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For Coaches Back Handspring Hesitation

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MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
My dd, who is now 9 years old, learned her BHS about 2 years ago. She did fine the first year and then this last year she started having hesitation and fear issues. We had switched cheer gyms so I attributed some of it to new coaches and a new environment. She was doing them off and on all last year at cheer but nothing really consistent. Since May, we decided to do gymnastics instead, because she wanted to try something new and she was feeling rushed at cheer. Plus the coaches at cheer didn't seem like they were getting through to her or making any progress.

Since being at the gymnastics gym, she has improved considerably. Her coach is wonderful and very patient with her and my dd feels very confortable with her. Her coach says that she is perfectly capable of doing the skill, it is just her mind not leting her. She says that it is often very difficult to get kids to overcome their fear because the child has to believe they can do it. Some days she will do standing BHS's all by herself on a mat but still hesitates when she is spotted for the RO BHS. But I have noticed that the hesitation is definitely diminishing. Some days she has good days and some days are not as good.

Today was not a good day. She was very frustrated because she kept hesitating in the standing BHS even with a spot. She seems to have trouble with her "sit" and "arm swing". She ends up sitting too low and then loses her balance and falls on her butt. I can tell that when she does do a BHS, her arm swing is strong and she follows through. It's just that hesitation right before she throws her arms back that is messing her up.

Are there any drills that she can do at home that will help her, or is this just a mental/self confidence issue that she has to resolve on her own. Are their any confidence boosters that will help her overcome this? Should I even have her working on drills at home or just let it be and let her work on them at practices at the gym? I want to help her, but I don't want to put pressure on her either.

Please help--any advice would be appreciated.
 
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Gym-Nice-tics

Member
May 14, 2008
115
US
My guess is that she needs to control her thinking.

I just had a kid who stopped doing round off backhandspring back tucks last week- randomly. No fall or anything. She just wouldn't go. She told me she wasn't even all that scared. When she went, she just couldn't follow through.

So I took her back to the beginning. We started with round offs. We worked out a "key" word for her to say while she did the round off. I think it was fast. I made her say it out loud. Then we did the bhs. She would say out loud "fast" in the ro then "arms" as she did the bhs. We did that many times. Then we added the back tuck- "shins" that one took some spotting, but she did get it down and she was doing them again with in a half an hour.

I found that giving her specific key words to say took her mind off being nervous or scared of the tricks. She was physically telling her body what to do and not giving her mind a chance to think of anything else. Perhaps some mental training will help your daughter. Giving her code words of specific things to think about may take the hesitation away.
 

ACoach78

Coach
Coach
Feb 22, 2007
112
USA
The first thing you can do is not worry about it and tell her to not worry about it.

Anxiety is largely a result of losing the locus of control and much of this is due to the level of importance placed on the occurrence or event. If you place a lot of importance on this and she continues to place a lot of importance on this, then she'll continue to put pressure on herself and feel like this is some overwhelming task such that she'll essentially "shut down" subconsciously. (The subconscience "stuff" is my own interpretation...but, the control and importance aspects have been shown across sport psych research studies related to anxiety)

The way that I handle these situations is that I don't worry about them. I find a situation where the kid is comfortable and we do lots of repetitions and gradually progress. Along the way, I constantly re-assure the kid that they're fine and that they're going to get it and I show my confidence in them. It'll take a while, but most kids will come around over time. There are a few who will never overcome it.

The biggest thing is to de-emphasize the importance and to show your confidence and belief in them.

If you have her doing drills and things at home, then you're just showing her how important it is. Although you mean well, it's probably best just to leave it in her hands.

More than likely, being that she went to a cheer gym (where they rush and are 100% clueless of good technique), I imagine that she was taught crap (in my 11 years of coaching, I've yet to meet a cheer coach who had even a slight clue about good technique unless they were an ex-competitive gymnast who came from a good program) and strangely enough your body knows when it's not real safe or at least not fully in control and the "fight or flight" response kicks in and you're hesitant. So, in the gymnastics world that equates to "balking."

Good Luck.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
Thanks for the advice! She is doing really well on all the other events learning new skills and feeling really confident about them, so hopefully the confidence on these other events will carry over onto floor. I just feel so helpless when she gets frustrated. I guess this is just something that SHE has to work out with herself.
 
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gymnasticcoach

Guest
As a coach with 40 + yrs coaching exp. i would agree with the two other people who responded to you. If she is now comfortable with new coach new gym the skill will return.

Be there to support her, and be constantly positive.

Don
 
K

KBT

Guest
Depending on the kid and the mental block, I might also have them not work the skill much on bad days. A few balks and we're done. I don't want them "practicing" the bad stuff; may as well get our reps in on good days so there's only good muscle memory being created. Or I'll just have them work basics, like BHS on tumble trak or down a hill in this case.

Also for some kids "banning" them from doing a skill will make them mad, and then they'll go for it. For some kids this will not work at all so you have to be careful.
 
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