"The fear of facing fears is harder to overcome than the fear itself." - Anonymous
Previously we have discussed the power of "Yet" and how language can effect our actions. This time, I would like to discuss how our thoughts can effect our actions in the Gym.
Recently I found myself being encouraged to discuss this topic to a wider audience, and I couldn't agree more with how beneficial it could be. Yet it is such a vast topic, where would I possibly start? In that question I had found my answer. Uncertainty.
The words "I can't" are heard all too often in the gym, but they do not mean what you think. The words "I can't" are being spoken from a place of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. The words represent the self doubt we face when we are confronted with something new.
To dive into the unknown when there is a risk is a daunting task, no matter the age of the individual. The added threat of injury at any given attempt only makes it all the more challenging.
So how can we approach something that we cannot touch or see?
I believe understanding and acceptance are where a gymnast will make their largest strides to success. Fear is natural, and has been evident in nature for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no getting rid of fear. It is here to stay!
However, Fear is not bad. In fact it is incredibly useful. It will keep a gymnast concentrating on their technique. It will aid a coach in making sure a gymnast is ready for a skill before they attempt it. It will encourage precaution and sensibility in the most outgoing of gymnasts.
Forcing a gymnast through a skill might seem like the appropriate thing to do, either as a parent or as a coach. We might see it as a simple task, and we can see they are capable. Which in turn might get some of us a little frustrated, which means we can rush things. This can lead to "mental blocks" or "skill blocks". There is a big difference between encouragement and pressuring.
If you force a gymnast to attempt a skill there is a very strong chance they are going to bail. They are not going to commit to the skill, they are going to get half way through and then they are going to panic, and do anything they can to get out of the skill. The problem is, we aren't quite as effective as cats... so when a gymnast is high in the air and decides they don't like it, they aren't able to twist their bodies and land back casually on their feet. They are almost certainly going to land on the heaviest and most vital part of their bodies. Yep, you guessed it. Their heads.
This will only prove to the gymnast that their fears where in fact correct, the worst could possibly happen and they will get hurt.
It is important to remember that a child or teenager is not as skilled at identifying emotional challenges like adults are. They need guidance until they can find themselves at a resolution.
Here are some ways we can handle fear:
1. Identifying the source of the fear. For this you will need to communicate, unless you are in fact a mind-reader and in which case may i strongly suggest a career change! Is your gymnast afraid of the fall? The height? Have they previously attempted this skill and it didn't go to plan? Are they not strong enough yet? Are they worried about looking silly?
2. Game, set and match! You need to approach it in small portions. If they are afraid of being on a high bar, change the bar or raise the crash mats so it doesn't seem as high. If they are afraid of looking silly in front of their class mates, offer private lessons until they feel more confident.
3.Mental Strength & Focus. They are always numerous aspects to a skill, and you are expected to execute all of them... at the same time.. but don't over think it... and don't forget to set up the skill properly... oh and definitely don't forget to present at the end. That's a lot to take in right? Helping your gymnast focus on one thing at a time will allow them to truly be present, and focused. This also goes for life outside of the gym. They might have maths' homework, an art project due, a family dinner and an exam coming up they need to study for!
Help them to breathe, pick one to focus on for now, and feel confident in their capabilities.
4. Remind them how brave they are for even trying! Even basic gymnastics skills are not simple, and attempting them in the first place requires bravery & gumption.
There is a lot that go wrong due to fear, but also a lot that can go right!
Do not give up! It may take you longer than you expected but you can and you will get there if you keep fighting for it.
Who do you think should read this blog post? Tag them and let's start the conversation about "I can't".
Signing off for now,
We all know that gymnastics is great, and we love it! We also know that it teaches lots of physical skills to all those involved. A gymnast who has discovered new movement patterns, pathways and more can leave the gym feeling like they have learnt something. But what about the more important stuff? The skills that will stay with you for the rest of your life? By that I don't mean can you still put your foot on your head in 30 years time. All though that would be incredibly impressive.
I'm talking about those fantastic SKILLS FOR LIFE, that we pride ourselves on teaching.
The emotional and mental developmental skills our gymnasts might not even realize they are learning. Those skills!
I have asked a few of our amazing coaches to share what they have learnt through Gymnastics. So I thought I would share them with you also!
"Coaches, what is one thing you have learnt from being a part of gymnastics?"
Coach Saskia - Resilience. I have learnt how to take my time. People might get a skill before me, and that's ok. You need to wait and keep trying. "You're on a different time schedule to everybody else (when it comes to skills)".
Coach Judy - "That I can do things if i set my mind to it!"
Coach Toby - "How to adapt to different situations." Flexibility in all aspects of life. Emotional flexibility, physical and mental. Especially being flexible when it comes to time management. Being able to change things in the moment to be extra beneficial.
Coach Thomas - "How to fall with style!" Being able to get up from a fall both physically and metaphorically.
Coach Kelesa - Discipline. Growing up in gymnastics taught me I had to be there for my teammates. I had to get up early on the weekends, and train really hard. I had people counting on me. "Coming from an Acro background I couldn't miss any training session because all my teammates would be there and it would be bad for them."
We all have things that we will take away from our gymnastics experience. They will become individual to us and only we will be able to have that particular experience. This is why sharing our knowledge and applying it to our coaching is vital for us. We really want to help our gymnasts along in their own personal journeys. Who know's what they might learn!?
Did you want to see more blog posts like this? Do YOU have any questions you would like to ask the coaches? Let me know in the comments and I will be sure to make a blog post about it in the future!
Signing off for now,
-Yes, you did read that correctly. It’s also entirely accurate.
However, we don’t sit your little gymnasts down in the gym with a large text book on The Laws of Physics and ask them to “turn to page 203”.
Instead we are using Physical Sciences and Bio-mechanics to help teach your gymnast every time they do a roll, tumble, cartwheel, somersault or bar skill. Or maybe I should say, they are teaching themselves to be Physicists.
This is likely something that has never crossed your mind before, so let’s break it all down so we can understand together how and why Gymnastics is teaching your gymnasts Physics.
Let’s introduce you to some very close friends of a Gymnast: Velocity, Rotation, Momentum and Mass. These aspects of Physics are the driving forces behind everything you see in Gymnastics.
Expecting a gymnast to remember all the technical terms or being able to explain them isn’t crucial. However, without their knowing, they are learning to understand how they are applied to their actions and motion any time they do literally anything.
Every time they walk, they are learning how to adjust their Center of Mass. Whenever they run and must suddenly stop, they are making tiny corrections from their heads down to their toes that will affect their Center of Mass and Velocity.
In Gymnastics it is the same techniques but applied on a much bigger scale. As we all are aware, there are many apparatus’s and skills involved in Gymnastics and they all require a particular formula to be applied to get the desired result.
For example, when a Gymnast leaves the mat they have applied an angular momentum from their push-off. Once they have left the mat, the momentum cannot be changed. However, the Gymnast may be required to change the speed of their rotation while moving through the air.
Ok sounds simple enough, right? But how can they alter the speed of their rotation without pushing off an object? Simple. They can achieve this by changing their Centre of Mass from the axis of rotation. The Angular Momentum can be increased or decreased by compressing or expanding the distance between the Mass and the Axis of Rotation.
What I am REALLY saying is, the tighter the gymnast tucks… the faster they will rotate.
It might all seem a bit much and daunting, but that's ok! Our bodies are wonderful machines that can learn, adapt and apply these physics almost instantaneously.
Here is an informative video by Stephanie McGregor who is a Bio-engineering Major as well as a College Gymnast.
It is a fun video to watch, that will help to explain things a little further while demonstrating some very impressive Gymnastics Skills:
What did you think of today’s blog? Did you learn anything new?