As a gymnast with big goals it's absolutely vital that you also have a big vision.
That's why you must cast a vision for your gymnastics journey.
If you look at any successful gymnast, you'll learn that one thing they all had in common was vision. Simone Biles wrote her big dreams of going to the Olympics in her journal years before it was a reality. Nastia Liukin created a vision board with her gold medals before she even won them.
Those two are examples of what casting a vision for your gymnastics journey looks like.
But you might be asking, what exactly is vision?
Vision is the act or power of anticipating what may come to be in your life and more specifically in this case, your gymnastics journey.
It gives you the direction you need to make your goals in gymnastics become more than just goals on paper. It helps you make them a reality.
Vision is an important part of goal setting because it gives you focus. It also determines what you do in every moment of your gymnastics journey.
If you feel like slacking off in practice but have a clear sense of your vision of making elite, it drives you to push harder in that moment.
Vision also helps you see the big picture in gymnastics. If you have a bad meet or get stuck on a skill, you remember that your struggle is only a tiny blip in your bigger vision. You are able to see those disappointments through the lens of a growth mindset because you know they all contribute to your success.
How Do You Create Your Own Vision For Gymnastics?
To create your own vision for your gymnastics journey, you start by getting crystal clear on your goals, specifically your big picture goals.
Ask yourself things like:
What is your big dream in gymnastics?
What do you hope to achieve?
Do you want to make it to the Olympics?
Is there a college you have your sights on that you want to compete gymnastics for?
Is making the National team your goal?
Maybe your goal isn't as big as that. Perhaps you just want to keep doing gymnastics for as long as possible because it's fun. Or maybe your goal is making it to optional level gymnastics or moving from Xcel to J.O.
Every gymnast's big dream is slightly different so it's important that you do this exercise for yourself instead of just picking something that you think every gymnast might strive for.
You can get yourself started on deciding what your goals are by finding a quiet place in your house and closing your eyes. Think about your gymnastics journey. When you see yourself doing gymnastics, what do you see for your future? What emotions do you feel? What have you achieved?
After you've done this for a few minutes, open your eyes and write down those big goals.
Creating A Gymnastics Vision Board
Now that you have your big vision in mind, you can create a gymnastics vision board.
You can make your vision board using any decorations you like but my one rule is that is has to be a physical version using paper or poster board and pictures that are glued or taped on.
There is so much power in physically doing this exercise versus using a program like canva to create a digital version of your gymnastics vision board.
The act of cutting and gluing makes it feel more real. It engages your senses and helps your brain really get into creation mode.
A Vision Board Is Only The First Step
The key, however, is not to stop after you've created your vision board.
Once your vision board is physically created, that's where the real magic happens, assuming you do the work.
Your goal is to look at your vision board daily and really use its power.
Every single day you should stare at your board and use it to conjure up the feelings you want to experience if you had achieved those big dreams on your vision board.
For example, if your goal is to compete for a Division I college, you could ask yourself:
What would that feel like? What emotions would I feel if I was on the team?
And then you take a few moments to actually feel those emotions.
So if you know you'd be excited and feel proud and confident if you made a Division I college gymnastics team, then you'd stare at your board and imagine yourself excited, proud, and confident.
While this might feel silly at first, it truly is the way that dreams are turned into reality.
Remember that your mind doesn't know the difference between an image it sees in its brain versus something your body actually experiences in real life. An image is an image according to your brain. So the more real you can make your visualization, the better.
Know Your Why
Even though you have your vision in your mind, there will be bumps and turns along the way. In fact, the journey towards your vision is guaranteed to go differently than you imagine. That is one thing you can definitely count on.
As a result, it's important to not only keep your vision in mind, but also to know your WHY.
Your WHY is the reason behind your vision. It is the thing that drives you on those tough days. It is what motivates you to continue pushing towards your goals.
A WHY is different for every gymnast.
Some gymnasts want to achieve their big goal because they like that feeling of achieving something big.
Others want to get a scholarship to a Division I gymnastics program because they need a way to pay for college.
Still others might love the thrill of the journey.
The thing is...you MUST have a WHY.
If not, then when the going gets tough, it's easy for you to quit. When you get injured or don't make it to the next level as expected, you should have something motivating you to keep going.
Be Open To A Different Journey
Like I said earlier, your journey is surely going to go differently than you imagine it to go.
But if you hang onto things having to go a certain way you will block off the gift that opens up to you when one road closes for you.
Maybe you expected that you would move up in level every year until Level 10 but you got held back for two season doing Level 5 and now you don't see yourself achieving your big goal in time.
Or perhaps you get injured and it takes you out for most of the competition season. You might feel like your big goal is no longer within your reach.
Bottom line. These kind of setbacks and twists and turns in your gymnastics journey WILL happen.
The sooner you can accept that and be open to achieving your big goals in a different way, the more likely you are to achieve your big goals.
Think of Ariana Berlin, a UCLA gymnast who dreamed of going to UCLA as a young gymnast (the movie was made after her story). A car accident left her seriously injured and doctors told her she would never again walk, let alone do gymnastics again.
She was determined to get healthy again and pushed herself to rehab.
In the process she became involved in dance and joined a dance troupe that performed a summer show in San Diego.
Guess who directed this show?
None other than the amazing Val Kondos, the UCLA head coach at the time.
Ariana expressed her desire to attend UCLA to Val and Val agreed to give her a shot if Arianna could get her gymnastics back.
Eventually Ariana did just that and become an important player for UCLA gymnastics.
The moral of the story here is that your big dream can still come true following a different path than you might envision. So you must be open to allowing your journey to unfold in its own unique way. Your goal, then, is to just keep the end result of your big picture vision in mind and conjure up the emotions you would feel if you had achieved that goal.
Let the universe do the rest!
Act As If
Finally, along the way to your big dreams you want to act as if you've already achieved the goals you've set for your gymnastics journey.
Think to yourself, what would a gymnast who has achieved these goals act like?
Would she enter the gym confidently with her chin and head held proud?
And would she communicate effectively with her coach?
Would she arrive to practice on time and push herself while she's there?
Find those qualities that make up the gymnast you want to be and embody them NOW even before you achieve your goals.
Achieving your big dreams in gymnastics is possible for you and any gymnast out there who uses her mindset to help her along the way. It's important to cast a vision of what a successful gymnastics journey would look and feel like to you.
You do this by thinking of your big picture goals and then creating a vision board to go along with those goals. You then spend time imagining yourself achieving those goals by engaging all of your senses and emotions. By "acting as if" you feel what it would be like to achieve your goals ahead of time.
Along the way you'll hit bumps so it's also important to know your WHY as well as be open to the possibility of your big dreams happening differently than you might imagine.
All of those things are how you cast your vision for your gymnastics journey.
Good luck! I'd love to see your gymnastics vision boards if you create one. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
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