Thank you for supporting our sponsors Energym Music & Norberts & High 5 Meets!

Beam Mental Block

Gymx2

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
667
Country
USA
I'm not an expert at all- just reading this to my DD, who suggests that if she's scared to move the mats she should go from using 8 inch mats, to 4 inch mats, to no mats, then move to resi beam, and eventually to high beam. Are her coaches letting her progress in a way that she is comfortable with?
 

Gymx2

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
667
Country
USA
Also, DD asks if her coaches allow your daughter to use carpets or hand mats on the beam? She says it makes the landing softer and helps with the progression.
 

pt coach

Coach
Coach
Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2009
131
My daughter would second the carpet on the beam thing. She rarely even gets her hands or her feet on the carpet but she likes having it to look for I guess. She has been afraid of series - whatever the series happens to be - since level 7. Last year she switched to Diamond and still tried to compete at least a bwo bhs. It was a huge struggle and no fun for her or me (did I happen to mention that I am also one of her beam coaches?). Then it dawned on both of us that she actually didn't need to do this series and she had other options in Diamond. I am kind of embarrassed that I did not suggest moving on sooner. My mantra is always "let's find something that works!" Except I guess when it involves my own child. After the time off from the series and then more time off for COVID, she has now discovered that she is no longer afraid of series. I think the time off let her brain reset.
 

profmom

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Nov 18, 2011
9,381
Region 7
Country
USA
My daughter did eventually work through the block. She competed L8 for three years with a BWO-BHS until injuries convinced her to shift to Diamond. The BWO was very tough on her back, so she switched to a RO series. She is now a college club gymnast, and if there are meets in 2021, she has a couple different possible series in mind, but has a nice BHS to two feet that she wants in her beam routine.

If the coaches are amenable, it might be worth competing beam either 1) without a series and just eating the deduction or 2) with a series that will work and continue working the backwards skills in a configuration in which she can be successful. My DD's issues were so tough that she couldn't do a handstand-back handspring, but maybe that is an option for yours? Or is the BHS itself the problem?
 

gymisforeveryone

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
856
Ask the coach if she could either use mats under the high beam or thin mat over the beam. I bet the gym has some kind of thin mat to throw over the beam. I can some how understand the "no mats under high beams" rule if there is only one or two high beams and the group is big. But throwing a thin mat over the beam doesn't take too much time and doesn't distract anyone else.

Some of my girls who are afraid of beam tumbling use these beam mats to make themselves go for it. At first they land the skill on the mat. Then they gradually move the mat closer to the end of the beam, but they always start the skill at the same spot so in the end they don't land on the mat at all, but it helps to see the mat there. It's some kind of trick to fool the brain.

One option is to raise a low beam, put small spotting blocks under the beam feet. If everyone else is working on routines on the high beams, she could have the low raised beam just for herself.

If the coaches refuse to listen or find other options, change gyms.
 

L7mom

New Member
Proud Parent
Sep 23, 2020
12
52
Country
USA
These are all great ideas and suggestions! I appreciate all the feedback so much! Its hard for me to know exactly what mats they are using unless she tells me. Trying to not ask too many questions, I really don't know. If I meet with her coaches again, maybe they can explain in more detail where she's at, progression and steps to work past this. I've seen the yellow Simone Biles mat used on beam for upper level skills in the past but don't know of any carpet.
I'm so grateful for this forum to be able to discuss these challenges and know that we're not alone! Thank you all so much!
 
  • Like
Reactions: PinPin and txgymfan

gymisforeveryone

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
856
That yellow mat is just perfect!

I have had many girls with all kind of mental blocks on beam. All of them have over came the block at one point, and these are the strategies we have used, if the gymnast can do the skill on low beam but not on the high beam:

1) Stack mats under the beam, to the beam height. Then two panel mats on the sides of the beam. If you are terrified, you can even throw that yellow mat over all of it! Ta daa, now you can't even see the beam. It feels like floor. Do the skill, and then gradually move one mat at the time. The steps should be TINY! If you start to hesitate or balk, go back to the step where you were comfortable and stay there until you are bored again. This works for the kids who have very severe blocks or fears.

2) Watch yourself do the skill on video, if you were once able to do it. Then close your eyes, and try to do the skill in your mind. At first this can be difficult! If you are not able to see yourself do the skill in your mind, watch the video again. Make sure that you are in a peaceful place and relaxed. Then try to see the same skill in your mind, but change the gymnast. It's no longer you, it's someone from your team that has the skill. Then make her do it in your head like zillion times. When you can do this, try to imagine the same skill, same gymnast, with YOUR leotard on. Is it hard? Practice, practice, practice. When you can do this, change her hair color to YOUR hair color. Take tiny steps like this, until YOU are the gymnast who is able to perform the skill in your mind. If you struggle, try to change something from the mental picture. If you can make changes that make no sense, like change the beam to pink, or put cotton candy under the beam, this can trick your mind and you don't see yourself falling anymore. Sounds silly, but works!
The last step of this mental training is to change perspective in your mental picture. At first you tried to see yourself from outside, but now you want to take an active role and imagine yourself doing the skill. So you don't see yourself anymore, you see what you are supposed to see when performing the skill. This is the hardest step, but if you can get there, you are closer to doing the skill!

3) When you have done the mental training at home enough, try to bring it to practice. Go to a quiet corner of the gym, close your eyes and do the skill in your mind, like you practiced. Do this many times. Then go to the beam area, do the skill on the low beam, then close your eyes and do the skill again in your mind. Then, immediately without thinking anything, go to the high beam, give yourself 5 seconds to go for it and do the skill with the yellow mat. If you can't do the skill in 5 seconds, jump off the beam, and repeat the mental practice and do the skill on the low beam again. Then try again. You can ONLY stay on the high beam for 5 seconds and then you have to go for it, or jump off. It's very important to remember, that you are NOT a failure, if you are not able to do the skill on that given day. At least you tried. You might need more mental training at home.
 

gymjunkie

Coach
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Judge
Sep 9, 2013
612
Country
USA
This seems extreme but I don’t know what is normal for progressing beam skills either? It does seem a big jump to go straight from low to high and our gym’s stance is if you have the numbers you should be confident. Personally, I feel there would be no harm in having 3-4 8 inchers underneath. I’m no expert or anything. In your or other coach’s experience does this build some kind of hard to break dependence? Seems totally different than a kid expecting spots. JMO.
Stacking mats will not build dependence the way that spotting will. IME coaches who resort to rules like low beam straight to high are just bad beam coaches. There are fearless kids who can do this, but I don't even let those kids do it because I am thinking long-term, not short-term outcome. There are also beam pads that can be used instead (easier to remove than mat stacks).
 

JBS

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Sep 3, 2005
5,935
Wisconsin
Country
USA
The solution is a lot of patience and going where she can be successful. She shouldn't be spending her time standing on the high beam and reinforcing the lack of success/attempt and failure. Building a habit of consistent success and slow movement forward will work eventually.

Yes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PinPin and txgymfan

Gymmomlisa

New Member
Proud Parent
Nov 23, 2019
28
46
Country
USA
Same situation with my daughter. Your coaches need to give her options. There are other things that can fulfill the requirements for L7 like RO-CW. It is not the "ideal" skill, but sometimes taking the pressure off can help the block. Forcing something that is not there will not help in the long run. I am curious what age she is. Mine is 12 going on 13, so hoping as she gets through puberty and her mind matures she will be able to work through this internal struggle.
I agree. My daughter is now 14 and competed L7 last yr. she has had a backwards block since after L5. Dont know where it came from or how to break the fear. But I do know we cant force past it. For beam she either did roundoff cartwheel or dive cartwheel/cartwheel. For floor her coaches have been able to have her do other acceptable skills as well. Thank goodness optionals gives us options! :)