I'll give you some tips for how to help your gymnast get her confidence back after a long break away from the gym.
When a gymnast returns to the gym after a long hiatus, she will probably be anxious to get back into the gym. Her first few days back might be really exciting for her.
But then maybe she'll begin to realize that things are not the same as before she left.
If she's coming back after a global pandemic, she might have to get used to new rules in the gym like having to bringing her own chalk and no parents allowed in the gym. As consistent and effective as zoom gym workouts might have been during the quarantine, they were no substitute for doing actual gymnastics in a gym.
Her body also has to get used to doing gymnastics again after a long hiatus away from the gym.
Not only might her endurance be less, she might also be experiencing fears that she didn’t have before - namely mental blocks and loss of confidence for skills she could previously do.
The high beam might seem higher than it was before she left.
Doing backwards skills might feel scary to her.
Running at full speed up to the vault might seem frightening.
Her flow and rhythm might be off which might be throwing her for a loop and making even the simplest skills seem hard.
So what can you do as a parent of a gymnast to help your gymnast transition back into the gym successfully despite being away from gymnastics for weeks or months at a time?
Below I’ve outlined 5 tips for how to help your gymnast get her confidence back after a long break away from the gym:
Tip 1: Acknowledge your gymnast’s fears instead of side-stepping them.
So many parents get nervous labeling or bringing light to a problem, but when it comes to overcoming fears and lack of confidence in gymnastics it is better to acknowledge the problem than to ignore it.
As a parent you can have a conversation with your gymnast about how things might be feeling different to her. Acknowledge that certain skills might feel scary and take time to get used to again.
When you reassure her that what she is going through is a natural process of being away from the gym for many months, you take some of the burden off of her and allow her to relax a little more, thereby making her transition back to the gym much easier.
Tip 2: Keep your expectations low for your gymnast.
It’s important that your gymnast does not feel extra pressure from you for to be as good as she was before she stopped doing gymnastics.
Of course, as a parent your job is to see the best in your gymnast and to help her reach her highest potential.
But in a case like this it is best to keep your expectations low for her and to let her know that you don’t expect her to be at her top level as she re-enters the gym.
Avoid asking her every little detail about her practices.
Don't ask her if she was able to do a skill that she was having trouble on.
And if she seems bummed out after practice, acknowledge her feelings but without the expectations.
Tip 3: Help your gymnast set mini goals for the next few weeks.
Your gymnast is feeling off and that’s disheartening. But the good news is that all it takes is a little time for her to get back into her game.
One way to give her the motivation to get there is to help her set mini goals for her practices over the next few weeks until things feel “normal” again.
Think of fun little challenges she can work on that have nothing to do with the fears she's having.
Maybe you encourage her to do one extra conditioning exercise in practice.
Or maybe you encourage her to see how many landings she can stick.
Make it fun. Make it a game. Take the pressure off and find little things she can focus on that take her mind off her low confidence.
You can even create a little goal chart for her and put stickers or check marks on the goal chart as she completes each goal. When her chart is completely filled in, you can reward her with something comforting such as a girls’ night alone with mom or extra snuggle/reading time with a parent.
The point is to give her something to focus on each practice that can help her stay mentally focused on gymnastics without being overwhelmed by the climate in the gym.
Tip 4: Encourage your gymnast to say her positive affirmations daily.
If your gymnast hasn’t been using positive affirmations, then it’s time you introduce them to her. Studies have long shown the benefits of daily affirmations in helping people gain confidence.
Sit down with your gymnast and come up with some positive affirmations that she can write down in a spare notebook. Or type up and print out affirmations that she can hang around her bedroom. We've got some great digital ones for sale in the Stick It Girl Boutique as you can see below.
We also have some Stick It Girl Quote Cards below that you can download for free.
Then ask her daily if she's read her affirmations. You can even laminate them and create a little book for her to stick in her gym bag that she can read to and from practice. Positive thinking is a skill that takes time to develop but is worth making the effort to improve.
Tip 5: Remind Her That This Too Shall Pass!
It's easy to get stuck in a moment and to feel this sort of "all or nothing" mentality.
Your gymnast might have feelings of never being able to do the skills she once did before her break or she might just be feeling like this will last forever.
Remind her that, while this might feel tough in the moment, it will pass and she will overcome this situation eventually.
Help her find some positives that she is already experiencing being back in the gym, such as being able to see her friends again and feeling stronger than she was feeling in the past few months. And then say to her "This Too Shall Pass!"
The coronavirus quarantine made life challenging for all of the world but especially for those athletes who were used to training weekly. As things start to return to "normal" there will be adjustments that need to be made. But eventually your gymnast will get back into a groove and her confidence and skills will come back.
This is also true when a gymnast is forced to be away from the gym, whether it's for family situations, injuries, or anything else that takes her away from her typical training schedule.
As a parent, your job is to support your gymnast through this tough transition back into the gym by acknowledging her fears, not putting extra expectations on her, helping her set mini goals that she can accomplish weekly to help build up her confidence, remind her to read her daily affirmations, and above all, remind her that this too shall pass! Good luck gym parent! You got this!
Resources For Helping Your Gymnast Gain Confidence After Returning To The Gym After A Break
Check out my 31 Day Confidence For Gymnasts Course in the Gymnastics Mental Training Academy
Download Stick It Girl's Book of Proof printable where your gymnast can write down all the skills she can do to help build up her confidence.
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