For many years I've been the mental game coach
to a great number of gymnasts at the youth level, and with high
school and collegiate gymnasts. I have the greatest respect for
gymnasts, on a number of levels. They need to have very strong mental
toughness to cope with the dangers of the sport. The chance of injury
is always present. They also often need to train and compete with
pain and discomfort, and that takes special self-discipline.
How does this apply to you in your gymnastics? Do you have the level
of mental toughness you want? Are you a fast learner? Do you learn
the moves you need, in the time frames you want? Do you have solid
communication with your coach so you can learn well?
Here are four simple mental strategies you can use to improve all
- Recognize That You Are A Special Athlete: As I said,
I have huge respect for gymnasts. How about you? Do you think
what you do is special? Do you know how many people would like
to be you, and be able to do what you do? You have guts and courage
to get into the gym every day and throw your body around like
you do. Most people would never have the nerve to do any of that.
So now you know, you ARE special.
- Master Moves In Your Mind Before You Do Them: It has
been said that to execute something you must first believe you
can do it. Part of that belief comes from your ability to visualize
the move. Close your eyes and imagine you are about to perform
a move that has been bugging you. Imagine how you would feel if
you really stick this move. Now take yourself through that move
until you can see yourself succeeding. This is the art of visualization.
See itbelieve itdo it!
- Stop Telling Yourself That You Can't Do A Move: Every
time you think or say "I can't" you are pulling down your
self-confidence a notch. Stop using the "can't word". Forever.
Instead, say, "Let me see what I can do with this. If I keep
at it, I bet I can master this." And then keep trying until
you DO master it. Be a possibility thinker. Can't is about impossibilities.
- Help Your Coach Speak Better, So You Get Better Coaching:
In a perfect world every coach would be a first-class communicator.
If your coach does not coach you enough, or gives you limited
feedback, or gives you feedback you don't want, you need to take
charge. You need to diplomatically and calmly ask your coach for
what you need. Be specific. Ask things like, "Was that last
move too slow, too fast, or just right, Coach?", or "You
said you did not like my last move there. What did you not like
about it specifically?" Do this and you will be shaping your
coach's communication abilities to match what you are seeking.
Now you can say you know more about the mental game of gymnastics,
and of how to manage your own mind. Now you also hopefully appreciate
yourself more as being a tough athlete in a tough sport. You also
know about how to be more positive and to visualize success. Finally,
you know how to coach your coach! Good luck!
For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an
assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths
and weaknesses. Here is a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport
psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot.
This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and
weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating
your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program
you undertake with mental coach
Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment
would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture
about your mental game.
Copyright © 2014 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance,
mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William
B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals
achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing
the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching
worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles,
and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time
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