Athletes, Competition, Mental Training, Preparation, Training, Winning

Training Methods to Maximize Success: Preparing for the Big Moment

So you have a big event to prepare for and it is imparative that you are ready in every aspect for a successful outcome. How is this done? What are the best methods in preparing both physically and mentally? It is different for every individual so there is no specific training manual on how to accomplish this goal. Here we will discuss several methods of Preparing for the Big Moment. Since the methods vary and are personal to each individual, I will discuss the methods that worked best for me in my preparation for a Big Moment. (This is a snapshot of material on this subject)

Preparing for big events, such as national or world competitions, requires training that is both physical and mental. Both work hand-in-hand and must be synched perfectly for the ultimate positive result. We call this “Peaking”. The process may be long and take months in preparation. Although there are many methods used, there are particular steps that should be followed along the way.

Although it takes both physical and mental preparation (both are extremely important for success), the physical aspect usually is the first step in preparation (once a commitment has been made). An athelte must get in the best physical shape possible as they progress toward the goal. This takes time and requires a highly structured training schedule. As in all physical activities, training should be progressive. This means the athlete should start off slow and increase intensity as the body becomes stronger. In many cases, if the athlete initiates a training schedule aggressively, the potential for injury becomes greater.

In the initial training process, focus should be on gaining strength, endurance, and skill development. These elements are crucial as it is the foundation that will be built upon as training progresses. New skill development and training for perfection is a major part of the process. This is what the next stage is based on.

As initial training progresses and the athlete gets into optimal shape, the training regiment should change. It takes many hours of hard work to get the body in top physical condition. Once this is achieved, it should be maintained. Thus, training time and entensity may taper off. If the athlete “overtrains”, they could experience injury or burn-out before peak performance is achieved. Many athletes refer to this as “training smarter – not harder”.

The time at which this change in intensity takes place in training development is different for everyone. In many cases, the younger athlete may endure longer periods of intense training. Whereas, the older athlete may need to make this change earlier. It takes time and experience to get this time dynamic figured out. In my early years as an Elite athlete, I could train aggressively for long periods of time. However, as I became older (and more decrepit:) I needed to adjust my training schedule to lower the intensity much earlier so as to not increase risks of injury.

This is the stage in training where the mental and emotional aspects become a major focus. At this point, the body should be in great and optimal condition. Skills should be developed and closely (if not) perfected. Complete “routines” should be created at this point and trained mostly in entirety. This is the stage when consistency is created and consistency is developed through repetition.

As time gets closer to the Big Event, the athlete needs to gain complete confidence in their ability to succeed (the emotional factor). Maintaining success in every training session is critical. Meaning- every routine and performance in practice needs to be successful without fail. This will create a great deal of confidence. If there is consistant failure (missing routines), confidence will be weak and will most likely make for questionable results.

At this stage, mental preparations will naturaly occur. This includes mental performance even outside of the practice arena. We call this “Imagery”. Most athletes will emotionally perform their actions or routines in their minds as if actually doing the action physically. In initial Imagery practices, the thoughts may not always be positive. In many cases, the imagery has failure. This may be a result of a lack of confidence. However, as the athlete becomes more confident, the Imagery will be mostly positive and successful.

1984 USA Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Team

When both physical and mental abilities are at their most positive levels, the athlete is ready for the Big Event. Much time and effort has been put into this preparation and the outcome will hopefully be a successful outcome. We all learn by our mistakes, so if the result is not as positive as hoped for, adjustments will be made so the next Big Event will have a better chance at success. No matter what though, the athlete needs to Go For It!! Who knows, it could result in an Olympic Gold Medal!!

Scott Johnson
1984 Olympic Gold Medalist 1988 Olympic Team Captain

My Beginner Tumbling Training Guide is available 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://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0847D3VQC

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Athletes, Don't Give Up, Dreams, Mental Training, Motivation, Success

Achieving Success Has Many Challenges: Don’t Give Up!!

Have you ever experienced a situation where every effort has been made to accomplish something and it just doesn’t happen? Whether it be regarding yourself or a student your working with? This can be a very frustrating experience. So what should be done? Should the person simply give up? This should be the very last option to consider. If a person has a goal to accomplish- Do Not Give Up!!

When I was a competitive athlete, I had many goals that were important for me to accomplish if I was to make my dream come true and make the Olympic Team. As all athletes know, there are always obstacles to overcome in the pursuit of success. Many of these obstacles can be severe which may create huge swings in attitude and motivation.

These obstacles can come from anywhere and at anytime. One example may be an injury. Some injuries are serious enough that it may take months to recover. The most severe may actually end a career. However, the majority of injuries can be overcome and an athlete could rehab back to a normal and healthy status. However, it may take a lot of time and aggressive rehab to recover. This certainly is not easy. The serious athlete will not give up and do what is necessary to overcome this type of obstacle.

Another challenge many athletes have relates to progress in skill development. As skills become more advanced, athletes must spend more time in development. It may take months and in some cases years to develop particular skills. In many cases, athletes that struggle learning a particular skill may become frustrated and develop feelings of giving up on it. For skills that are required, this scenario may be the cause of an end to the career.

This is the main reason why we see such a drop in participation in the sport of gymnastics and other sports as the levels get higher. Skill development not only intensifies as skills become more difficult, but the emotional effects can be extreme. Many athletes struggle with the mental toughness needed to overcome fear factors involved with the higher level skills. There are many gymnasts who may struggle with learning and accomplishing the back walkover on the balance beam – to name just one example. However, through proper and progressive skill development through drill training, these fear factors may be overcome.

When an athlete is struggling with skill development or experiencing a sense of disappointment or failure, it is the position of the coaches, parents, and peers to help lift the person out of that train of thought. This is a common experience and effects most every athlete. It could be related to burn-out or some other factor as mentioned above. Regardless of the reason, every effort should be made to re-motivate the athlete so they can proceed to achieve their goals.

Scott Johnson – 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist

We, as coaches, will hear the words “I want to quit” or “I give up”. I have had these feeling several times throughout my career. If it wasn’t for the support of my coaches and peers, I may have done just that. However, I was able to overcome these emotions which allowed me to achieve the dreams and goals I had from early childhood. We need to support the attitude: Don’t Give Up!! It is amazing how this simple approach can motivate an athlete. This is how champions are created.

Scott Johnson

f you are interested in a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

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://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0847D3VQC

I recommend these wrist supports for pain relief and discomfort due to aggressive training. The neoprene material provides warmth and support with the obstruction of a buckle or thumb hole. It really works!!

The best leotards for recreational gymnastics!!

Cheerleading and Tumbling, Gymnastics, Mental Training, Preparation, Skill Development, Tumbling

Eliminating Fears in Young Students

When young children are learning something new, it is very common they may have some apprehension. In some cases, they may be terrified. This is a natural occurance and a situation that should be dealt with delicately.

Learning gymnastics and tumbling skills are certainly exciting for most students who participate. However, there are elements that can be scary, especially for young children. Many of the skills require the student to go upside down, and for some, this can be a very scary experience.

Even skills as basic as the forward and back roll can be challenging for some students. So how does a coach deal with these situations? There may be certain tools in the gym that can be used to help the student become more comfortable. These may include a wedge mat, panel mats, or other items that assist the athlete in motion. In addition, the coach should be active in spotting the student to help them with confidence and reduce the fear emotion.

Most importantly, the child should never be forced to do a skill they are terrified of performing. I have seen students who just cannot duck their head under for the forward roll or feel comfortable with flipping backward on a back roll. Since these are unnatural motions, some have developed such an extreme fear that it prevents them of accomplishing the skill – at least for an extended period of time.

Through consistent drill training, students usually gain the confidence needed to accomplish the desired skill. Drills as simple as the rock n’ roll and the ” donkey kicks” on floor help students in understanding tumbling motions. These baby steps are beneficial in development.

For the safety, enjoyment, and productive development of teaching gymnastics and tumbling skills, approach the training in a positive and stress free environment. You could be training a future champion!!

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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://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0847D3VQC

 

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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Coaching, Confidence, Losing, Mental Training, Skill Development, Uncategorized

Learning then Losing Skills – A Common Issue

It is so exciting to see students accomplish new skills. Skills that have been a focus for months or years and trained consistently. Then the moment comes when it is finally accomplished. Then, within a day or two, the skill is lost. How frustrating and depressing. Motivation is lost and the feeling of wanting to quit takes control.

This happens often, even with the most advanced athletes. Due to the high complexity of skills and the risk factors involved, it may take a long time to develop confidence in completing a skill. We have discussed the manner in which skills are learned safely and properly. This includes drill training and spotting on a consistent basis. Many times it is necessary to re-learn the skill from the beginning.  Through time, the athlete should gain the confidence needed to perform the skill.

However, if the athlete attempts to perform the skill when they’re not ready emotionally or physically, there could be an accident. This could erase any confidence gained and the skill lost. It may take awhile to get it back. For some, it may never come back (.  There are many circumstances that may cause an athlete to lose or struggle with confidence.  Some of these may be experiencing an accident or injury or watching someone else have an accident or injury.  In most cases, it is simply having negative thoughts of crashing and getting hurt.  The student may often say “I’m Scared”Confidence and the Mental Block .  The coach should always encourage in a positive manner and provide that needed support to reduce and eventually eliminate the fear factor.

This is Common!! Even at the highest levels of participation, athletes will have the same problem. Coaches and parents need to be supportive and encourage the student to keep at it and don’t give up. They will get it back but they need that positive support.

This is why we stress the importance of learning the basics and building a strong foundation Tumbling: Importance of Building a Strong Foundation.   It is the stepping stone of learning all skills and is needed in the event a student struggles with skill development.  Most all athletes will experience this issue of learning a skill and losing it.  Sometimes it is immediate and other times it just occurs after years of having a particular skill.  Taking that step back and resorting to the basics is a positive and necessary  procedure to fix this issue.

Remain positive and be encouraging is the key.  Coaches and parents should not treat this scenario in a negative manner.  The student will most likely be very upset and emotional over the loss of skills.  We need to pick them up and help them through the process and get them moving in a positive direction.

Athletes, Coaching, Confidence, Mental Training, Preparation, Safety, Skill Development

The True Asset in Skill Development: Building Confidence for New Skills

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One of the biggest challenges students have when learning new skills, is getting over fear and gaining confidence. It is amazing how emotions take control of an individual when the time comes to perform a skill without assistance. In many cases, it takes much longer to build the confidence needed to perform the skill than the physical effort required to complete the skill. This can be frustrating for both the student and the coach, but it needs to be understood and approached cautiously.

It is amazing to see how well a skill is performed while the coach is providing a spot, even the slightest spot. It is obvious the student can perform the skill but it doesn’t happen. Why? Because they are terrified!! Although this is frustrating, it is completely normal. In fact, it is not uncommon for students to take weeks or even months before they are emotionally ready to go solo on a skill.

The coach plays a major role in helping the athlete gain confidence. This is done primarily by spotting the skills (The Art of Spotting) as the athlete progresses through the stages of development. As the athlete gains better understanding and awareness if the skill, the coach can begin to lighten the spot.

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Although the objective is for the student to perform the skill without a spot, the coach needs to be aware of the emotions of the student. In many cases, when a student is attempting to do a skill without a spot for the first time, they are not thinking about how to do the skill, they are thinking about how bad it’s going to hurt when they crash. The coach should recognize the signs- if the student is stalling for a period of time, it is a good indication that they may not be ready. In this case, the coach should stand in to give emotional and physical support.

I have seen cases where students are forced to perform a skill without a spot, even if the student asks for one. This may be acceptable depending on the risk factor of the skill. For example, a front handspring has a much lower risk factor than a back handspring. If the risk factor of the skill is low, the student can be encouraged to “go for it”. If the student fails, there will likely be little physical or emotional consequences.

If the skill has a higher risk factor, however, the student may suffer an injury and possibly serious emotional consequences. The most sever is the “Mental Block”. When this occurs, it is a huge step back in progressive development.

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It is our job as coaches to assist the athlete to grow in a positive direction. Every athlete is different both physically and emotionally. Some will have a low fear factor and others will have a much higher fear factor. This is why many students learn skills quicker than others. Patience is important and coaches need to work with the student to help build confidence. What’s even more important, is Safety. A coach should never put a student in a position where they are not comfortable or emotionally ready to perform a skill.  Let’s keep them safe, happy, and moving forward in a positive direction.

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I am in the process of developing manuals and videos on tumbling skill development that will be useful in training. I will keep you posted on that progress. In addition, if you would like a personal training session or consultation with me, we can Skype a lesson. Private message me or email me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com