- Jun 4, 2009
Does your gym have a standard on what to do with girls who are mental blocking? I often wonder if anyone really has a handle on what to do when a child won't throw their tumbling.
We don't necessarily have a policy on it. There is normally a reason a gymnast gets a mental block, so we try and work out what it is. It could be that they have had a particularly scary fall in the gym or on their home trampoline (grr - don't get me started!) for example.
If you can find the root cause, you can normally work out how to get past it.
If there is no evident reason it could just be that they are thinking too much about it.
We try to get around it by making the situation as safe as possible. So for example, put pads down to land on (we don't have a pit) Have 2 coaches to support where possible, work drills time and time again. eg: Work somersaults on the trampoline. Do lots of specific conditioning.
However long it takes it is our policy never to make the gymnast feel like a failure. We are not a high standard club, we are more about making the gymnasts the best they can be in a fun environment. We had one gymnast who just couldn't do backwards tumbling at all for a year! She was about 13 at the time and she really needed to be doing twists on floor and at least her bhs on beam. We just had to leave her to get on with doing it in her own time! She still won't do her bhs on beam now and she is 15! She has pretty much all forwards elements on floor and beam, but at least she is still having fun and enjoying gymnastics!
A local 'high performance' club is pretty much the opposite. They don't want gymnasts with mental blocks. One of our ex gymnasts goes there now and her mum told me the other day that a gymnast wouldn't do her bhs on beam. She stood there for 10 mins crying and none of the coaches went over to help her out, then the head coach shouted from the other side of the gym that she should go and get dressed and phone her mum to pick her up! If I was her parent I'd have gone mad and pulled her out of the club! I'm not entirely sure what the aftermath was!
as i said in another post, the backwards problem is a vestibular condition. it comes and goes as the body and balance change. go slow during these times. you must wait for the readaptation to set in.
and obviously it is easier to work with kids that don't have this problem. but there have been some athletes that became L10 national qualifiers and a couple of elite national team members with this condition.
finally, there is nothing that can be done to change or alter this condition when it raises it's ugly head. you must be patient and wait it out. problems arise when coaches think they can control this problem further exacerbating the stress on the athlete.
i can tell you from personal experience that this condition gets better as the athlete ages.
the worst thing about having one kid start to balk and getting mental blocks is having it spread like a disease throughout the gym. that's a coach's nightmare.
Its not really idea to have a "policy" as such to deal with mental blocks because every gymnast is quite individual and each will respond differently to different methods. Coaches need to have a plan of attack for mental blocks but be flexible in their approach and realise that the same thing isnt going to work for everyone.