Mental Blocks How Common & How to Help

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gym monkeys mom

Proud Parent
Oct 3, 2007
So I am curious how many gymnasts and coaches out there deal with mental blocks on various events. I am also wondering how you deal with it? Lastly does it seem to crop up mostly in teen girls? My DD's struggle as you all know is bars mainly giants. I told her today when she finally gets it right and competes one I will be the loudest mom at the meet. She said please NO not that. LOL I do know it is a problem for more than her and more than on bars. So do you all use a particular book or method.
I see a mental block and being scared of something two different things. I would define a mental block as loosing a skill after you have already learned it. In that case I have had to deal with it a couple of times. And what I normally do is start back at the very basics of the skills and hand spot everything including the skills the gymnast is having problems with.

I am also reward the gymnast with something special after they overcome their fear.


They're sooo common - I would start over at the basics of the skills, and spot. Also, maybe do it into a pit (vaults, tumbling, and dismounts), or on a low beam if you need.


Staff member
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Proud Parent
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
All the time, it is a very, very common thing and it would be very very rare for a gymnast to progress too far in her gymnastics training without experiencing a few. It is normal. In gymnastics we are teaching their bodies to do new things, it takes time to learn. It can seem like they have something down and they will lose it and they need to go back through the steps.

Mental blocks are less common in younger girls, not because they don't have fear but because they lack forethought. A young child will often just trust, they know they have done it before so they assume they can do it again. The idea that they may hurt themsleves does not even enter their minds. This is most common in girls between the ages of 5-9. Once girls enter the preteen and early teen years say 10-14 then problems tend to get worse because they start to develop forethought and have a very active imagination. For the first time they will go to do a skill and their minds can picture the possibility of it going wrong in the abstract sense. They dont have to have seen it happen or even heard of it happening to imagine it happening. As they get older this fear does subside again because they become a little more realistic. They do realise that if they have done that skill a thousand times the odds are very, very low that this one time they will paralyze themselves.

It takes time to work through these mental blocks and through fears, but in the end the only way to over come a fear is by desire. The desire to do the skill needs to be stronger than the fear of the skill. She needs to sit down and think about what she wants, why does she want the skill? What will the benefits of getting the skill be? If she doesn't get the skill what will the negative consequences be? If the desire becomes strong enough she will do it.
Hi, yes I am 14 and I have been getting them quite often [really annoying!!!!]. It really starts a lot when you are a teenager and get older, cause you start to overthink everything, and your common sense seems to kick in. Haha I mean, then thats when you start realizing that jumping over a 4 inch beam is quite insane. Its also more common in certain gyms, it really comes down to how the coach helps the gymnast deal with it. Visualization helps, and also lots of drills. Starting back at basics, and repetition. Another drill is having the gymnast stand about to do the drill, and just not think about it. Then have the coach randomly say GO, and the gymnast should just go, that way she has nothing to think about. The most important thing is to NOT have the coach get mad at the kid, it just makes her more stressed and frustrated. Good luck


Proud Parent
Jul 25, 2008
Hi. My 10 year old has a mental block or fear of going backwards. She's fine with things where she puts her hands on the ground but she just can't make herself do a back tuck on the floor or a flyaway off the bars. Funny thing is that she has a great standing back tuck on the tumble track, and she will do flip after flip on the trampoline, but when she tries to connect a RO, BH, BT she will do the RO, BH and then stop. I'm not sure what to do about that.
Aug 26, 2008
Mental blocks are usually the child thinking "this is my limit, I can't do anything otherwise". My brother has that problem in swimming. Even though he is an elite swimmer (for his age-group) he'll still think "this is all I can do. I can't do it any other way." To get past the mental block the child has to think "I can do it..." and to think positive. You can get books on the mental aspects of sports and talk to your child about it. Ask them why they think they can't do it. Sometimes it's not the child being scared but them just thinking it's not possible otherwise. It's tough but you can overcome mental blocks.
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