Did you know that having gratitude can actually help you perform better in gymnastics?
This blog contains a free printable.
November is almost here which means Thanksgiving season (in the U.S.) is upon us.
Around this time of year there is this collective consciousness to turn to gratitude.
As a society we become more mindful of things we are thankful for and take time to reflect on these things more often that we would normally do otherwise.
While this is a wonderful concept, unfortunately this feeling of gratitude and thankfulness often gets overlooked during the other 11 months of the year!
And yet, research has shown that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is beneficial for a multitude of reasons (which I'll discuss later).
So why not cultivate this attitude of gratitude ALL year long and more importantly, teach your gymnast to have what I call a "Gym-Attitude of Gratitude" as part of her mental toolkit.
What is a Gym-Attitude of Gratitude in Gymnastics?
A Gym-Attitude of Gratitude is:
-the feeling of finding the positive in every gymnastics experience.
-the feeling of releasing negative tension and fear in favor of confidence and courage.
-the feeling of belief in her abilities and acknowledgement that her gymnastics journey is unique and unlike anyone else's.
-the feeling of acceptance of her teammates and gym family despite their differences in skill level, personality, and communication-style.
-the feeling of being hopeful for the future and looking forward to what lies ahead.
In a nutshell, a Gym-Attitude of Gratitude is actively looking for reasons to be thankful in every gymnastics situation.
So How Does a Gym-Attitude of Gratitude Help your Gymnast?
First, gratitude has scientifically been proven to increase self-esteem, resilience and optimism. These are three qualities that ALL gymnasts need and can benefit from.
While a more broad concept and not specifically tied into her gymnastics performance, self-esteem is an important foundational trait that will impact the way a gymnast interacts with others and herself in different situations in the gym.
Girls with higher self-esteem are more likely to take risks, try new things, and be willing to fail.
Girls with lower self-esteem, on the other hand, do the opposite - they run from fearful experiences, are afraid to fail, and stick to their comfort zone.
You can see how this trait alone can have a significant impact on a gymnast's ability to learn new skills and become a better gymnast.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back when things go wrong or when they become hard.
We know that gymnastics is inherently hard due to the nature of flinging one's body in many different directions on different apparatuses in a matter of seconds (all while trying to land on your feet!).
Learning new skills is often frustrating and challenging to say the least.
A gymnast can get stuck on a mental block and feel defeated over and over and over.
Therefore resilience, or this ability to overcome these challenges, is a necessary trait in gymnastics. And having an attitude of gratitude can increase this skill set.
Finally, optimism is having hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
Just like resilience, optimism is a skill that can help a gymnast keep going through the hard times.
If she believes that things are going to get better or that there is a positive outcome waiting for her on the other side of "hard" then she will keep training and giving her all.
If she doesn't, then she is most likely going to give up.
You can see, then, why practicing gratitude is something that should not only be reserved for November and the holiday season, but fostered as much and as often as possible in gymnastics mental training.
What Can You Do To Foster a Gym-Attitude of Gratitude in Your Gymnast?
There are a number of ways we can teach gymnasts to have a gym-attitude of gratitude. Here are 5 of them I've come up with (I have a FREE Download to go with each of these things - be sure to snag it HERE or by clicking on the images below):
1. Fill In A Gratitude Log After Every Practice
I created a simple worksheet that your gymnast can fill in after each practice where she lists 3 things she is grateful for in gymnastics that day.
This is a great exercise for her to do at the end of the night before she goes to sleep because she can reflect on practice and think of things she is grateful for that happened during that session.
*To create a Gratitude Book you can print out multiple copies of this worksheet and have them bound together in one place so she can look through all of her answers throughout the year.
2. Fill Out The "List 10 Things I'm Grateful For In The Gym" Worksheet
Have your gymnast fill out this list and then have her put it in her gym bag for safe (semi-safe) keeping.
Remind her to look at this before every practice, maybe even in the car on the way to gym. This will start priming her mindset and get her in a positive mental frame of mind for practice. Remember, the more grateful she is feeling, the happier she will be which will translate into a better experience for her at practice.
3. Fill Out The "3 Gymnastics Skills I'm Grateful I Can Do" Worksheet
Just like the "10 Things" worksheet, this worksheet has your gymnast focus specifically on 3 skills she is grateful that she knows how to do.
Again, this is a great worksheet for her to fill in and keep in her gym bag to look at before every practice. When your gymnast continues to focus on all the things she CAN do and is grateful for them, she will continue to attract happier thoughts to herself which will in turn help her learn more skills. It is truly a trickle down effect.
As she learns new skills she can print out a new one of these worksheets and change her answers. Imagine how many skills she'll be grateful she can do by the end of the season!
4. Have Your Gymnast Write a Letter of Gratitude To Her Coach
I've included a worksheet where your gymnast can write a letter of gratitude to her coach. It's important that she takes time to recognize her coach and find feelings of gratitude towards her/him because her coach is a huge part of her gymnastics life.
This is especially important if your gymnast has had some negative experiences with her coach in the past or has a tumultuous coach-athlete relationship.
This letter of gratitude to her coach is actually a beautiful gesture that your gymnast can do at any time of year and give to her coach. Your gymnast's coach will appreciate this gesture so much because we know how hard working and often under-appreciated coaches are.
5. After a "Bad" Gym Day, Have Your Gymnast Fill Out The "Turning Negatives Into Positives" Worksheet
It's also important for your gymnast to have gratitude not only in the good times but also in the challenging ones.
Focusing on the good that comes out of a rough time is one of the best ways to utilize gratitude.
When your gymnast comes home from practice after a rough day or is frustrated because she can't get a skill, this is the perfect time to have her fill in this worksheet.
Just the simple shift of taking a negative experience and turning it into a positive experience will help her build up her positive mindset skill set.
These are 5 ways to help your gymnast foster a gym-attitude of gratitude.
Remember, the more gratitude your gymnast has towards gymnastics, the more positive experiences she will have in the gym.
The happier and more positive a gymnast is, the more likely she is to learn and execute her skills better.
She'll also have another mental skillset to add to her mental toolbox.
Be sure to download these gratitude pages and have your gymnast fill them out. Let me know what you think in the comments 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