Athletes, Confidence, Mental Block, Safety, Skill Development, Uncategorized

The Mental Block Nightmare

There are times in an athletes career where they may experience a Mental Block that prevents them from moving forward in a positive direction. No matter what the sport may be, Mental Blocks can occur without notice or incident. In most cases, however, the block is due to a negative experience that occurred in the athletes life. When these blocks occur, it can be very difficult to overcome. So, can Mental Blocks be prevented? The answer is “Yes”!! How? through Prevention!!

Gymnastics and tumbling skills entail very complex body movements that require consistent training to achieve. As the skills become more difficult so does the time it takes to achieve them. In addition, the risk factors begin to come into play. This is the most common reason that Mental Blocks occur. Students often become “scared” when they are introduced to new skills, especially if there is a higher risk factor.

If a student is introduced to new skills through consistent drill training, it will create a better understanding of the skill in a non-threatening way. In addition, and most important, the student should have mastered all prerequisite skills before being introduced to more difficult skills. For example, we would not introduce a student to a back handspring before they learn a bridge kick-over and back limber. These prerequisite skills teach the student the feeling of flipping backwards.

Many times, the Mental Block is created when a student experiences an accident while training skills. This can happen to even the most experienced athletes. Accidents happen, but many can be prevented through proper training practices. Spotting is a critical method in preventing accidents and helping the athlete gain confidence in skill training https://scottjohnsonsgymexperience.com/2018/04/10/the-art-of-spotting/ . If a student is forced or attempts to perform a skill they are not completely ready for (both physically /or emotionally), an accident is much more likely to occur.

Following a progressive training program can certainly reduce the risks of mental blocks. Having a strong foundation of basic elements is important for the athlete to progress comfortably to more difficult skills. In addition, training should remain as consistent as possible. If a student takes an extended break from training, they may develop some apprehension in getting their skills back. Especially if the student has had an aggressive growth spurt while taking that break. As the body grows, everything changes: height, weight, center of gravity, all of which are important factors in skill development.

If a student gets a mental block on a particular skill, it is important for the coaches to be patient and work towards eliminating the block. One way is to reteach the skill from the beginning. Using drills and spotting helps the athlete to regain their confidence. What should not be done is to force the student to attempt performing the skill. This will most likely intensify the block. I have seen many athletes quit the sport due to blocks that couldn’t be overcome. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Mental Blocks are common and they certainly interrupt growth in an athlete. We need to do our best to “prevent” the blocks from happening. If the proper training progressions are followed, it will highly reduce the probability of a block from occuring.

My new Beginner Tumbling Training Guide is published and ready for all to use. This is a great training aid for any and all programs who offer tumbling training. If you would like to order your copy, follow this link: http://scottsgoldmedal.com

In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

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