Just as the New Year brings in a fresh chance to evaluate your previous calendar year and make tweaks to the upcoming year, so does the end of a gymnastics season.
Although you might be ready to move onto new skills and go train for a new level, it's incredibly important for you to reflect back on your entire competition season and look for lessons learned. These lessons can help you have a more successful season when next season comes.
I tell my gymnasts all the time to use each meet as a learning experience. What went well? What didn't go so well and why? What can you do to improve for next meet?
But it's equally important to do an overall reflection of your entire season and ask similar questions of your season as a whole. These questions will help to guide your next season and make that one even more successful.
Here are some reflection questions to ask yourself:
1. What went well for me this season?
Think back to your entire season from the beginning of pre-season training through the end of competition season. What are some things that went well for you? What are things that you will continue to use and do going into next season?
It's a good idea to remember all the things that ARE working so that you can keep using them for next season. But if you don't write them down and pinpoint what they are exactly, they won't be effective for you moving forward. Or at least you won't be able to access them as easily as if you had them as a reference! So list them out in your journal or a notebook.
When you evaluate what worked, remember to consider what worked not only as far as your gymnastics skills are concerned, but also when it comes to your mental well-being, social interactions, and communication with your coaches.
If you stayed mentally strong, ask yourself why.
If you had great relationships with your teammates, ask why.
Knowing why things went well is equally as important as know why they didn't.
2. What did not go well for me this season?
What are some things that weren't great this season? What would you like to improve on? Where can you make changes or tweaks to see improvement for next year?
While this can be a tough question to ask yourself, it's an important one. All failure or missed opportunities are chances to learn. It's also important to understand why things may not have gone so well.
If you were struggling with a mental block, why do you think that is? Did you experience a dip in confidence? If so, why?
When you keep asking yourself "why?" in response to your answer you can really find the root of the reason of whatever might be going on.
I struggled on beam this season.
Because I couldn't do my series.
Because I was scared.
Because I thought I might slip and fall on my second back handspring.
Because I was off center on my first back handspring once and I almost missed my hands on my second back handspring.
Because I rushed it.
Because we were out of time and were going to the next event and so I just threw it without focusing.
As you keep asking "why" you can really find the root of the issue. In the case of the imaginary gymnast above, the root of what happened is her rushing through a skill and as a result not being focused. This in turn caused an almost slip which shook her up and created a dip in her confidence.
This gymnast can learn to take her time and really focus before doing her series (or any skill) in the future. If she is out of time, she can learn to step away from the skill so she doesn't feel rushed.
This "work" of really digging into what is happening can open your mind to things you hadn't realized and give you opportunity to up level your gymnastics as a result.
3. Was I happy this season?
I think this is a powerful and important question for every gymnast to ask herself.
Was I happy?
The reason we do gymnastics is because we love it. And part of that is because doing flips and twists makes us happy.
But in the midst of competition season when the pressure is on, it's easy to forget why you do gymnastics. It might also be easy to forget to feel happy and enjoy what you're doing. This can be especially true if you're experiencing fear or a mental block in gymnastics.
So ask yourself "Was I happy this season?" and if the answer is no, ask yourself "Why?"
Maybe you were too focused on getting a certain score and got stressed out at every meet because you worried about not meeting that goal.
Or maybe you felt too much pressure to do well and felt the weight of that on your shoulders all season.
Whatever it is, if you weren't happy then things needs to change. But you first have to recognize if you were happy or not and why that was.
4. What do I need to work on?
After you figure out what wasn't working for you, you can then narrow in on areas you need to work on so you can make positive changes for next season.
Use the answers to the first three questions above to figure out what you need to focus on for this upcoming season.
If you dealt with mental blocks then building up confidence should be your goal for this upcoming season.
Or if you didn't compete well, learning how to create good pre-meet and competition routines to help you stay focused should be your focus.
Remember, if you continue to do the same thing each season without reflecting on what you've learned, you will never see the success you might hope for. Each season is a new opportunity to improve both your physical and mental skills. A end-of-season reflection is a great way to do 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