This has definitely been a strange year for many gymnasts but even still, there are some gymnasts who have been able to compete and are now getting ready for States!
I've put together 5 tips for how to score your best at States.
I know these tips will help you put it all together when it counts. And for those of you who aren't competing, bookmark this article so you can come back to it next season!
Tip #1: Trust Your Training
You've been in the gym training this season and now it's time to trust your training. While your State meet might feel like a really big deal, remember that it's just another opportunity for you to show off all of your hard work this season.
For those of you who feel nervous because you feel like you haven't had a lot of time in the gym this season (due to quarantine restrictions), it's important to remember that the gymnasts you are competing against have been in the same situation.
Even though you might feel underprepared to an extent, the feeling is the same across the board. You won't be competing against gymnasts who have had many more hours of training than you. The playing field is level.
So breathe easy and trust that you are as prepared and ready as you can be given the circumstances.
Tip #2: Perform Your Heart Out
Now is your time to show it all off! Have fun and think of each routine as its own performance. Show the judges your flair and let your character shine through.
You know the moves already so you don't have to think about each and every skill in your routines. Instead focus on your dance. Show the judges your personality. Smile, make cute faces, and look proud.
Gymnastics should be fun and your State meet should feel like a recital. If you are genuinely enjoying yourself then you are going to perform better!
Tip #3: Bring Your Form A-Game
Form is THE place where gymnasts get weeded out as far as scores and place at State meets.
You can have all the elements but if your legs are slightly bent in your leaps and tumbling passes, or your toes are flexed during your skills, or your arms are bent on bars, you are going to lose points. And these points add up FAST!
Don't give the judges these extra points to take off your routine. Just don't do it!
Think of your legs as being glued together like crazy glue.
Think of your toes pointed so much they start to cramp up (not that I want your feet to cramp but that's how hard you should be pointing).
No loosey-goosey arms on bars and vault.
Try to stick those landings as much as you can and if you need to take a step, take the smallest step you can.
Pull up in your core during your turns and when working on beam.
Think of strong arms and energy going out through your finger tips.
In other words, bring your form A-Game.
Tip #4: Have a Plan For Mistakes
Even if you're showing up to your State meet feeling prepared and confident, there's always a chance that you'll make mistakes. You're human.
Mistakes are not the end of the world. They might feel like they are in a State meet but THEY ARE NOT!
So what do you do if you make a mistake? You make a plan ahead of time for how to handle it.
If you fall, what are you going to do?
- If you're on beam, do you take a few seconds to take in some deep breaths and then get back up on beam?
- If you're on bars, do you chalk up again and reset?
- If you're on floor, do you spring back up and just keep going?
- If you're on vault, do you salute as strong as you can and leave the mat with a bang?
Have a plan that you've decided ahead of time for how to respond to your mistakes.
What happens if you forget your routine? Eek! This has happened to me all too many times and it usually comes out of the blue when you least expect it. If you're in the middle of a floor routine and you forget your routine, just keep moving. You might do a shasse or keep walking forward with some arm flair.
Typically when you blank out, it's only for a few seconds. Then your routine will come back to you and you can keep going. If you really forget then you can walk to the corner to get ready for your next tumbling pass.
If you forget your routine on beam and you're an optional or Xcel gymnast, just make something new up. The judges don't have any idea what your routine is supposed to look like so just improvise on the spot.
The best advice is to try to compose yourself so that it doesn't look like you're making a mistake. What often happens is that gymnasts will stand there like a deer in headlights and make it very obvious that they have no idea what to do next. Try to fake it until you make it if you forget a part of your routine.
Tip #5: Whatever Happens On Each Event, Stays On That Event
After each event, there's no dwelling on a past routine. If your beam routine wasn't your best you just have to let it go and forget about it for the rest of the meet. You are NOT allowed to ruminate on it when you get to your next event.
The past is the past. Treat each event like it's own new performance.
You almost need to reset in between events. That might mean closing your eyes and taking deep breaths before you head to the next event. It might mean imagining a curtain on stage opening and you are coming out from behind that curtain to do your next routine.
It's a fresh start from event to event.
Consider this true story:
In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the vault was set 5 centimeters too low for the first two rotations. Gymnasts were falling and missing their vaults. There were some scary misses and some shattered dreams.
Russian gymnast, Svetlana Khorkina who was slated to win gold in the All-Around, fell down to her knees on her vault. After that event she went on to make more mistakes and lost her shot at gold. American Elise Ray, missed her hands on the vault during warmups and competed her vaults feeling rattled. She fell on both vaults and ended up in 35th place after that rotation.
It was finally Australian gymnast, Allana Slater who noticed that something was off about vault which alerted officials to take a closer look. The vault was put back up to its regulation height and the gymnasts who had vaulted in the first two rotations at the wrong height were offered the chance to redo their vaults.
Unfortunately for Svetlana and many other gymnasts, they had let that event affect their subsequent events and were no longer in the running for medals. Ray fell on her beam routine and Svetlana fell on her release move on bars, both shooken up by what had happened one vault.
So the lesson here is to let each event go after you've completed them! Don't dwell on a past mistake. Treat each even like it's a fresh start.
Those were 5 tips for how to score your best at your State meet. Let me know if those tips helped below in the comments. Good luck and remember - You've Got This!
If you or your gymnast needs support, in addition to the resources below I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.
- Resources: Get gymnastics downloads to help your gymnast work on her mental skills in gymnastics
- Mental Health Training for Gymnasts: Help your gymnast learn about her brain and the fight-flight-or-freeze response.
- Free Facebook Group for Moms of Gymnasts: Join this group to chat with other gymnastics moms and get tips for how to help your gymnast navigate through the mental ups and downs of gymnastics