For Parents Mental recovery from bad meets

cogymmom2dd

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We had our first meet of the season this weekend and my DD1, L7 didn’t do well... at all. She has always been a podium finisher in all events over the past 6 seasons and today she placed in vault, but totally bombed her beam and bars routine.
She had a complete mental block on beam and did not complete her flight series and fell 3 times. On bars, she fell twice trying to get her squat-on to the high bar and wasn’t able to pick up enough momentum to do her giant. She had the lowest score on those 2 events. She also asked for a sting mat to be placed out for her first tumbling pass on floor routine and she has never needed one. She competed the exact same routine Last year without.
She is really down on herself right now. She asked not not go to practice tomorrow, mainly because I think she is embarrassed.
I am not sure how to help her. I don’t think that skipping practice is the solution. If anything, she needs extra practice. Maybe a 1:1 private with a coach to help boost her confidence? We did that after a crappy meet (and by crappy, she scored a 7.2 on bars and was devastated. She would have killed for a 7.2 score today).
She has another meet at the end of this month barring no cancellations because of the increase in COVID casesand said something like well if I don’t do good then, you can just make me a non-compete for the rest of the year. I am so used to praising her for all of her accomplishments and having the bar set high for her as a result that I don’t know how to deal with the opposite of that. I joked with her that it’s 2020, so things just don’t get to go the way you think they might. Plus, she missed out on 3 months worth of training, has reduced practice hours to keep groups smaller, and didn’t have a Intensive team camp this summer like usual so it is what it is.
I had some concerns about her moving to L7, she was a brand new L6 last year and only competed in 2 meets on that level due to her having the flu and then our state closing down. Coaches assured me that she has the necessary skills for 7 and it was appropriate. Well, those skills are the ones that she totally missed today.
I know that she should be thankful that she has the opportunity to compete a few times this season, but I’m afraid that if the continues to do poorly, it will effect her more negatively than skipping out on a whole season and it may be the tipping point for her to throw in the towel on gymnastics as a whole.
How do you comfort them after a crappy meet? I did take her to get some ice cream and she met up with a friend (non-gymnast) at the park today to hang out, essentially treating it like I did with friends after a bad breakup in college. Is there anything else I can do?
 

ldw4mlo

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Gymnastics and life really is not about medals and podiums....

Optionals is hard.

She needs to focus on what went well. And what she can work on. So that’s where you need to direct her thoughts. Have the conversation with her that she should be having in her head.

And you can’t fix it. You can just help her “deal”. These are life lessons. As parents we can’t kiss it and make it all better, once they get past 4 or 5.

Not going to practice should not even be an option. Practice is where gymnastics happen, not at meets.

Gymnastics is hard. If she is not willing to deal with that then yes, perhaps gymnastics is not her path. That’s not a tragedy.

She is doing things most kids won’t or don’t. That’s where she needs to focus
 

cogymmom2dd

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Gymnastics and life really is not about medals and podiums....

Optionals is hard.

She needs to focus on what went well. And what she can work on. So that’s where you need to direct her thoughts. Have the conversation with her that she should be having in her head.

And you can’t fix it. You can just help her “deal”. These are life lessons. As parents we can’t kiss it and make it all better, once they get past 4 or 5.

Not going to practice should not even be an option. Practice is where gymnastics happen, not at meets.

Gymnastics is hard. If she is not willing to deal with that then yes, perhaps gymnastics is not her path. That’s not a tragedy.

She is doing things most kids won’t or don’t. That’s where she needs to focus
Thank you.
We did have a conversation last year when she moved to L6 that she shouldn’t expect higher scores because it’s different and harder. We went in with that mindset and she proved us wrong in the 2 meets that she competed in by placing in all events.
She DID do well on floor and vault today but she could not get over her beam score. She placed on vault and did her BHS entry for that, which is a new skill for her. She also did well on floor.
I usually leave it up to the coaches to be the ones to comfort them in the moment, give them a hug, hold their hands and give them a pep talk before the next event. However, times are weird and there’s no hugging or touching (aside from spotting) or getting too close so I think that also has a profound impact.
I do think that gymnastics is her path for now. She will tell you it’s her life. It’s her breath. She just had a bad day and I think had a knee jerk reaction like most 11 year olds have to things.
And, if it’s not her path, it is our family’s path because I have another DD on team and another on pre-team. So, if she quits it still doesn’t change the fact that she will still have to travel to meets with us.
It also doesn’t help that her younger sister did amazing today- she is a different level so we had one very happy kid and one very said kid.
 

ldw4mlo

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She DID do well on floor and vault today but she could not get over her beam score. She placed on vault and did her BHS entry for that, which is a new skill for her. She also did well on floor.

It also doesn’t help that her younger sister did amazing today- she is a different level so we had one very happy kid and one very said kid.
So she had good things happen..... focus her there...... she is missing the green lights in her life because she is focused only on the red.

Having a sibling in the same sport is hard. Being a parent of those 2 siblings even harder And their paths are different. They each have their own lane. Keep the focus on her lane and on what went well.
 

GreggP

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As some general advice, it might be helpful for your daughter to read about other athletes that have had adversity, and how it actually pushed them into even greater achievements. Michael Jordan was cut from his team at one point. Tim Tebow lost a huge game in a college season, but then came back to lead them to national champions. There are many stories in the world of gymnastics (Mary Lou Retton is old school, but still one of my favorites). That might help give her some perspective and approach these setbacks in a positive way. Everyone makes mistakes. The difference in them holding us back or pushing us forward is in the story we tell ourselves.

As far as parent approach, it sounds like you are doing a great job. Keep up the environment for honest dialogue. Two rules I try to always keep in mind 1) Be careful about showing disappointment. Kids need to feel loved/accepted after a setback, and they need that most from parents. Communicating unconditional love, even non-verbally, can go a long way. (I had a bad habit of shaking my head and reacting disappointed when my son would not do well - kids notice things like that) 2) Always find something beyond the score or the outcome to brag about. Express how proud you are of the courage, determination, staying positive, etc. Hope it all works out!!
 

NutterButter

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Oh geez, this sounds like my daughter! Mostly my daughter was a top 5 finisher during all her years in JO but she also bombed in spectacular fashion more than once (I'm talking getting-the-lowest-score-in-multiple-events-at-a-single-meet more than once kind of bad). It's hard to see this happen to your kid but you are already doing a great job supporting her.

What helps:
  • ice cream or dinner out after the bad meet
  • hanging out with friends
  • getting right back to practice after the bad meet
  • telling her that you believe in her
  • telling her a poor meet is not an indicator that she's a bad gymnast or that she should quit the sport
  • briefly acknowledge the meet didn't go as well as she wanted (nothing more than acknowledgement though; you are not her coach),
  • acknowledge what did go well at the meet (there's a lot of joy in celebrating a teammate if they hit a new skill or scored a 9 for the first time or qualified for state or whatever)
  • discourage your DD from getting stuck in the rut of re-living/re-hashing what went wrong with her routines

What won't help:
  • re-hashing what specifically went wrong in the routine (you are not the coach)
  • comparing current performance to previous year
  • private lessons
  • blaming it on stuff like reduced hours or being moved up too quickly

Caveats:
  • sometimes a sudden change in performance is an indicator of an injury; if your daughter has been complaining of pain recently (even if it's minor pain) I would dig into this a little more. Sometimes they are hurt more than they realize and sometimes they don't want to admit how much pain they are in
  • True mental blocks can be tricky to fix. You didn't mention if she has always struggled with mental blocks and/or low self-esteem. Bad meets happen from time to time and you move on but sometimes the athlete can't move on and work needs to be done to address the mental aspect
 

momofsushi

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I could have written your message last year .... My dd went from having a spectacular L5 season to being last on her first L7 meet..... with multiple falls on beam. The pain lasted for a good 48 hours and thenn she went over it. But I too had to get over it, and that wasn’t that easy.... it was the opportunity to adress beam fear wixh was there for a long tine but was dealt with ( by my daughter). Coach didn’t made a big deal with the bad meet and that help to.
 

ldw4mlo

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My kid is 15, a L8 training L9. She has always been last or one of the last to get skills......

It was her kip, then her BHS on beam, her giant, her tusk, her twist, now onto her bar release /catch.....

She just keeps going.
 

ldw4mlo

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My kid is 15, a L8 training L9. She has always been last or one of the last to get skills......

It was her kip, then her BHS on beam, her giant, her tusk, her twist, now onto her bar release /catch.....

She just keeps going.
That went to the wrong post..... :rolleyes:
 

3cats

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I agree the pain last for the rest of the weekend and they bounce back. Usually after ice-cream my daughter felt quite a bit better. But the sting can last for a bit. I'm not totally against a mental health day, if she feels the need for a day off to decompress. If she does, make sure she gets to spend some quality time with you or friends to really fill her soul. Other than that just remind her that this is just one meet and has no bearing on the next meets results at all. And give her an extra hug. They are just littles after all. And I know I love hugs after a rough day.
 
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bagira

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Absolutely send her to practice, it will help her move on. I had been where you are many times, one time my daughter scored 4 on bars. We now laugh about it, and she wishes that I video taped that whole disaster of a routine (it was so long that my battery dies).

We usually don't really talk about meets after the day of, good or bad. I also wouldn't do private just because of a bad meet.

Beam series and giants are very hard / new/ scary skills for level 7 and many (most?) gymnasts would struggle with those. Add in the fact it was first meet (nerves).
 
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PeanutsMom

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My daughter was never really a podium kid in compulsories, but generally kept to the mid-8s and stayed there. First year of level 6, at our home hosted meet, she literally scored a 0.0 on vault. She landed on her butt on the first one (the famous buttahara from Stick it) and landed on TOP of the vault with her feet on the second. Normally that would have devastated her and ruined the rest of the meet, but for the first time ever, she was able to shake it off. The next event was bars and she scored her first 9 on bars ever in competition. I told her the most proud I was of her was how she handled the disappointment. I still share with her that her greatest accomplishment of level 6 was learning how to move past the mad and the disappointment to do her best for the rest of the meet and to still cheer on her teammates accomplishments. It has been a year of mental growth for sure.
 

GYM0M

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My kiddo has had some rough meets over the years for sure, but she bombed a big one in nuclear fashion. Technically fell on all 4 events, 3 times on her go-to event.....that was a incredibly challenging day, for her as a gymnast and for me as her mom. After it was over, I could tell she was barely keeping it together so I got her away from there as quickly as possible. The flood gates opened when we got to the car. The bad kind. The swells of silent tears and blank stares. I was completely helpless. Told her I would do/say/be whatever she wanted. I told her we could talk about it or that I was completely ok with pretending that it never happened. She didn’t say much for several hours, ya know, the one word answers.....We just went back to the hotel, watched shark week, and played phase 10 for so long that we started making up our own phases. Later on, I asked her what she was thinking throughout her silence. She told me she was going through all the mistakes she made over and over. You must’ve been able to see the concern on my face bc she followed up with going through the mistakes to dwell on them and then move on, which is exactly what she did. Was it such a remarkable dwelling that she never had another bad meet? Nope, lol!! I guess the truth is that every gymnast is going to process the disappointment differently and the best we can do as parents is be supportive because we can’t ‘recover’ for them. Ice cream, shopping, etc can bandaid a bad meet, but it doesn’t ‘fix’ it. This sport is brutal and overcoming these situations is what they’re talking about when they say it requires mental toughness.
 

CLgym

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@cogymmom2dd — Since misery sometimes likes company, I thought I would share that my DD (L8) had a disastrous first meet today! No scores yet (virtual) but she missed both feet on her beam connection. In addition to a fall, this means she doesn’t get credit for the skill and I assume no credit for the connection. Then she fell again on her single acro. Expecting a score in the 5’s I imagine. Mistake on bars too. I am proud she is taking it so well (no tears, focusing on the positives where she could find them including the fact that she stuck all of her beam skills in warm up). I, on the other hand, might need some ice cream.
 

txgymfan

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@cogymmom2dd — Since misery sometimes likes company, I thought I would share that my DD (L8) had a disastrous first meet today! No scores yet (virtual) but she missed both feet on her beam connection. In addition to a fall, this means she doesn’t get credit for the skill and I assume no credit for the connection. Then she fell again on her single acro. Expecting a score in the 5’s I imagine. Mistake on bars too. I am proud she is taking it so well (no tears, focusing on the positives where she could find them including the fact that she stuck all of her beam skills in warm up). I, on the other hand, might need some ice cream.
Ice cream and wine ( or another adult beverage of your choice) are both acceptable after virtual meets with the added bonus of not having to drive.
 

mom2newgymnast

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@cogymmom2dd — Since misery sometimes likes company, I thought I would share that my DD (L8) had a disastrous first meet today! No scores yet (virtual) but she missed both feet on her beam connection. In addition to a fall, this means she doesn’t get credit for the skill and I assume no credit for the connection. Then she fell again on her single acro. Expecting a score in the 5’s I imagine. Mistake on bars too. I am proud she is taking it so well (no tears, focusing on the positives where she could find them including the fact that she stuck all of her beam skills in warm up). I, on the other hand, might need some ice cream.
Sorry that she had a rough meet. :(
That's good that she is taking it well. My daughter had her first level 9 meet yesterday and had a disastrous floor routine. She fell on 2 of her 3 tumbling passes and thinks she probably didn't get credit for her double turn. Worst score on any event for her entire time in gymnastics and I think the worst score on floor at the whole meet by far. She also took it much better than I expected. I think she was upset at herself for a few minutes at the meet, but she shook it off and did well at her last event (vault) and then later was able to laugh about it. I consider that progress too! But I hope that she never has another routine like that again!
 

PeanutsMom

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@cogymmom2dd — Since misery sometimes likes company, I thought I would share that my DD (L8) had a disastrous first meet today! No scores yet (virtual) but she missed both feet on her beam connection. In addition to a fall, this means she doesn’t get credit for the skill and I assume no credit for the connection. Then she fell again on her single acro. Expecting a score in the 5’s I imagine. Mistake on bars too. I am proud she is taking it so well (no tears, focusing on the positives where she could find them including the fact that she stuck all of her beam skills in warm up). I, on the other hand, might need some ice cream.
Since misery loves company, I will add my DD's disastrous meet from yesterday. A week ago at an in house meet, she scored the higest all around score she had ever had. She PRed her beam (9.375) Vault (8.75) and had an AA score of 35.925. Yesterday, was nothing short of a disaster. She scored great first event (floor) and got a 9.3 (season high) but it ALL went downhill from there. She missed her first vault, ran past it, got her second vault (landed with her foot on the table) scored a 6.2 (we honestly thought she would get a 0 for that). Then on to bars. She has been doing great in practice..but yesterday went over the low bar on her cast to handstand, then remounted the bar, through her cast handstand but didn't get around on her clear hip..fell off again. But got up and finished the routine..she got a 7.2. Then beam..had two big balance checks, missed her foot on her dismount, apparently didn't get credit for her series from one judge, and ended up with a 7.7..all in all she ended up barely cracking 30 points for her all around.

We had a good discussion last night (I didn't know she had a headache the whole meet and took motrin after her floor), and she shared it was really hard to focus, she just wanted to get through the meet and "get back to practice and focus on the little things to make it all better next time." We talked about all the things she did well. She was proud that her giant was easy this time around, she made it first try in warm ups and even after the 2 falls at the beginning of bars. She was proud of fight to stand on the beam after 2 big balance checks, and she was proud of floor (an improvement from her first competition). By last night, the frustration of a horrible showing was a distant memory and she is fired up to make changes in the gym this week.

There is a shirt that says "Baseball -- 9 Innings, Football -- 4 quarters -- Hockey -- 3 periods --Gymnastics -- 1 chance"...it is SOOOO true!
 

cogymmom2dd

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Thanks to everyone for knowing we are not alone!
On a positive note, we had our first in-person meet last weekend. I was hesitant to let my DD’s compete because they were out basically all of December and the first week on January due to COVID wreaking havoc in our house.
Our coaches worked with them and ‘watered down’ their routines for this meet to at least give them the chance to compete.
DD1 improved her AA score by 5 full points. She threw her beam tumbling passes (had a fall but I’ll take a fall over completely not doing them). She warmed up with falls on bars and wouldn’t do her flyaway dismount without her coach standing there. I was like oh here we go again, but nailed everything in her routine. Same with vault. She didn’t complete one full vault in warm up, said she was scared to do her Yurchenko entry. She somehow managed to pull through when it was her time and had a first place finish. So, there is hope that things will get better. We have another meet coming up this weekend and she plans to incorporate her giant into her bars and do all of her ‘normal’ routines. She has already made a score high enough to qualify for state meet this year and I think that is what her biggest worry was. She also understands after many talks with coaches and a new after school group that she joined at school that is designed to help girls her age with confidence and empowerment that she has basically missed 4 months of training in the past year and shouldn’t be too hard on herself.