Do you over-think everything in gymnastics?

Are you constantly in your head, either over-analyzing or always doubting yourself?

If so, you're not alone! 


How to stop over-thinking in gymnastics


Gymnastics is a sport that requires an unusual amount of mental toughness to be successful. In addition, gymnasts tend to be perfectionists and as such, tend to over-analyze and over-think everything!

In gymnastics, flow is very important. Flow is the ability to allow your mind to turn off and your body to do its thing. It's this feeling of being "in the zone." That's where your mind is light and free, meaning there are no heavy thoughts weighing you down. You don't have to think. Instead, your body just goes through the motions effortlessly.

Unfortunately, flow is directly impeded by over-thinking. When gymnasts get in their heads, their bodies tense up. And as a result, their minds tense up and go into hyper thoughts. They often lose focus and can "choke" or underperform. In a sport like gymnastics, this is not only dangerous but it can lead to deductions and falls which can undermine a gymnast's abilities.

Research has shown time and time again that athletes (gymnasts especially) perform better when they are happy and their mind is "free." So it is important for gymnasts to work towards that happy place where heavy thoughts are not weighing them down and they can feel in the flow.

The question is: If you're an over-thinker in gymnastics, how can you stop yourself from over-thinking so much?

While it takes work, the good news is there are some things you can do to help yourself move from over-thinking to just DOING.


Here are some tips to stop over-thinking in gymnastics:

1. Get Back In Your Body

When you are over-thinking in gymnastics, it means you're too "in your head." Your thoughts are taking over, you're over-analyzing, and your mind is going on full speed.

To counteract that, you must get yourself back into your body. This entails physical actions or movements such as shaking out your muscles, taking deep breaths, sprinting or jogging, doing drills, gently slapping your muscles or massaging them out, taking a drink of water, taking a bathroom break, or eating a snack. 

Your goal is to find something to do that brings your energy towards a physical action. This forces your mind to take a step back and can help you get out of your head.

Therefore, any time you are feeling "stuck" in your thoughts, do something physical to snap yourself out of those thoughts.


2. Listen To Happy or Mood-Boosting Music

Music can have a powerful effect on the mind. Listening to happy or mood-boosting music can get you out of your thoughts and into a good feeling mood. Find songs that are catchy, upbeat, or just make you smile when you listen to them.

You should create a playlist of these upbeat songs specifically for the times when you need to get away from over-thinking and into a lighter mood. A playlist like this can be especially helpful before a big meet when you are dealing with nerves in gymnastics.

Here are some suggestions for songs that can lighten the mood and get you away from your heavy thoughts:

Happy by Pharrell Williams

Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco

Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake

Walking On Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves

Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cindi Lauper

Shut Up & Dance by Walk The Moon

Those are just some to get you started. A song is considered a mood booster if it feels good and happy to YOU. Share some other songs in the comments below that you like to listen to when you need a mood booster!


3. Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation To Relax Tension In Your Body

When your body is tense, your mind gets tense too. And that's often when we start to overthink or doubt ourselves. A great strategy to release tense muscles is to do progressive muscle relaxation.

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you tighten up a muscle group for a short period of time and then actively release the muscles afterwards. 

For example, it would look like this - Clench your fists for 4-5 seconds as hard as you can (without hurting yourself); Take a big inhale and then as you exhale, let all your muscle tension go.

You can repeat that step over and over as you scan your body to locate areas of tension. The more you can release that tension, the more at ease your mind will feel which will stop it from doing so much over-thinking.


4. Smile!

When you smile (and laugh) your brain releases endorphins which are tiny chemicals in your body that make you feel good. The more endorphins you have pumping through your brain, the less you will be stuck with heavy thoughts. 

Any time you find yourself overthinking or stressed, just try smiling and see what happens. You'll notice that almost immediately you'll start to feel lighter and lighter.

Again, the happier and more free you feel, the easier it is to get out of your thoughts. 


5. Imagine Yourself In Your "Happy Place"

For me, my happy place is the beach. If that doesn't apply to you then think of a place that makes you feel free and light and happy anytime you're there.

If you're a beach person too, think about how carefree and at ease the beach makes you feel. Imagine yourself at your favorite beach. Think of how happy you are to be there. Think about how peaceful the sounds are and how good it feels to soak up the sun and the breeze. Maybe the water feels refreshing if it's hot outside. Maybe you're watching dolphins pop up and down in the distance.

Now transfer those happy place thoughts into the gym. When you're stuck in your head, immediately transport yourself to your happy place and remember those same feelings. Try to say the same thoughts you'd have if you were in your happy place while you're in the gym. You can say things like "I love this place" and "I never want to leave." Those thoughts will elicit those feel-good chemicals which will help ease your mind!

The more you can elicit those good feelings, the less your brain will have to keep chugging along with its heavy thoughts.


Those were just a few things you can do to help yourself stop overthinking everything in gymnastics. Remember, the goal is to be in a place where you are in a flow and can trust yourself to just do your thing. This takes time and practice but in the meantime, keep trying out these 5 tips for getting yourself into lighter thoughts and out of that over-thinking gymnast brain!



If you or your gymnast needs support, in addition to the resources below I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.


Gymnastics Mental Blocks Guidebook for Parents


Helpful Links:



Gymnastics Mental Coach Anna Kojac, M.Ed.



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