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Mental Block - straddle cast handstand on bars

H.J.

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Feb 11, 2016
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Oh my lord. Bless her. Such crummy luck to get injured once she finally got her skills!!! Is she repeating b/c of the injury or would she have repeated anyway? What do you attribute her taking longer to get the skills on bars to?

And I 100% agree about needing to hear something new or from someone else...Why I came here for advice (insert wink emoji I don't know how to add). We have several new coaches on the staff so I thought that would help....though she's now been working with them for several months so not so new anymore. I hope they are being creating but not sure....She's started doing work in the belt although I am not sure what that's for. Once coach thought she wasn't strong enough to straddle cast to handstand but the others disagree. (I do too b/c I have seen girls who are bigger and/or weaker get it). And she's good at all the usual drills recommended. She can't press to handstand anymore but several of the girls can't and they're ok doing it. Once when a coach spotted her by pushing her shoulders to vertical from the front of the bar, she got up. So it's something with getting those arms/shoulders vertical. But b/c the others don't spot her hard at all I don't think it's strength. Rather her brain for some reason is not giving her body the cue to open up there when she does the skill on her own. My potentially dubious and uneducated theory.....

Good luck to your daughter. And to you.
Each coach has a different theory -- they're probably all right! :) One says it's pure timing -- something about when her legs are in front of the bar out of her kip; another says she doesn't lean far enough over the bar out of her kip; another says her heel drive isn't strong enough; another says she straddles too soon; another says she forgets to shift her wrists at the right time ... again, I'm sure it's a bit of all of this, but I personally (and Very unprofessionally haha) think it's mostly related to her shoulders ... she doesn't lean over the bar far enough for sure but also she doesn't push down on the bar enough fully from her shoulders (or her lats, maybe?) ... she tends to push from her biceps and not from her shoulders. I think it's the whole "open shoulders" thing they always talk about but I never understand? Again, what do I know. Mostly her current coach is so tired of her not having the skill that it seems she's given up so she (DD) isn't really being coached/helped -- she's only being verbally corrected, which absolutely doesn't work with her. I really hope she gets it again soon; otherwise, it's going to be another long season of looking away when her bars score comes up! :) And in my mind, she's repeating b/c of that issue. Even though she got the skills in the summer, the fact that she never got a 36 (a non-negotiable at our gym for moving up) held her back. You could do really well on all the other events w/o these skills and still get a 36 AA but she also struggled with beam series. She got in the 35s, but could never make it to a 36. Oh well!
 

H.J.

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Each coach has a different theory -- they're probably all right! :) One says it's pure timing -- something about when her legs are in front of the bar out of her kip; another says she doesn't lean far enough over the bar out of her kip; another says her heel drive isn't strong enough; another says she straddles too soon; another says she forgets to shift her wrists at the right time ... again, I'm sure it's a bit of all of this, but I personally (and Very unprofessionally haha) think it's mostly related to her shoulders ... she doesn't lean over the bar far enough for sure but also she doesn't push down on the bar enough fully from her shoulders (or her lats, maybe?) ... she tends to push from her biceps and not from her shoulders. I think it's the whole "open shoulders" thing they always talk about but I never understand? Again, what do I know. Mostly her current coach is so tired of her not having the skill that it seems she's given up so she (DD) isn't really being coached/helped -- she's only being verbally corrected, which absolutely doesn't work with her. I really hope she gets it again soon; otherwise, it's going to be another long season of looking away when her bars score comes up! :) And in my mind, she's repeating b/c of that issue. Even though she got the skills in the summer, the fact that she never got a 36 (a non-negotiable at our gym for moving up) held her back. You could do really well on all the other events w/o these skills and still get a 36 AA but she also struggled with beam series. She got in the 35s, but could never make it to a 36. Oh well!
Also, my DD is quite tall for her age ... I know long legs isn't a deal breaker but it surely can't make it any easier ...
 

Krisztina10

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Each coach has a different theory -- they're probably all right! :) One says it's pure timing -- something about when her legs are in front of the bar out of her kip; another says she doesn't lean far enough over the bar out of her kip; another says her heel drive isn't strong enough; another says she straddles too soon; another says she forgets to shift her wrists at the right time ... again, I'm sure it's a bit of all of this, but I personally (and Very unprofessionally haha) think it's mostly related to her shoulders ... she doesn't lean over the bar far enough for sure but also she doesn't push down on the bar enough fully from her shoulders (or her lats, maybe?) ... she tends to push from her biceps and not from her shoulders. I think it's the whole "open shoulders" thing they always talk about but I never understand? Again, what do I know. Mostly her current coach is so tired of her not having the skill that it seems she's given up so she (DD) isn't really being coached/helped -- she's only being verbally corrected, which absolutely doesn't work with her. I really hope she gets it again soon; otherwise, it's going to be another long season of looking away when her bars score comes up! :) And in my mind, she's repeating b/c of that issue. Even though she got the skills in the summer, the fact that she never got a 36 (a non-negotiable at our gym for moving up) held her back. You could do really well on all the other events w/o these skills and still get a 36 AA but she also struggled with beam series. She got in the 35s, but could never make it to a 36. Oh well!
That's very frustrating about the coaches. And so silly about the 36 requirement. She must have been very strong on the other events to have that AA. If she gets it during the season and scores above 36 could she begin competing level 8? Hopefully you can find a coach to work with her in a more productive fashion again. I hope she is not getting too frustrated or discouraged. Perhaps tell her to visualize back to when she had the skills and maybe watch videos of her doing it? Perhaps something will come back to her. Your theory about the open shoulders and pushing from the shoulders/lats is interesting as it is similar to the issue I think my daughter may have....Fingers crossed for your daughter. Hope she hangs in there and works through this. Amazing what these kids handle - mentally and physically.
 
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OrchidZ

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You talk about her (probable) fears, but it really sounds like this may be bothering you more than it does her. You tell her “it’ll just click,” but your posts indicate great concern. Just the fact that you’ve talked to her about it as much as it sounds like you have.. that communicates to her that this is a big problem. Really, it isn’t in the grand scheme of things.

When my girl was a compulsory gymnast, I remember the coach saying, “Some day your kid will get hurt. It’s your job to stay calm. You may be scared or worried inside, but don’t show it. YOU have to convey that this is ok. These things happen. If you are calm and optimistic, they will be too, and that attitude is important.” They were right, but not just about injury. It applies to this too. Your job, mom, is appear to be calm and optimistic. If she is bringing up quitting, she may just be blowing off steam and watching to see how you react. I’d just let that go. If she really decides that she wants to quit, you’ll know it. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

That said, this sounds similar to my kid's experience with Level 9 and pak. We tried privates. Patience. More patience. It was hard to watch her struggle like that. It really affected her confidence on all the events as bars had been a strong event until that year. She repeated 9 to build confidence. A new coach in the second year just kept her drilling. They stood there and spotted her Every. Single. Time. Lighter and lighter touch. They very, very slowly got to the point where they would just stand there, ready to help if she needed it. She competed the second entire season with the coach right there, ready to help. Finally, she got to the point that she could do it if they were standing there, but they didn't need to be reaching up, ready to help. Then they stood a little further back. Eventually, she agreed to let another, older gymnast stand there for her. She just needed someone. It wasn't too long after that that she was able to do it alone. It took two full years, but she did it. Her pak is truly beautiful, and her confidence is back.

Have faith in your girl and in the coaches. When something scares them, it takes time. It's ok for her to be nervous or afraid. I noticed that you said she's 12. I've read several people say that the 11-13 timeframe is hard for a lot of gymnasts. Bodies and minds change, fear kicks in. It's tough, and it takes a while. Courage is about acknowledging the fear and continuing to work on the challenge anyway, which she is doing. I praise her dedication, work ethic, and courage. It's even ok to say she wants to quit, though I wouldn't go there yet. But it's ok to have those thoughts. I like the advice: "Don't quit when you're down. You have a good day and then, if you still want to leave, that's ok." There's a reason that the number of girls per level goes down so much each level in optionals. These are tough skills. If she's pushed too hard or tries to move on before she's ready, the next levels are going to be even harder! I consulted a mental coach about this who said, “Of course, she’s scared! She’s smart. She knows that she doesn’t have this skill. She has to train it enough that she understands it and KNOWS it.” That was an eye opener for me. It's not a matter of just, “Don’t be scared.” They have to train it until they build trust in themselves for that skill (and sometimes trust for their coaches for that skill).

Think back to a skill she has now that she struggled with in the lower levels. For my girl it was the back handspring. EVERYONE had it before she did. She only got hers the week before her first meet, but today she can do one easily. I reminded my girl that some of those skills seemed to take forever, but now she can do them without fear and without having to think about them too much. It just takes longer to get a new skill now. And that's ok. They're bigger skills! That's going to continue. Some skills can take years to train at higher levels.

Just because your girl is struggling with this now does not mean that this won't be a strength in the future. Two years of struggle and bars is again my girl's best event and her joy every day in practice. Focus on the parts of the sport that she loves. There will always be a skill or skills they they struggle with. If not, they aren't being challenged and aren't growing to their potential. I hope that you aren't commenting to her on what you think she needs to change for this skill. If you aren't a coach or a former gymnast, you might not be right. Your attempts to help will probably make her feel more pressure that she should “just get it”, because it clearly means so very much to you. I highly recommend you give her a hug and say, "You know. We've been talking about this skill a lot.. and the truth is.. we really don't need to. You are working hard and growing so much as a gymnast and a person. *Share with her the things *not skills* that she's developing.. teamwork, positive attitude, focus, work ethic, personal responsibility, whatever it is that you've observed her demonstrating (but don't go overboard! Keep it to a few things)* These are the most important part of the sport. With them and perseverance, everything else will work out in time."

This is actually a wonderful time for her. It is a great opportunity to learn the power of faith, hard work, and determination. Perhaps she can visualize doing the skill the way she wants to do it and how proud she will be when it happens! It's just a matter of when. Because if she sticks with it, she'll get there. And she's right. You don't know that it'll "just click". She's smart and realizes that. Sometimes it doesn't "just click." Sometimes it's just baby steps, baby steps. But help her remember that even baby steps are progress.

Sorry this is long, but this is such a passionate subject for me. I'm so proud of your daughter. The first year of optionals is such a big, new, exciting time but it can be nerve-wracking if you let it. I wish I’d relaxed and tried to enjoy it more at level 7. "It's not the Olympics." I make an effort to enjoy our time in the sport now. The training and skills don't get easier. For her, this is a great time to start to learn to roll with the punches and accept the ride as it comes. For you too :) 7704

Good luck <3
 

gymmom21

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Can she cast to handstand and go over? When the girls in our gym are learning this skill they practice on a single low bar with the intention of going over. This teaches them how to safely go over the bar (they turn like a beam dismount instead of arching) and makes them not afraid to go all the way up. This would help to know if it was fear.
The other drill I see girls doing is a straddle and tapping feet on the bar and coming down. So basically focusing on upper body position without worrying about getting legs up above their head.
 

Krisztina10

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You talk about her (probable) fears, but it really sounds like this may be bothering you more than it does her. You tell her “it’ll just click,” but your posts indicate great concern. Just the fact that you’ve talked to her about it as much as it sounds like you have.. that communicates to her that this is a big problem. Really, it isn’t in the grand scheme of things.

When my girl was a compulsory gymnast, I remember the coach saying, “Some day your kid will get hurt. It’s your job to stay calm. You may be scared or worried inside, but don’t show it. YOU have to convey that this is ok. These things happen. If you are calm and optimistic, they will be too, and that attitude is important.” They were right, but not just about injury. It applies to this too. Your job, mom, is appear to be calm and optimistic. If she is bringing up quitting, she may just be blowing off steam and watching to see how you react. I’d just let that go. If she really decides that she wants to quit, you’ll know it. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

That said, this sounds similar to my kid's experience with Level 9 and pak. We tried privates. Patience. More patience. It was hard to watch her struggle like that. It really affected her confidence on all the events as bars had been a strong event until that year. She repeated 9 to build confidence. A new coach in the second year just kept her drilling. They stood there and spotted her Every. Single. Time. Lighter and lighter touch. They very, very slowly got to the point where they would just stand there, ready to help if she needed it. She competed the second entire season with the coach right there, ready to help. Finally, she got to the point that she could do it if they were standing there, but they didn't need to be reaching up, ready to help. Then they stood a little further back. Eventually, she agreed to let another, older gymnast stand there for her. She just needed someone. It wasn't too long after that that she was able to do it alone. It took two full years, but she did it. Her pak is truly beautiful, and her confidence is back.

Have faith in your girl and in the coaches. When something scares them, it takes time. It's ok for her to be nervous or afraid. I noticed that you said she's 12. I've read several people say that the 11-13 timeframe is hard for a lot of gymnasts. Bodies and minds change, fear kicks in. It's tough, and it takes a while. Courage is about acknowledging the fear and continuing to work on the challenge anyway, which she is doing. I praise her dedication, work ethic, and courage. It's even ok to say she wants to quit, though I wouldn't go there yet. But it's ok to have those thoughts. I like the advice: "Don't quit when you're down. You have a good day and then, if you still want to leave, that's ok." There's a reason that the number of girls per level goes down so much each level in optionals. These are tough skills. If she's pushed too hard or tries to move on before she's ready, the next levels are going to be even harder! I consulted a mental coach about this who said, “Of course, she’s scared! She’s smart. She knows that she doesn’t have this skill. She has to train it enough that she understands it and KNOWS it.” That was an eye opener for me. It's not a matter of just, “Don’t be scared.” They have to train it until they build trust in themselves for that skill (and sometimes trust for their coaches for that skill).

Think back to a skill she has now that she struggled with in the lower levels. For my girl it was the back handspring. EVERYONE had it before she did. She only got hers the week before her first meet, but today she can do one easily. I reminded my girl that some of those skills seemed to take forever, but now she can do them without fear and without having to think about them too much. It just takes longer to get a new skill now. And that's ok. They're bigger skills! That's going to continue. Some skills can take years to train at higher levels.

Just because your girl is struggling with this now does not mean that this won't be a strength in the future. Two years of struggle and bars is again my girl's best event and her joy every day in practice. Focus on the parts of the sport that she loves. There will always be a skill or skills they they struggle with. If not, they aren't being challenged and aren't growing to their potential. I hope that you aren't commenting to her on what you think she needs to change for this skill. If you aren't a coach or a former gymnast, you might not be right. Your attempts to help will probably make her feel more pressure that she should “just get it”, because it clearly means so very much to you. I highly recommend you give her a hug and say, "You know. We've been talking about this skill a lot.. and the truth is.. we really don't need to. You are working hard and growing so much as a gymnast and a person. *Share with her the things *not skills* that she's developing.. teamwork, positive attitude, focus, work ethic, personal responsibility, whatever it is that you've observed her demonstrating (but don't go overboard! Keep it to a few things)* These are the most important part of the sport. With them and perseverance, everything else will work out in time."

This is actually a wonderful time for her. It is a great opportunity to learn the power of faith, hard work, and determination. Perhaps she can visualize doing the skill the way she wants to do it and how proud she will be when it happens! It's just a matter of when. Because if she sticks with it, she'll get there. And she's right. You don't know that it'll "just click". She's smart and realizes that. Sometimes it doesn't "just click." Sometimes it's just baby steps, baby steps. But help her remember that even baby steps are progress.

Sorry this is long, but this is such a passionate subject for me. I'm so proud of your daughter. The first year of optionals is such a big, new, exciting time but it can be nerve-wracking if you let it. I wish I’d relaxed and tried to enjoy it more at level 7. "It's not the Olympics." I make an effort to enjoy our time in the sport now. The training and skills don't get easier. For her, this is a great time to start to learn to roll with the punches and accept the ride as it comes. For you too :) View attachment 7704

Good luck <3
Thank you for your post. I really enjoyed reading it. You make so many excellent points and it really puts things in perspective. Interestingly my daughter also took forever to get her back handspring and I often remind her how she almost stopped gym b/c she was too scared of the skill. The way your daughter worked through the pak is also incredibly similar to the process my daughter goes through with her fears , whether on bars or bear - step by baby step the spot or the mat or whatever it is gets further as she gains confidence. I also appreciate your point about their bodies doing things when they are ready. I truly do think some kids bodies/brains don't let them execute or try to execute a skill until their strong enough and otherwise ready. I can't thank enough everyone on here for sharing their wisdom and experiences. It is immeasurably helpful.
 

Carly

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This bugs for and I have been thinking about it. And thinking out loud here.

She really doesn't need it for L7. She can do a L7 routine without getting vertical (I am assuming she is casting and not refusing to cast at all unless spotted). She will lose points, not score as well. Yes all that is true. And she can do a L7 bar routine.

And I think it adds unnecessary pressure on these kids to insist they can do a level if they don't have something (as long as safety is not an issue). And causes a lot of kids to leave the sport when letting them compete. Again "So What" if they aren't scoring as well. As time goes on the cast gets higher and the scores go up.

Makes me grateful our gym lets them compete as long as safety is not a factor. And its quite the confidence builder for the kids to see their scores go up. We have a couple of kids not getting to handstand in L8 and their bars scores aren't great but they are mid to high eights and they are scoring 35-36 AA. Far better for their confidence then staying a what L5/6?? because they aren't vertical.

The more I ponder it the more I think holding kids back over something like this causes more problems then it helps. And causes more kids to drop out sooner then they would if they would just let them give it their best. JMO and 2 cents.
I respect your opinion but disagree on this from my personal experience. I think that It really depends on the individual kid.

My dd was injured on beam after level 5 states while she was training for level 7. She did very well in levels 3-5 and never had any fears/blocks. She missed 2 months of practice because of the injury. She still went to almost every practice to condition/stretch and do what she was permitted. She was able to get back to where she was and get the new skills on everything except bars. She could have done level 6 but really wanted to do 7 and the coaches were ok with that because they thought that she would get the chs and giants. Well, she never did and scored mostly 7s the entire level 7 season on bars. It ended up affecting the other events because she was losing her confidence as a gymnast. She was embarrassed and humiliated at every meet but never told me until after meet season was over. She was ready to quit, so the day after states we found her a new gym that has a great Xcel program and she loves it again. She's been there over a year now.

If you would have told me a few years ago, that my dd, who wanted to do college gym and always placed high at meets, would be doing Xcel, I would have said "no, way." This is the path that she ended up taking and she is safe and happy, so I'm happy. Would she still be at the other, more competitive gym if she did level 6 instead? Possibly, but we'll never know.
 
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H.J.

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That's very frustrating about the coaches. And so silly about the 36 requirement. She must have been very strong on the other events to have that AA. If she gets it during the season and scores above 36 could she begin competing level 8? Hopefully you can find a coach to work with her in a more productive fashion again. I hope she is not getting too frustrated or discouraged. Perhaps tell her to visualize back to when she had the skills and maybe watch videos of her doing it? Perhaps something will come back to her. Your theory about the open shoulders and pushing from the shoulders/lats is interesting as it is similar to the issue I think my daughter may have....Fingers crossed for your daughter. Hope she hangs in there and works through this. Amazing what these kids handle - mentally and physically.
Yes! She does have a video that the coach took of her when she first got it in the summer so maybe she should watch that a few times lol. One big thing with her is that she doesn't do the mental processing needed to internalize/apply verbal corrections. When/if she's really intentional about doing that, things can happen/click. But that's a big if ... it doesn't happen easily for her. (This is true for her in school as well.) So much of gymnastics has come pretty easily for her -- her body just seems to "do" things. She's never really had to learn to think things through. Maybe in some ways that's good -- no danger of overthinking. However, being intentional/deliberate seems really important when it comes to technique, esp. with harder/higher-level skills, so in that regard, it's hurt her (or so it seems to me). I re-read some of your posts and see lots of similarities ... my DD also can do both skills just fine with a barely-there spot (her coach has said "I'm hardly even touching you" or "that was a one-finger spot" many times) but when left to her own devices, she literally can barely even get to horizontal or maybe slightly above on a good day. Her coaches think that's mostly related to fear -- when they're there, she leans farther over the bar but when they're not, she doesn't. Anyway, yes... what these kids handle, mentally and physically, inspires and amazes me. They work so hard and are capable of amazing things.
 

ldw4mlo

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I respect your opinion but disagree on this from my personal experience. I think that It really depends on the individual kid.

My dd was injured on beam after level 5 states while she was training for level 7. She did very well in levels 3-5 and never had any fears/blocks. ............She could have done level 6 but really wanted to do 7 and the coaches were ok with that because they thought that she would get the chs and giants. Well, she never did and scored mostly 7s the entire level 7 season on bars.
I don‘t know your daughter so I have no idea why she scored how she scored on L7 bars. The fact that she pushed for 7 as opposed to 6 And given her scores, it sounds like she wasn’t quite ready on more then just the 2 skills on bars.

A few things pop here... First scoring well in compulsory is very different in optionals. For many many kids. I know many kids, including my daughter, who in compulsories the only question at meets was is she going to place 1,2 or 3... Different beast in compulsories, growth spurts, injuries and puberty. Increase in skill difficulty. All factors For us add in low hour gym competeing against higher hour gyms, those hours make a difference with higher skills. This year as second year 8s, they will be more on par with the higher hour gyms.

And I also know many girls at the bottom of placements in compulsories shine and medal in optionals.

Again, knowing nothing about your child.

So to clarify When I talk about not having the skill at peak, or not having a skill like giants in Optionals, I was speaking to specific skills. You can do a well scoring routine without a giant in L7 and L8. My kid actually scored low 9s and high 8s without her giants, but getting to vertical HS. She had solid free hips. Her teammates with giants but not casting to vertical were scoring low 9s. Their other skills are solid.

The point being they are overall safe and ready to meet the requirements. If my daughter was at a gym where she couldnt go to 7 unless she had a giant would of had to be 5 or 6 depending on the gym for 3, almost 4 years. That’s when kids quit. She and her father the finance guy might of been OK with 2 years. But not 3.

But because we are at a gym that doesn’t insist on giants to move on as long as they can do an alternative. Because we are at a gym that is Ok with casting to nearly vertical these kids have moved on. One is planning to score out of L8 this year and go to L9. She has her L9 skills including bars and she doesn’t get to vertical. So her bars score will takea hit. But the other stuff is ok.

Those are the situations I’m speaking about. They are overall solid on skills, have options that are in good shape (that’s why it’s called optionals). And maybe some things mostly but not quite there.
 

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