How To Keep Going Through The Season

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JBS

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By Mary Reiss

During the summer, gymnasts often can’t wait to get out on the competition floor and show the judges the skills they have worked so hard to perfect in the off-season. Once the season begins, gymnasts are faced with at least four months of competition ahead of them. Sometimes to keep the enthusiasm for competition up through the entire season, a little encouragement is necessary.

One way to ensure gymnasts stay encouraged throughout the competition season is to set small individual goals for each meet. A good example of this is to pick one area of improvement from the last meet on each event. Let’s say, for example, that a gymnast was over time on her beam routine in her first meet. In the gym, she and her coach have been working on ways to effectively speed up her routine. In the next meet, her goal on beam should be to finish her beam routine on time.

Another way to provide individual gymnasts with goals is to give them an increased score range that they should aim at. (I say “range” because gymnastics judging is so subjective and can vary quite a bit from meet to meet.) Say a gymnast received an 8.4 on her floor routine in the first meet. After working on the problem areas in the gym between meets, give the gymnast a score range to hit between 8.5 and 8.8. This will not only give her a higher score to reach for, but it will also provide her with a realistic goal to attain. If you say, for instance, that her goal should be a 9.0, that’s quite a bit of improvement to expect from an 8.4-performing gymnast (unless, of course, she fell). Her goal by the end of the season can work up to a 9.0 or higher, of course, but use each meet as a stepping-stone to get better.

Team goals are another way to keep up the enthusiasm during the season. One great goal is to hit all routines on all events without any falls. At the end of the season, if they hit each routine in a meet, the entire team has a party. Working together to obtain this goal will make the gymnasts more cohesive as a team, as well as want to do well individually. Another team goal is to improve the team score at each meet. This will give the team a goal for each meet and may be more appropriate than hitting each routine they put up.

Goals are a great way for gymnasts to stay motivated throughout the season. Obviously, goals should not just be set by the coach and given to the gymnast to adopt. Coaches need to work with their gymnasts to help them make realistic goals for themselves. Whether it’s a team goal, an individual goal, or both that gymnasts are working toward, use each meet as a stepping-stone to progress and get better at competing. It will help the season fly by and help attitudes stay positive!

Mary Reiss is the author of the Gym Rats children’s fictional book series about gymnastics. She also writes a monthly free e-newsletter called Gym Rats News specifically for gymnasts. (For more information, visit www.irisblupublishing.com.)




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