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Back tumbling fear issues...help please.

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shadow

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i have a level 7 gymnast that is VERY afraid of going backwards. This is her second year at level 7 and last season went fine. Something happened at the beginning this summer and now she is afraid to tumble backwards, anything backwards on the beam and will not do a flyaway. Is there anything i can do to make her fears go away or can i substitute the backward requirement skills with forward ones? This has never happened before in our gym and we dont really know what to do
 
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gym law mom

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I know there are some parents and coaches on this board that are working through this. Could you change your title to back tumbling fear? Bet you'll get lots of help.
 

Coacharella

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What happened at the beginning of the summer? An actual incident/fall? Or...just randomly out of nowehre she developed the fear?
 

shadow

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she just randomly delevoped the fear. There was one recent incident where she freaked on a back handspring and i think that took it even further
 

cftmoonlight

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There is no one way to do it. Some get through it and some never do. Find what works for her, such as spotting, pits etc. Go back to where its easy, progress slowly and be patient. Good luck, this backwards fear happens more than you would think.
 

Flippers Mom

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Flipper went through this at the beginning of Level 7. She simply quit tumbling backwards - but could still do her back handspring on the beam. Go figure. Once the fear set in, it got worse over a couple of months. Her coaches were frustrated, but not nearly as frustrated as Flipper. We never knew what triggerd the fear - she didn't have a specific event where she was hurt or saw someone get injured.

Here's what worked for her. First, the coaches worked hard to not show their frustration because that just made her cry and become even more discouraged. They took her back to learning a back walkover - with 2 hand spot, then with a one hand spot, then just a finger, etc. Then they worked up to a back handspring with 2 hand spot, then one hand spot, etc. Next was the back tuck, then the back layout following the same pattern. Flipper next told the coach she could take one step back, then stand a couple of feet away, then at the edge of the floor - just worked her way up as she would have when she first learned the skills (except this time, it took a lot more time and spotting).

All this took about 4-5 months. She has said (and I agree) that if the coaches had pressured her or forced the subject, she would have quit. Even she could tell you that the problem was in her head because she knew her body could perform the skills, but that didn't change the fact that mind wouldn't let her do them. She has been tumbling again for well over a year without further issues beyond normal stuff. You can overcome the fear, but it takes persistence and patience.
 
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dunno

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it's vestibular.
 

gymjourneymom

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it's vestibular.

Dunno I know you've referred to this term before. Would you please explain it in more detail? Does "vestibular" mean it is a change they are going through such as growth spurt throwing off their balance? If so, will they eventually adjust to it over time? Or is it an ear/sinus infection effecting their balance? Would someone with permenant hearing loss be more prone to issues with going backwards? I know there are high level gymnast who are deaf. But I'm beginning to think that my DD's hearing loss(which I know can also effect balance) may be more of her problem. Maybe it's not only "fear" or "mental blocks" in my DD's case?

I have a lot of respect for your posts & I'm very interested in hearing you discuss this in greater detail. Thanks!
 

shadow

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Here's what worked for her. First, the coaches worked hard to not show their frustration because that just made her cry and become even more discouraged. They took her back to learning a back walkover - with 2 hand spot, then with a one hand spot, then just a finger, etc. Then they worked up to a back handspring with 2 hand spot, then one hand spot, etc. Next was the back tuck, then the back layout following the same pattern. Flipper next told the coach she could take one step back, then stand a couple of feet away, then at the edge of the floor - just worked her way up as she would have when she first learned the skills (except this time, it took a lot more time and spotting).
We have tried to spot but she absolutely refuses. She will not tumble if someone is watching or if there is a spot. there are times when she does let us spot but she still wont flip. i asked her yesterday what she was afraid of when shes does go backwards and she said that she doesn't know. i have talked to her about going forwards and she doesn't have a problem with that. she front tumbles just fine. can i substitute forward tumbling passes in stead of back passes on floor? This will be just for this season, until we have some time to break things down.
 

MdGymMom01

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Shadow--your situation sounds exactly like my dd's. She has had a back tumbling block for going on three years now. The block started when she was about 8 years old and we switched cheer gyms. Added pressure from teammates and coaches definitely had an impact on her fear. When she left cheer to go to gymnastics, she slowly got more confident and was able to do BHS on a tramp, tumble track or into the pit. But to this day she is still afraid to do it on the floor.

Her coach works with her at every practice, breaking down the skill into smaller parts that she can successfully do on her own. My dd felt safe throwing her BHS into the pit so she was allowed to do that untill she felt more confident. Then they would slowly add a crash mat into the pit and she would do the BHS on them. She gradually was able to do RO's on the floor and then throw the BHS into the pit onto a harder mat. For my dd, her fear is putting her hands down on a hard surface of the floor when tumbling backwards. For some reason, having a mat in the pit is "safe" for her because there is the foam underneath it, but she is still putting her hands down on a "harder" surface. She front tumbles beautifully and has no fear with that.

With your gymnast, you may have to go back to the basics. Have her do jump backs onto stacked mats, to get the form down. If your gym has a pit, have her do them into the pit. The key is repetition but also her having SUCCESSFUL attempts of the drill or part of the skill. Fears can be so random but also so deep rooted. It is very frustrating, I know. Good luck, and patience is definitely key with these fear issues.
 
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Tumblequeensmom

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My DD developed the same fear at the beginning of her L7 season... it got so bad at her gym b/c the coaches would throw her off in a corner, so the fear just kept mounting. She finally decided to quit. So we joined another gym that had a great prep op. program and she was allowed to move at her own pace. She did get her back tumbling series back last spring, worked it all summer and then just balked on it in August... couldn't do it. So her coach at her new gym is allowing her to do a front handspring stepout, roundoff, LO for her tumbling series. It's funny, for her, it has to do w/connecting the running roundoff to a backhandspring. She can do a great STANDING roundoff into a BHS Bt or Layout... but can't put it together with the running... go figure. I've given up trying to figure it out!
 

MdGymMom01

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TQM--this sounds like my dd as well. For some reason, a lot of kids are afraid of the POWER and SPEED that the running ROBHS produces. I have heard this is actually quite common, especially in the cheerleading world where they learn both standing tumbling vs. running tumbling. A lot of kids have trouble with the running tumbling. They can throw a standing back full or a standing BHS Full like it is nothing, but try to do a running ROBHS, and they balk. Definitely strange to see.
 
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shadow

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thanks everyone for your suggestions. i really hope that they help. i just feel really bad because we are in the middle of a season and she is disappointed when she goes to a meet.
 

dunno

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Dunno I know you've referred to this term before. Would you please explain it in more detail? Does "vestibular" mean it is a change they are going through such as growth spurt throwing off their balance? If so, will they eventually adjust to it over time? Or is it an ear/sinus infection effecting their balance? Would someone with permenant hearing loss be more prone to issues with going backwards? I know there are high level gymnast who are deaf. But I'm beginning to think that my DD's hearing loss(which I know can also effect balance) may be more of her problem. Maybe it's not only "fear" or "mental blocks" in my DD's case?

I have a lot of respect for your posts & I'm very interested in hearing you discuss this in greater detail. Thanks!
The vestibular system, which contributes to our balance and our sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides the dominant input about movement and equilibrioception. Together with the cochlea, a part of the auditory system, it constitutes the labyrinth of the inner ear, situated in the vestibulum in the inner ear (Figure 1). As our movements consist of rotations and translations, the vestibular system comprises two components: the semicircular canal system, which indicate rotational movements; and the otoliths, which indicate linear accelerations. The vestibular system sends signals primarily to the neural structures that control our eye movements, and to the muscles that keep us upright. The projections to the former provide the anatomical basis of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, which is required for clear vision; and the projections to the muscles that control our posture are necessary to keep us upright.

i took this from a med site with the simplest explanation. this is our system of all things balance. the 2 important components are those that measure "rotational movements" & "linear accelerations" and as they relate to signals that are sent to neural structures that control our eye movements.

a couple of examples: a dad runs fast down the grocery aisle with their child in the cart facing forward. You've all seen this. the child usually screams, squeals and laughs from the "linear" (horizontal) speed that the child's vestibular system measures and sends to the eyes.

now turn the child facing the dad and do the same thing. you've all seen this also but may have never wondered why facing backward does not illicit the same response. in this instance, the child's vestibular system can not measure linear speed forward, hence no response as in the 1st example.

yet in either example you could find the child screaming in fear or screaming in joy and laughter no matter which direction you place the child in the cart.

next: Nasa and Air Force pilot schools. pilots flunk out regularly. when they achieve certain speeds they pass out. for some it is when they reach certain speeds coupled with "rolling". pilots have to be able to do both without passing out. some peoples vestibular systems can not handle the vestibular systems sensory input of over stimulation.

next: the old 'back seat driver' syndrome. you are driving the car @ 55 mph. your passenger says to slow down "your going to fast!" yet another passenger says "geez...ya think you can get us to the church on time? yer drivin like a granny!" and no offense to grannies.:) but when the passenger takes over the driving, they may well speed up or slow down compared to what the 1st driver did. this is all because of one's vestibular system. and whether they held the steering wheel (proprioception or 'feel' of the wheel) or not. depending where you sit (optic sensory system connected to the vestibular system) or not.

next: the roller coaster. some people get dizzy, throw up and pee themselves. others whoop and holler and can't wait to do it again. the blame falls squarely on one's vestibular system.

these are things that people just take for granted. but how does it translate to diving and gymnastics? and sometimes figure skating?? the vestibular system in human beings vary at/during different times of maturation. just as the body grows and matures to adulthood so does one's vestibular system. along the way, some children have more mature vestibular systems than others. and this includes but are not limited to disablilites that you may not know of or can clearly see.

the simple round off: a child runs forward (linear). the average speed is approx 4 mph. if they perform the round off correctly it will speed up (acceleration) before they hit their feet. they must also 1/4 turn down to the floor and 1/4 turn back up to their feet (rotational). so, it becomes like a math problem. forward run linear speed @ 4 mph>to 1/4 turn to upside down>to 1/4 turn to right side up to the feet= 5-7 mph increase of internal/linear force. the childs vestibular system is taking measurements of all the movement taking place...from the hands and feet being on the floor...and including that paucity of a moment when they are in space.

if you ask 2 children. 1 might state "whew, i was going so fast on my round off i couldn't see anything and that's why i sat down". the other states "geesh, i'm trying to go as fast as i can and i feel like i can't".

but when the coach observes the 1st the coach states "you couldn't have gone any slower if you tried!" and to the 2nd he states "worry not, you're moving fast enough". the coach observes complete opposites to what the kids 'feel'. yet it is the vestibular systems of 2 different children measured differently in a quantitative measurement and 'felt' differently in the kids compared to what the coach sees in the comparative analysis in the 'minds eye' of the coach.

now put in the flip-flop. the 1st child 'senses' that i have to much 'ooomph' (linear speed coupled with rotational force) and "i don't think i will be able to put my hands down on the floor and i might hit my head".

the 2nd child 'senses' that she doesn't have near enough 'ooomph' to "make it over" and "i might land on my head". can you all see the predicament?

now take a 3rd child. a child with an inexplicable but very mature vestibular system. has the worst technique and form that a coach has ever seen. so bad that...the coach won't even let the kid attempt a round off>flip-flop. this child 'senses' that no matter what...i'm not scared of what the other 2 are scared of and i'm going anyway even if my coach yells at me and tells my parents. and you all have seen this kid too in your gym.

you see, everyone calls the 3rd child the "fearless" one. but fearless is a medical misnomer. it really is about what is taking place in the vestibular system of all 3 children. hence, the "backwards problem". it will come and go as the kids mature. sometimes it will present itself once. for some kids it may be several times thru their career. in some it will be really bad and carry on for months. yet in others it lasts a couple of weeks. for some only a back walkover on beam. for most that have immature vestibular systems, it will present for all things going backwards on all events. there is no consistency with the kids...yet the consistency is in the how the individual's vestibular system measures and responds to all of the forces that are being placed upon it.

if parents can accept paying money when they see this problem going nowhere yet their kid loves it, and the coaches are patient during these periods of anxiety and explain it to the kids and parents, i have seen most kids mature thru and outgrow the problem. unfortunately, you can not predict when a child's vestibular system will mature and come in to its own.

to coaches: when you see this problem you now know that it is not due to lack of confidence or the child seeking negative attention or other various sundry statements i've heard over the years from under-educated coaches. the problem is real. speak to other professionals in the medical field.

and to parents: if any of you might be a neurologist...well then...no further explanation is needed, right?

:);)

p.s. before you ask... no amount of sports psychology, self help books or hypnotism can readily "cure" this problem.
 
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mariposa

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Wow, that was amazingly interesting dunno. Thanks for sharing that! So kids that say they aren't afraid, can't explain it, etc, it is probably vestibular? Or are you saying it is always vestibular?
 

dunno

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in movement time, it is always vestibular.
 

MdGymMom01

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Thank you so much Dunno for that in depth explanation!!!! That was so incredibly interesting to read. This is such a fascinating subject!! Thanks again for your knowledge and insight.
 

gymjourneymom

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Dunno words cannot express how indebited I am to you for taking the time to reply to my post with so much depth!!!! A million "thank yous" to you:D!!!! Thank you for all of your help & advice! I've always wished you could be my DD's coach:D!
 
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