By Robert B. Andrews MA, LMFT
Well, it’s 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 was timely to republish an article I wrote back in 2012: “Help I Can’t Tumble.” It provides great insight 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, and imagery and are open to calming any high-stress events like falls or injuries that might be creating a mental overload.
If you read the article when I first published it I think you will find the rereading insightful. If this is your first time reading it, I hope you find it helpful.