suzie example ;))

Anna is a very powerful tumbler and you would think she would have absolutely no problem: she sets her layouts super high and was always one of our top scorers on floor. More importantly, last year she went to the Flip Fest camp in Tennessee, and was throwing double fulls into the foam block pit off their floor. She even successfully pulled around a 1 1/2 into an in ground resi like ours at the gym (her mom recorded it on her phone). Mind you, this was after competing level 5 (she skipped 6 and went straight to 7 this past season). She went to camp in late summer, so when she came back we were starting to prepare for competition season and that meant routines. I did not coach her level 7 group at the time (I did coach her in levels 3-5 though), but all of them competed just a layout, so they rarely worked any twisting during the season from what I gather.

Well back to the dilemma, we started working on twisting a few weeks ago and basically this is what went down:

I asked the girls to start with just a layout into the pit mat and once they landed, to immediately jump 1/2 or jump 1/1 out of it. Every girl understood and did it correct, except Anna. Anna twisted right off the floor and landed on her butt. I thought she was not listening to instruction and so I kind of got on her case about paying attention to what the other girls were doing. We were not twisting, just doing timers. Her response, "that's what I meant to do. My body just twisted".....ok. (She's 10 btw, and can get goofy at times). I told her to get back in line and try it again. Same thing happened. She started crying. She said just doing a layout and jumping around is confusing her because "her body is telling her to twist but her brain is telling her to just do a layout". She asked if next time she could just twist. I was a little skeptical about it, but gave in thinking it may help her. That maybe she really is just confused and just committing to the twist would help (after all, she did a 1 1/2 last summer at camp!....ok it was more like a 1 1/3). So next turn she takes....same exact thing. Twisting RIGHT off the floor, hardly even flipping, landing on her butt. I tell her ok, that's enough. No more. She needs to go back to JUST a layout. Well, next turn......same thing. Twists off the floor. She's bawling at this point, saying she MEANT to do a layout but her body is just twisting and she doesn't know how to just do a flip any more (mind you, we warmed up tumbling so she had already done layouts prior). I tell her to just do ro-bhs rebound as I don't want this to turn into a fear of back tumbling in general. I also spot her on standing layouts off a panel mat. She does fine with both of these. Finally, after about 15 minutes of just this, she asks if she can add the layout back in to her tumbling pass and that she feels more confident. I said sure, but I stood in to spot. She still twists, but I bumped her up a little with my hand so she flips a little higher and is therefore able to land on her feet.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. Do you think she just worked too far ahead at Flip Fest and now when she thinks about twisting, she thinks double full? Or do you think there's something going on that's deeper than that. We have floor on Tuesday and I'm not entirely sure how to approach the situation. We have a foam block pit but it's only off a tumble trak and that's clear across the gym.

As always, thanks for reading this long post! I look forward to your feedback:)
 

Muddlethru

Proud Parent
Mar 16, 2011
3,536
Not a coach, but my daughter had this problem. Having just finished Level 5, her coach at the time rushed her to learn fulls for TOPs testing within weeks. She was 9 years old and had not even done a layout yet. While she was able to do it at TOPS testing, she had trouble with twisting for a couple years after that. She was 11 years old in Level 9 and was still having trouble. She would get lost in the air because she would inadvertently twist, exactly as your gymnast. Anyway, the coaches in this forum will tell you it is vestibular. There are a lot of threads explaining this problem. She will eventually outgrow it but you'll have to take her back a step or two. My daughter did just layouts for a long time, seemed like over a year. The problem came and went. Her Level 9 beam dismount was a front layout. Funny thing, my daughter did a full on floor but had trouble with the full dismount on beam. I think she outgrew this problem around 12 1/2 years old. You should be patient with the gymnast. There are no quick fixes for this problem, just patience and going back to basics.

Dunno's explanation:
http://www.chalkbucket.com/forums/threads/when-is-it-time-to-quit-gym.41596/page-2#post-240614

A quote from dunno on how to possibly deal with the issue
"it's vestibular. and she may have learned them too fast and too close together and is causing a 'transfer' problem. i'm sure the coach knows that he/she must back up, deconstruct and then move slowly forward again."

There are a lot more on vestibular discussions in this forum.
 
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profmom

Proud Parent
Nov 18, 2011
9,461
Region 7
Also a parent, not a coach, but I think 4thelove nailed it. Progress very cautiously -- I wouldn't even try twisting until the layout is back and solid. And then maybe keep it on a trampoline for a while. As you begin to reintroduce it, make sure she does a lot of layouts during any twisting rotation so she doesn't lose the layout or get messed up even more.

One thing that's working for my DD if she starts to feel lost is to think of the base twist as the full (she doesn't really do halves anymore). Then a 1.5 is a full plus a half and a double is a full plus a full. She says that keeps her from being confused in the air much better than thinking of it as a one and a half twist or a double twist.
 
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cbifoja

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2012
3,007
My daughter just turned 11 and is just getting over a case of the "twisties". She had been landing her full for at least six months so it was a skill she was very comfortable with and felt good about. She is also one of the power type kids who had at this point, not really shown a lot of fear. So really about the same age and type as your Anna.

DD decided that she wanted to learn an arabian and began trying to figure it out herself rather than asking her coach. As a result, she lost her full. She described it exactly how you describe Anna's explanation....that her brain was saying one thing but her body was doing something else. She said that she was doing things "out of order". I didn't really know what she meant but I'll assume you do. She had been entered as an L8 for an upcoming meet (she competed L7 last season), and barely got that full at the meet. It was ugly and obviously not competition ready at that point.

It caused a lot of angst and she just had to stop working the skill for about a month and half. Then her coach took her back to halfs in the pit, then fulls in the pit....and that was a BIG step. We are almost 4 months away from that L8 meet and she is just now landing her full on an 8-incher on the floor.

This also coincided with losing her double-back dismount and her BHS BHS on beam. And did I mention puberty beginning and a growth spurt? So yeah totally vestibular but no less frustrating.

I would totally believe that poor Anna's brain and body are out of sync with one another. I won't presume to tell you how to coach her through it but thought maybe hearing DD's experience might help with the "kid" part of your gymmie.
 
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kris

Proud Parent
Jul 25, 2013
213
My daughter is having almost the same problem. She's a level 8 and confident with fulls, but is having trouble doing layouts without twisting. It's been going on for a few months. so frustrating! No advice, but I hope you two work it out quickly!!
 
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CoachMeg

Coach
Oct 17, 2014
288
Not a coach, but my daughter had this problem. Having just finished Level 5, her coach at the time rushed her to learn fulls for TOPs testing within weeks. She was 9 years old and had not even done a layout yet. While she was able to do it at TOPS testing, she had trouble with twisting for a couple years after that. She was 11 years old in Level 9 and was still having trouble. She would get lost in the air because she would inadvertently twist, exactly as your gymnast. Anyway, the coaches in this forum will tell you it is vestibular. There are a lot of threads explaining this problem. She will eventually outgrow it but you'll have to take her back a step or two. My daughter did just layouts for a long time, seemed like over a year. The problem came and went. Her Level 9 beam dismount was a front layout. Funny thing, my daughter did a full on floor but had trouble with the full dismount on beam. I think she outgrew this problem around 12 1/2 years old. You should be patient with the gymnast. There are no quick fixes for this problem, just patience and going back to basics.

Dunno's explanation:
http://www.chalkbucket.com/forums/threads/when-is-it-time-to-quit-gym.41596/page-2#post-240614

A quote from dunno on how to possibly deal with the issue
"it's vestibular. and she may have learned them too fast and too close together and is causing a 'transfer' problem. i'm sure the coach knows that he/she must back up, deconstruct and then move slowly forward again."

There are a lot more on vestibular discussions in this forum.


Wow, thank you for this amazing and in depth reply. Anna competed a layout all last year, so I guess it's just frustrating now that she's struggling to even do it into the pit. Especially since she has such big tumbling and so much potential to go 8 on all her other events. I've heard of "vestibular" from using this site, but it's never came up before in the gym I work at OR the gym I practiced at. A quick google search let me know what it actually meant, but before that I had not been aware that that was a common thing. Great to know! I had something similar happen to me way back when with twisting off beam. It just didn't feel like twisting on the floor and led to a downward spiral of fears on beam. I wish my coach would have been aware of things like this because it would have saved me from a VERY rough year, lol!

Again, thanks! I'm going to be searching the site for vestibular threads.
 

bogwoppit

Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
16,878
Wow, thank you for this amazing and in depth reply. Anna competed a layout all last year, so I guess it's just frustrating now that she's struggling to even do it into the pit. Especially since she has such big tumbling and so much potential to go 8 on all her other events. I've heard of "vestibular" from using this site, but it's never came up before in the gym I work at OR the gym I practiced at. A quick google search let me know what it actually meant, but before that I had not been aware that that was a common thing. Great to know! I had something similar happen to me way back when with twisting off beam. It just didn't feel like twisting on the floor and led to a downward spiral of fears on beam. I wish my coach would have been aware of things like this because it would have saved me from a VERY rough year, lol!

Again, thanks! I'm going to be searching the site for vestibular threads.


@dunno is a mine of info on the subject. If he does not pop up drop him a PM.
 
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stxrdusty

Coach
Gymnast
Oct 24, 2013
291
California
I have this same problem. After twisting a few passes (twist early) I can no longer layout without twisting. Usually this ends up in A) I twist later than usual which is scary but technically correct or B) Even earlier with a funky body position and me getting lost. Neither are fun options so I slow down my tumbling and go back to back tucks until I feel comfortable with the layout and then back to twisting. I've had this problem for close to 5 or 6 years now and I haven't grown taller for most of that time (I'm 19). To this day I still don't know what it is or how to fix my twisting (I can't set/wait before I twist) and I doubt it's vestibular in my case. I hope you can help the girl out. What's helped me some is doing standing tuck halves and standing tuck fulls into a pit.
 
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Sep 7, 2010
452
USA
Good day CoachMeg. I am no Dunno, but I have a couple of suggestions.

Work twisting from another direction (purposeful word choice). Let the "vestibular" age and mellow.
(1) Do your tasks and have the athlete work rotation shape. Set shapes and scooping shapes. Perhaps if done well to her back (correct shape) on the soft surface or even an elevated surface (a couple of 8" mats or even a bigger resi mat (ours are >32" high).
(2) Tramp for late twisting drills. Back layout to tummy drop and then bounce up and 1/2 twist to back. If she is excellent at the above, back layout and last instant twist 1/2 to back and then 1/2 twist to tummy. I typically use like drills for late twisting and it reinforces the late twisting and the shaping needed to do this. Movement analysis is easy from the coach side. I give the athletes an iPad w/Coaches Eye (video ap) and have them work (1) tight correct shape/as late as possible twist.

Twisting involves timing as well as technique and strength. Work the layouts work the twists and I am confident the two shall meet, yet again.

Best to you and the athlete, SBG-
 
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Sep 7, 2010
452
USA
Edit timed out:
The athlete is fortunate to have you in her corner. Go coach! This sport is a traditional sport done by modern athletes. The technique/timing/strength has not changed for this skill in a long time. The art is having modern athletes do it well. The art is providing an environment and workout atmosphere that allows all those workout ethos we aspire to have our athletes demonstrate everyday. Work the environment, including group, tasks and recognition, and you will have a situation to combat all learning/performance setbacks, including this one. I do not suggest that you have err'd in any way - things come-up.

The above is easy to type or say, but the art is doing it everyday. Sounds like the athlete is working on connecting to her body movements (nueral-muscular feedback). Work the recognition in her words. At a future date she will be glad that she has you in her corner coach.

Best, SBG -
 

CoachMeg

Coach
Oct 17, 2014
288
Good day CoachMeg. I am no Dunno, but I have a couple of suggestions.

Work twisting from another direction (purposeful word choice). Let the "vestibular" age and mellow.
(1) Do your tasks and have the athlete work rotation shape. Set shapes and scooping shapes. Perhaps if done well to her back (correct shape) on the soft surface or even an elevated surface (a couple of 8" mats or even a bigger resi mat (ours are >32" high).
(2) Tramp for late twisting drills. Back layout to tummy drop and then bounce up and 1/2 twist to back. If she is excellent at the above, back layout and last instant twist 1/2 to back and then 1/2 twist to tummy. I typically use like drills for late twisting and it reinforces the late twisting and the shaping needed to do this. Movement analysis is easy from the coach side. I give the athletes an iPad w/Coaches Eye (video ap) and have them work (1) tight correct shape/as late as possible twist.

Twisting involves timing as well as technique and strength. Work the layouts work the twists and I am confident the two shall meet, yet again.

Best to you and the athlete, SBG-

This is really great stuff, thank you! I'll plan on incorporating it into Tuesday's floor workout. Thanks everyone for the advice, this is why I love the CB community so much.
 
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D

Deleted member D3987

CoachMeg, the problem is vestibular. one of the issues that arise from vestibular is the twisties. i had them for a short time as an athlete and it caused me frustration and discomfort. i did some hairy stuff multiple twisting and flipping.

deconstruct. start at the beginning. and to practice jump 1/2 turns you should raise the floor. add a couple 8 inchers to the landing. this causes them to focus on the higher landing and not the twist. understand?

then, work front twisting. 1/2's and fulls. this will continue to train the nervous system and memory. give it a few weeks and return to back twisting. practicing the front twisting will help considerably. it's the way we're wired. :)
 
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gymdog

Coach
Jul 5, 2007
5,120
^ when you do the front twisting, start from a front pike open and have her twist when she opens. This transitions to the hollow entrance layout with head release for twisting (front whip technique).
 
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