Coaches Mental Blocks

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Does anyone have suggestions on helping a gymnast get through a mental block? I have a 12 year old training level 9. As the season approached she started balking at her events. She has had no serious injuries so whe know its not that. We cant figure out where this came from and how to get her trhough it.
I just dealt with a level 6 who decided to stop tumbling. The only suggestion I have is to go back to basics, to things that are easy for her and work back very slowly. Lots of drills and repetition. Be patient and calm. Good luck!
Not much you can do except back up to the basics, stay positive, and wait it out.

If she's 12 years old and doing level 9, it sounds like there shouldn't be any rush.

The most important thing, in my experience, is not to put a lot of pressure on her. Let her overcome it at her own pace. I've had a number of kids who I pressured for months to get over their fears, with no success. When I finally backed off and said "do it whenever you're ready," they were ready to try their skills again within a week (some of them within a single practice). Might not always work that quickly, but backing off and making sure you're not pressuring them too much seems to help.
I have all my athletes that are struggling with fear issues work on work book created by Allison Arnold. We also try to stop using "fear language" in the gym, sometimes thats pretty hard to do but we try our best. We use the concept of loose mind vs. tight mind which is easier to understand for the gymnasts. Because they understand the concept of a loose body vs. a tight body.
Thanks. I know she is frustrated because she doesn't know where it is coming from. Her coaches are frustated too. And its not helping to watch all of the other girls go past her. I understand about being patient and no pressure, but how long do you let it go before she has to force herself through? It just seems like at some point it becomes easier not to even try.
I wouldn't ever give up on trying, but let the kid lead you to what she needs. When I was about fifteen I completely freaked just as I was starting to learn a RO-BHS. This eventually lead to me being scared to do most backwards things - back tucks off beam, standing BHS on floor, flyaways. At the time I sortof knew that I needed to take more time with the basics and continue to work the skills with a spot. I ended up refusing to do floor (I was on the high school team so it's a lot easier to do this than a club gymnast). Now, 25 years later, I'm starting to tumble again. I'm slowly working back to tumbling with a new awareness of what I need.

I wasn't a very good gymnast, but the fact that I could continue doing the sport while working around these fears means I've got a lifelong commitment to the sport. I've coached rec, high school and middle school, I now judge, I plan to go back to coaching soon. The sport needs coaches and judges so remember your not-so-good gymnasts with major fear issues should still be nurtured to love the sport.

You need to make sure the kid is physically and mentally able to do the skill. Many coaches say "you can do this" and physically the kid can. But if the mental side of things isn't there, it's not going to happen. There's a fine line between pushing a kid through normal fear and pushing against a mental unreadiness. It's really hard to tell the difference. I suspect you'll know when the fear shows up in skills the kid has been doing for a long time or it's moved from one skill to a similar skill on a different event.
I reccomend the 5 step precedure for any skill that is giving the girls difficulty.

Step 1 - Mind check, ask yourself are you concentrating? Are you focussing in what you need to do? (ie thinking things like tight body, not things like I don't wanna fall off).

Step 2 - If step 1 fails. Visualise, close you eyes and visualise yourself doing the skill perfectly for a few moments and then reattempt.

Step 3 - If step 2 fails, go back to drills. Back to the things you did that taught you the skill at first. If it is a BHS go back to a few jump backs onto makts. Revisit the drills and reattempt the skill.

Step 4 - If step 3 fails. Seek help, perhaps from another coach and experienced gymnast, anyone who doesn't regularly coach you. They may be able to see the problem from a totally new perspective.

Step 5 - If all fails. Walk away, leave the skill for today. Try again tomorrow.
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