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For Parents Mental Block During Meet Season

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gymdaughter77

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Apr 22, 2017
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My 8 year old daughter has developed her 2nd mental block with her BHS. Her history goes back to getting it 3 years ago this month. She was doing Rec classes at a Turner’s program and expressed interest in competing. I was not comfortable with their program and we visited a USAG gym in our area. She was evaluated and they said she could join their level 3 team. It was apparent from the first day of practice she was behind in strength, flexibility and sills. She struggled through and never complained about going to practice. I was told in September that she would still be on level 3 team, but not compete. In January, I was emailed that they were moving her back to developmental so that she could progress with her new teammates. My DD does not tell me a lot (especially if it is negative), but it later came out that one of her level 3 teammates was bullying her and some of the others joined in. In March I discovered that she was doing a pause between her RO and BHS. We continued practice as usual, our gym does not allow team to have privates. She also cheers for her school, so she was getting some practice there. After begging the one coach agreed to a private and 2 weeks later she connected. She had it for s month. Her ROBHS was beautiful, better than ever and everyone was so happy. She was told she would compete full year level 3 and life was good- for a month. During a practice for a Rec cheer practice one of the girls rolled out in front of her has she was was doing her ROBHS and she caught her out of the corner of her eye. That’s all it took! Poof! It was gone again! Back to pausing turned into not doing a standing BHS on the floor to not doing it without at spot anywhere! Everyone is frustrated. Her coaches have tried everything- bring supportive, yelling, disapline and shaming. Nothing helps. I have done all of the same and it seems like there is no hope. She has competed in 3 level 3 comps not even attempting to do a ROBHS. She does the RO , rebounds and finishes. She does ok on the other events. Not great, but placing 4th, 5th, 6th.
Last night at after practice the one coach said that she will be scratching floor for today’s meet. She said that she is seeing no progress and that DD simply doesn’t want it and is not determined. She said that three weeks ago she started making progress and has now stopped. She was spotting her last week during warmups and she was shaking like a leaf.
I just don’t know what to do. We have tried hypnosis therapy from a recording, but she just doesn’t seem mature enough to focus on something like that. We are currently reading Going For It! By Mark Gibson and she has all the answers as we’re reading and recognizes what she needs to do, but can’t apply it in the gym.
Any ideas or advice is greatly appreciated!!!
 

SurpriseGymMom

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Sep 11, 2013
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Give it time, and stop making a big deal out of it. Read through the umpteen threads on here about mental blocks and what parents can do to help (and what does NOT help).
It seems like it is such a huge deal and the timing is terrible. Pressure is on. But honestly, a season of L3 is NOT going to matter in the least down the road if she sticks with this sport.
Best of luck to your DD, I hope it clicks for her and she gets it back soon!
 

gymdoc

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Nov 24, 2013
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YDD is the queen of mental blocks. She has the same problem with connected RO-BHS on floor. She is a level 6 (was supposed to do 7) so she was able to switch her pass so it was front going only. I know that is not an option for compulsories though

The two things that help her the most is visualization and progressions. She watches videos of her skills before bed every night. She watches them in regular speed and then slo-mo, and says out loud the steps that she is going through. For her this helps her brain to focus on the "technical" and muscle memory aspect of the skill and not the "emotional" part.

Progressions is similar. Her coach took her back handspring all the way back to the beginning, focusing on round off rebound first, then moving up. We videoed those progressions as well and she watches those as well

She still doesn't have all her skills back but it definitely helps the frustration at practice every day. Scratching floor can really help too, as it takes the pressure off for a while
 

kayjaybe

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Jul 19, 2012
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Honestly the most concerning thing in your post is that the coaches tried to deal with a perfectly normal mental block with yelling, discipline, and shaming!!!
And that you say you have done the same....unless I’m misunderstanding it.

Please don’t shame your dd for something she cannot control. And don’t allow others to do it either.

She’s 8. She’ll get it eventually. Or she won’t and she’ll decide this isn’t the sport for her. But either way, it will work itself out. But it isn’t worth making her feel like crap over it.

Signed,
A mom of a dd who has had mental blocks on giants, BWO on beam, BHS on beam, twisting on floor, flipping on vault....and I can’t even remember what else.
 

duyetanh

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Feb 21, 2015
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And that you say you have done the same....unless I’m misunderstanding it.

Please don’t shame your dd for something she cannot control. And don’t allow others to do it either.

She’s 8. She’ll get it eventually. Or she won’t and she’ll decide this isn’t the sport for her. But either way, it will work itself out. But it isn’t worth making her feel like crap over it.

Signed,
A mom of a dd who has had mental blocks on giants, BWO on beam, BHS on beam, twisting on floor, flipping on vault....and I can’t even remember what else.
Can i sign that too? :confused:
 
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2gymkids

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Mar 26, 2013
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Please stop. Her coaches shouldn't be yelling at her or shaming her. They should be tough, but supportive, back it up to where she's comfortable and start building it back. They should also know this isn't unusual. You should give her a hug and tell her these things happen all the time, go back in the gym and keep working and it will come back when she least expects it.

My daughter has gone through SO much of this in the last two years and the ONLY thing that has ever helped it is relieving the pressure and backing it back up. She's stressed out enough about the whole thing already.
 

IreneKa

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Mar 18, 2013
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Search this forum for “mental blocks” and “vestibular “. You are handling it all wrong, that’s why the problem is escalating. No yelling, no shaming, no punishing. Also no hypnosis and no privates. You are making too big of a deal out of it, and putting too much pressure on her. You need to understand and explain to her that it is absolutely normal and very common, her mind and body need time to work through this. Then back off, don’t talk about it, don’t ask about it, remove all the pressure.
And if the coaches don’t know how to handle mental blocks, maybe you need new coaches.
 

profmom

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Scratching floor is the best possible solution for this kind of thing. Take all the pressure off, take the skill off the table entirely. Cosign everything about blocks and vestibular issues, but if it's not vestibular, the only long-term successful solutions to blocks is for the child her/himself to come to the point of driving forward to get the skill rather than being pushed.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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May 6, 2013
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I haven't been through this yet. But we've been at a gym where the coaches were (IMO) borderline abusive, and extremely demanding, and at a gym where the coaches are unfailing patient and gentle. And at both gyms the very experienced coaches are adamant that the way to deal with blocks was to take the gymnast back to wherever they felt safe (the low beam, or drills, or whatever) and to take off ALL pressure to "get" the skill.

I personally listened to one mom tell me that she didn't buy that - and she kept pressuring her daughter. The block spread to pretty much everything and lasted all season. She's extraordinarily talented, but I don't know how much longer she'll be in gym. Mostly because her parents won't give her space to figure it out. I'm sure they'll end up pulling her before long because they consider it a "waste of time" if she's not doing all her skills at meets.

I'm also watching the opposite play out with DD's gym bestie. She's just a naturally scared kid. And mom and coach act 100% like they don't care if she does the skill or not. Once she is in a place where she feels unpressured, and safe with what she's doing, she asks them to help her work her way back up. She WANTS to do the skills, they all do! But they're terrified. These are scary things they do!
 

cadybearsmommy

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I have been in your shoes, my dd developed a mental block her first year of competing over the ROBHS. A teammate who was trying to play coach told her that her back handsprings were too low and she was going to "break her neck." It was close to a year before she was able to do it again. At first we were doing all the wrong things, being pushy, getting privates, etc. When I came here for advice, the most valuable thing I learned was that you should treat mental blocks like an injury, and like any injury, they need time to heal with no pressure, no yelling, not even bringing it up. We ended up asking for dd to move from the L3 training group to Xcel bronze that year, so that she could still compete without the pressure of having to do the back handspring. It took a lot of time and patience but when she finally did get it back, she has never had another issue with it since and if anything her floor tumbling has become a strength now, and she's pretty fearless about trying new tumbling passes, etc. We went through it again with the flyaway on bars and the back walkover on the beam. Right now, she is terrifed of a back handspring on the beam, so we may very well be getting ready to go through it all again. It's just a part of the sport. But I will tell you, even though dd has had mental blocks (and will probably have any more) every time she has overcome a mental block (through going back to progressions, drills, lots of patience and hard work and building back the skill slowly) the skill has always been 100% solid once she got it back. I didn't think she would ever go for her flyaway on bars again after hitting her toes multiple times, but with a lot of slow progressions and learning the right technique, she did and it's one of her better skills now, and she's even working towards layout flyaways. This is definitely a sport that requires a lot of patience on everyone's part, the coach, the parents and especially the gymnast. Try not to stress, let her scratch for now to take the pressure off and it will come back soon enough!
 

Gymmomintraining

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Jun 21, 2017
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Great advice here! and I agree- time, give it time. My daughter had a block on BWO on beam for a year- I finally figured out not to say anything about it and just give her space, time, support, and encouragement. Now she is doing them on the high beam! Then just last week she fell on her robhsbt-going into the tuck part she kind of froze. Now that is a skill she’s had on floor for almost a year but now says she needs a spot on. I know now this is just a temporary block that her and her coaches will work out. I just told her I believe in her and know she can do it and it’s her sport so if she needs a spot right now, so be it. It’s a crazy journey but I do love the lifelong skills they learn by overcoming these obstacles. Thy are tough!
 
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