Random fears

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Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I'm sure we've all seen kids who, after crashing a skill, are terrified to do it again and take forever to get comfortable doing it again.

But what about kids who suddenly develope a fear of a skill they've never crashed on?

I have one girl (about to turn 11, which I suspect is part of the issue) who has absolutely the most beautiful and powerful RO BHS I've ever seen, elites included (she's L5). She has not once in the past six months crashed on any manner of back tumbling, but suddenly she's terrified of it. She is afraid of connecting her roundoff to her backhandspring, and afraid of connecting one backhandspring to a second one. And it's not a case where it's not as scary for her once she's done it; tonight at practice, she finally did one connected RO BHS BHS (out of one step, no hurdle), and it was absolutely flawless, but then next time it was her turn she was as scared as ever and wouldn't do it again.

Any pointers or insights as to what causes things like this?


Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Feb 26, 2007
Do you think the sudden growth spurt that girls experience around the age of 11 could be a part of the problem? I see a lot of our girls begin to have new fears when they suddenly grow. Things do not feel the same when they are growing so quickly, I also think that there may be some level of discomfort with all the body changes.:confused:

I think that all you can do is encourage, the desire has to come from within. SO I guess you take the skill back to it's most basic level. RO - stop, then either a jump back into a resi or a heavily spotted BHS, do that until she is begging to do it alone. Move on from there.

I really do feel fears are very common in the tweens group, not surprising really... Of course no two girls are alike, but I do think the key is a patient yet encouraging coaching style is the key.

Just my 2 cents....


Active Member
Aug 16, 2007
omaha, ne
This happened to my daughter Emily about 1 month ago. She has never fallen on her roundoff backhandsprings... most powerful tumbler in her level 4 star team(second year level 4)... could throw roundoff and 5 backhandsprings whipping down the mat. One day freaked out about it.. wouldn't connect it anymore, even crying when it was her turn. I told her coach and we just worked through it... She is whipping them down the mat again and even throwing roundoff backhandsprings backtucks now. I don't know why she got the mental block but it was very frustrating and I was worried she wouldn't get them back. I have read that you just start from the beginning and repetition of skill as long as it takes.


There are two girls right now at our gym-both level eights who have had back handspring blocks for three years and one and half years. now. And they're good and they've never crashed. Bith girls are amazing front tumblers and strong on all the other events. One's a freshman and the other's in seventh grade.


Active Member
Sep 9, 2007
That happened to me... I saw a girl fall and then I was just so terrified of doing the same and hurting myself I wouldn't do them. The coach had to take me back to the basics and gave a lot of pep talks.
I've heard of people who don't really want to do gymnastics any more freaking out too.


May 17, 2007
California, MD

Go to www.headgames.ws

Doc Alison was one of the presenters @ our Region 7 Congress last month. She works for USAG and other sports helping their athletes prepare mentally for meets.

My daughter "suddenly" became afraid of doing a fly-away, the one skill keeping her a level 6. She has watched her best friend do several with near disaster results from incorrect releases.

"Random fears" aren't random to them, they are REAL! The subconscious mind takes over and refuses to allow the gymnast to do a trick where she feels she will get hurt, hence called the "Fear Beast". Once coaches understand how the mind works, he/she can work with the gymnast to get past the fear.

Doc Alison says to remove the word "fear" from the gym. Fear stems from a loose mind allowed to wander during a skills and isn't properly prepared to do the trick. Once the conscious mind is harnessed, the mind goes into tight mind, tight body. Watch their face, it will tell whether they are ready or not. She also advocates no more than 1-2 baulks before removing the gymnast and helping get back to her mental conditioning.

Read her website and you may find the "fear beast" banished from your gym. The coach has a lot of power to be totally positive and not allow the gymnast to bring them into their "fear fest" of negative thinking. You hold the keys to her success, you believe she can, she will. Only allow positive thinking and talking, focus, focus, focus.

Read the article at the bottom of the website called, "Coaching to Overcome Fears".


New Member
Jun 20, 2007
Sydney, Australia
As suggested in other threads, most likely she has seen somebody else crash the skill badly. Some kids can't and should never watch other people fall (i.e. in a bloopers video), whereas others can take it (like me).

Fear in gymnastics is real. Confidence and belief in yourself is of utmost importance. So back to basics, and then positively reaffirming each step of the way. And patience.


As everyone else has said, most fears are brought about by something, and these are most likely subconscious fears that came into light. Also try to remember, as many have said, that girls this age have a lot of emotions and thoughts flying through their heads. One "random fear" that I have of everyday life is fires in my apartment, and I believe it came about after watching 3 buildings of an unfinished apartment complex be burnt to the ground. I feel the best way to get over fears is to break things down into smaller steps that the gymnast can do, praise them for doing each step and progressing onto the next step. Then, begin putting 2 steps together and continue--this will help the gymnast know that they are capable of successfully and safely completing each step of the skill!
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