With gymnastics and cheer seasons up and running I thought it timely to re-publish this article on understanding mental blocks to tumbling and backward skills.
Gymnastics season has started and my phone, email, and text are already lighting up with inquiries from all over the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France, and other countries. Gymnasts are looking for help with their mental approach to gymnastics. Parents, coaches, and gymnasts are searching for answers to anxiety, fear, lack of focus, mental blocks, and many other stressors that affect performance.
Facing Stress and Pressure
When the mind focuses too much on these distractions and not enough on just hitting routines problems can occur.
Working With the Best Gymnasts in the World
I wanted to re-publish an ESPN article that came out before the Olympic games. The article focuses on my work with 2016
Olympic Team, All Around, Floor, and Vault Champion Simone Biles, and team Gold and Beam Silver Medalist Laurie Hernandez.
ESPN’s Alyssa Roenigk did a remarkable job of capturing the essence of the mental/life training they embraced to reach the top of their sport.
Gymnasts, you can have access to the same mental training program that these two, and other Olympic Champions and Medalist embrace to reach their status as the best in the world.
Contact me for individual and team sessions. Yes, I travel!
Champions Mental Edge Video Series
Or check out the Champions Mental Edge mental training program. This ten part video series comes in downloadable format so you can have access to this state of the art program on your phone, tablet, or computer. It contains information for athletes, parents, and coaches on mental skills, peak performance, personality and performance, overcoming mental blocks, how stress and pressure impact performance, parenting athletes, championship culture, addressing the mental and emotional impact of sports injuries, and so much more.
Are ready to reach the goals you have set for your gymnastics season?
Step up! Take action now! Your gymnastics will never be the same!
Great article in Texas Monthly Magazine about Simone Biles, her amazing parents Ron and Nellie Biles, her world class coach Aimme Boorman, and the work Simone and I have done over the last three and a half years to help her prepare mentally and emotionally for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Early on a gray morning in April, dozens of elite athletes—rangy pole vaulters, wrestlers with bulbous ears, beach volleyball players with baked-in tans—hugged themselves for warmth on the windswept plaza outside the Today Show studio, in New York’s Rockefeller Center. In exactly a hundred days, they would march into Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium as part of the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics. But on this chilly morning, as they waited to appear on live television, the beaches of Brazil seemed a long way off.
“I guess this isn’t Rio,” joked a middle-aged spectator wearing a vest festooned with hundreds of commemorative pins from previous Olympics. Several of the athletes shot glares in his direction.
Meanwhile, the biggest stars from the most popular summer sports were standing apart from the other athletes on a sand volleyball court that had been set up for the occasion. Eleven-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, the swimmer whose rivalry with Michael Phelps in the 2012 London Olympics electrified audiences, chatted with Gabby Douglas, the peppy gymnast who led the 2012 women’s gymnastics team, nicknamed the Fierce Five*, to gold. Read more
Well, its that time of year again. Gymnastics and cheer seasons are cranking. My phone, text, and email are buzzing with calls from athletes and parents with girls who can’t backward tumble. Beam, floor, or cheer routines are wreaking havoc in the minds and hearts of these athletes. And parents and coaches too. In gymnastics it can work its way into other events as well.
From young ones to college age there seems to be an epidemic of these athletes suffering from serious mental blocks related to tumbling or “backward” skills.
That said I thought it timely to republish an article I wrote back in 2012: “Help I Can’t Tumble”. It provides great inside into the causes of these blocks and provides tips to help overcome these devastating issues when they arise.
From my experience with these athletes the ones who are committed to the process are able to work through the block and enjoy tumbling again. They understand that it takes time, effort, and focus. Just like learning a new skill they have to commit the time and energy to overcome the block. They work on mindset, mindfulness, breathing, imagery, and are open to calming any high stress events like falls or injuries that might be creating the mental overload.
If you read the article when I first published it I think you will find the reread insightful. If this is your first time to read it I hope you find it helpful.
Pressure is an internal or external force that can influence performance in a negative or positive way. How you handle pressure will be a key factor in determining how well you perform on the gym floor.
Gymnastics, perhaps more than any other sport, is executed under tremendous pressure. All eyes are on the competitive gymnasts, and the higher your level of competition, the greater the levels of stress and pressure.
Level five gymnasts will not feel the same level of pressure as a gymnast in the Olympic trials feels.
External pressure comes from outside sources like coaches, parents, and specific situations in competition. Internal pressure is self induced pressure that is the by product of negative thoughts and self talk, perfectionist attitudes, and self induced stress.
Pressure itself is not a bad thing. It is a necessary ingredient to achieve peak levels of performance.
Too little pressure and you are not mentally or physically ready to perform. Too much pressure and your mind creates negative and stressful thoughts. Your body tightens up and performance is hindered.
Every athlete has an optimum level of pressure that helps them reach their peak in performance.
By gaining an understanding of this pressure principle you can learn how to move your mind and your body into the peak range of performance pressure.
Here is How it Works
Make an L shaped line. Number it from one to ten under the horizontal line. Number it from one to ten to the left of the vertical line.
The horizontal line measures pressure. One represents little or no pressure and ten represents tremendous pressure.
The vertical line measures performance. One represents low levels of performance, and ten represents high levels of performance.
Somewhere on that continuum is a representative level of pressure that allows you to perform at your best. Just the right level of pressure creates the highest level of performance.
For example, Raj Bhavsar has an optimum level of pressure in the seven range. This means that to perform at his best, he has to get the internal pressure he feels to a seven on the pressure/performance scale.
If he is at a two or three he does not have enough pressure to perform at his best. He is not stimulated enough to reach peak performance levels.
At a nine or ten he has too much pressure and his body tightens, his mind begins to create stressful thoughts and his performance suffers.
In the team finals of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Raj had to hit his pommel routine to help keep the U.S. mens hopes for a bronze medal alive. Raj hit the routine, Sasha Artemev followed by hitting his now famous anchor routine and the U.S. mens team against all odds captured the bronze.
When Raj saluted the judges the energy in the arena was electric. It was absolutely quiet, but the intensity was beyond measure. My hands were sweating, my heart was racing, and I noticed I was not breathing. Keep in mind I was only a spectator.
Raj was an Olympic gymnast being asked to hit a critical routine on the biggest stage in sports, under enormous pressure. This moment could define his career as a gymnast.
At dinner after the Olympics I asked Raj if there was anything he did to help him stay centered and focused at that moment. With millions of television viewers, the entire U.S. gymnastics community at home, and twenty thousand spectators in the National Indoor Stadium watching, how did you do it?
Raj said, That one is easy, I found the level of stress in my body, it was a twelve. I imagined myself on the medal podium wearing an Olympic medal. I took three deep breathes to move the stress level down as low as I could get it, and I started swinging.
Raj utilized the pressure principle to move his stress level down as much as he could. He knew the pressure was not going to go away, but he also knew that breathing calms the mind and body, and lowers pressure.
Put this tool to work in your own training and competition routines.
Practice working with the pressure principle. See it in your mind. Visualize the graph and identifying your optimum level of pressure.
Begin to create awareness of this concept by working with mental imagery and breathing to move your pressure level to just the right place.