As gymnasts start putting together routines and fine-tuning their choreography for this upcoming meet season, you can start to feel the tension in the gym.
Coaches are saying a pray that their gymnasts are prepared and ready to compete. Gymnasts are feeling the stress of wanting to do well this season. Inevitably, the climate in the gym is starting to feel turbulent.
Some gymnasts go into a new meet season hoping they've done enough in the off-season to be successful in competition.
But very few gymnasts go into a new meet season with a strong plan for how to feel prepared and ready to shine.
Here are some 3 tips for how your gymnast can prepare for a successful gymnastics meet season ahead:
1. Create mental choreography NOW.
One thing I coach my gymnasts on is having a mental routine of words/sounds they think throughout all of their routines. This is often called mental choreography because it is a choreographed set of mental cues that will keep your gymnast focused throughout her routine.
While many gymnasts do have words they think about during their routines, often they don't start practicing their mental choreography until meet season is upon them. But it's best to practice these mental cues right NOW before meet season has even started.
The goal is for your gymnast to know these cues inside and out so that when she does compete, she doesn't have to put in any extra mental effort to recall her words. They will come naturally to her because she's been practicing them for months. So if your gymnast hasn't done this yet, encourage her to start now.
2. Don't skip the dance!
As gymnasts, it's common to get hyper focused on being able to do all of your big skills. The tumbling passes, series on beam, release moves and dismounts on bars, and well...vault. But the majority of deductions are taken on the smaller dance elements such as leaps and turns. And unfortunately most gymnasts spend much less time on these elements.
The good news about leaps, turns, and dance is that your gymnast can practice these things at home. Often there's little time in practice to really perfect these dance elements but your gymnast can make a plan to do a certain number of leaps and turns each day at home. She can also practice her dance choreography in front of a mirror at home to see where she can make small adjustments such as lifting her chin or rolling her shoulders back or even smiling!
Just remember - leaps, turns, and dance are equally important to your gymnast's routines and she should be spending enough time on them to prepare for a successful gymnastics meet season.
3. Work extra hard on your weakest events.
It's common for gymnasts (and all athletes) to train their strengths while avoiding their weaknesses. This might look like your gymnast working to perfect a tumbling pass she likes while avoiding the one she's struggling on.
While you would think we would all focus on building up our weaknesses, it is human nature to avoid them. And that spells disaster in gymnastics.
Encourage your gymnast to spend as much time, if not more, on skills she isn't as good at. This might also refer to the dance elements (as mentioned above) or her form. If it helps, she can create a tracking sheet with process goals (little things she can do each practice) that can help her stay focused and celebrate her little victories along the way. That can make working on weaknesses just a tiny bit more fun.
Over the next two months in the Stick It Girl Academy I will be working with the gymnasts to create a plan to get prepared to compete well including mental choreography, handling pressure, and overcoming nerves. If your gymnast isn't a member of the Academy, it's time to sign her up. We meet weekly LIVE on Sundays at 7pm EST. Let's get your gymnast set up for a great meet season ahead!
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