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For Parents newbie competition fears! help!

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gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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dd, 7, is going into her first competition year and is very anxious about the competitions. She tells me it's the judges - what if she scores bad, falls off, etc. DD is not usually like this. She loves the yearly recitals and 2 yrs ago when she was on an in-house team, she did great with the competition.

I have just attempted to reassure her, letting her know that all she needed to worry about was doing the best she could and everyone was very proud of how far she has come but this doesn't seem to have helped. Every practice for the past few weeks has ended with her stating her anxiousness.

I'm ready to just end the conversation, letting her know we have already discussed it enough and she needs to think this out for herself. I'm worried that my talking about it (even the positives) is just perpetuating the situation.

So, is this normal for first yr meets? If so, what's the best way to handle it? I think after she gets a taste, she'll love it but it's this first. Unfortunately, they have one competition in Nov. and then don't begin the regular season until Feb.

Thanks in advance!!!!
 

kristilyn73

Active Member
Jan 17, 2008
1,326
Minnesota
It is perfectly normal! Has she gone to watch her team members compete? We did that before DD competed, it was really nice for her to see how everything works and how other teams compete. Also how not ALL eyes will be on her, if she falls most people wont see (they are too busy watching eveyone else.)

Will everything be perfect? no! you can tell her, My DD in L5 Did 3 Back handsprings in her floor routine once.. they had been warming up 3 bhs's instead of 2. She scored at 6.6 on floor. As a L6 she did 4 Stup (sp?) Circles in her bar routine after falling on her squat on. She scored a 5.95 on bars THEN on her first L7 meet! She started her beam routine in the wrong direction, not a big deal but she Stopped her routine and asked the judges if she can start over!!! She scored a 7.5 Her coach still teases her about that.

tell her it happens to everything! I think I heard that Mary Lou Retton scored like a 1.0 in her first meet..
 
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GymTwinsMom

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It is perfectly normal! Has she gone to watch her team members compete? We did that before DD competed, it was really nice for her to see how everything works and how other teams compete. Also how not ALL eyes will be on her, if she falls most people wont see (they are too busy watching everyone else.)

Will everything be perfect? no! you can tell her, My DD in L5 Did 3 Back handsprings in her floor routine once.. they had been warming up 3 bhs's instead of 2. She scored at 6.6 on floor. As a L6 she did 4 Stup (sp?) Circles in her bar routine after falling on her squat on. She scored a 5.95 on bars THEN on her first L7 meet! She started her beam routine in the wrong direction, not a big deal but she Stopped her routine and asked the judges if she can start over!!! She scored a 7.5 Her coach still teases her about that.

tell her it happens to everything! I think I heard that Mary Lou Retton scored like a 1.0 in her first meet..


I also heard somewhere what Blaine Wilson forgot his level 4 floor routine at his first meet! Don't worry, everyone is watching their own kid. And, even if she does make a mistake, or she falls, it happens! Gymnasts are only human like everyone else, these things will come. Just reassure her that she will be fine and she won't know until she tries!:)
One time at a level 5 meet, Leah accidently did a BWO instead of a handstand in the beginning of her beam routine. She was so used to replacing them because they were preparing the girls for level 6. I forgot her score, it was pretty bad.
Also, I hear that a little adrenalin is good for competing, because it gets the gymnasts pumped and want to score even better! There is always a loophole or a cheat to nerves.
:)
 
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Billy

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I would suggest taking her to watch a meet of her level. The routines will be familiar to her and she'll get an idea of how things work. That probably won't ease her mind completely but at least she'll know what to expect. Also, you could point out if someone falls or something while you're watching the meet that it isn't that big a deal.
 

gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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thanks everyone! I have taken her to three meets to cheer on her gymmates and she really enjoyed them. However, I think it made her more anxious, as she honed in on the judges and scores. It doesn't help that the couple of the girls she likes to follow on the team are very good, getting 1st-2nd place every time.

I have pointed out the errors in the olympic gymnasts. If they can fall and get back on to finish, you can too.

I think I will just let it play itself out. Thanks!
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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Remind her it is supposed to be fun. She loves gymnastics and is just going out there doing what she loves. Everyone makes mistakes - of course we all hope they make their mistakes in practice instead of at meet. My dd's first level 7 meet she fell off the beam 3 times (at that point she just had to laugh). The part she stayed on for looked good though. Then as a level 5 once she was sick and when she did her back extension roll she didn't make it all the way up to the handstand and fell into a bridge. Then she just splatted down onto her back and just laid there a few seconds.

Anyway - any one who has competed can tell you tons of funny stories. Does a bad meet define them as a person or mean they are a bad gymnast - heck no. The best my dd does at meets is when she doesn't take herself too seriously and just goes out there to have fun and do her best. Being nervous for her first meet is so normal - she needs to experience those feelings and get through it -and she will. Good luck to her.
 

HillbillyBunny

New Member
Aug 25, 2008
27
Williamson, WV
Maybe she's just talking about her feelings and anxieties to get them out in the open as a stress reliever. I know when I'm stressed or anxious, I talk about it alot and it makes me feel tons better ;)
 
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TeamDad

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dd, 7, is going into her first competition year and is very anxious about the competitions. She tells me it's the judges - what if she scores bad, falls off, etc. DD is not usually like this.

Quite frankly, it's a nerve racking experience for everyone....as a parent and as a first time competitor. One thing you can be assured of is that it's EVERYONE'S first competition (unless they've been held back a year). Falling and nerves are all expected. Hopefully, you have a great coach who can deal with the emotions that are sure to come, and by mid-season, this should all be a faint memory.

Try and remember that this is a great tool for determining the things that need more work through the season. Use the next meet to see your progress and try and go into the end of the season with huge confidence. These meets will really bring the girls together as a team as they support each others strengths and weaknesses and bond as a united team.

One thing I can stress is that when kids fall and have low scores, it is extremely important as a parent to NOT tolerate tantrums and to stress to them to be professional and represent their team well...even when they don't succeed. Everyone makes mistakes, it's how you deal with them and stay in the competition that will determine how you finish. These kids all work very hard physically but are also very young and need help dealing with the mental side of competitive sports.

A couple of things that we do on competition days is have a good healthy breakfast and limit sugar intake to things that only occur naturally in foods like fruits (NO CANDY). We also visualize the routines in the car on the way to the gym. Work on deep breathing to release stress and plan a team dinner after the meet...even if it's late on a school night. It helps to keep it fun and promote bonding between parents and the girls on the team.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!!!
 

gym law mom

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Dec 23, 2006
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She is being totally normal. I wish my gymmie had been that verbal about her nerves before her 1st L5 meet! Instead she kept it all bottled up and lets say that was not a good idea---fell off the beam 3 times(including the mount!).

Tell her to just do the routines the way she's been taught and not to be concerned with the judges. She has no control over what score they give her, so worrying about that is just wasted time and energy. Remind her to listen to her coaches at the meet----they'll give direction as to what to do. Also falling is not the end of the world. It happens to every girl that has ever competed and if she watched any of the Olympics, well it happened alot there too. Its what you do after the fall(I think that was Tim Daggett's line) that really matters.

Just stress that she will be fine and she'll notice improvement with each meet. One coach told my gymmie that being nervous showed she cared about what she was doing. As TeamDad said, it will be the 1st meet for all(even those repeating the level). Make sure she knows how proud of her you are after the meet---no matter what. A big hug at the end of a stressful day says alot to the kids.

BTW--My gymmie has learned to admit she's nervous and now is looking at competing as a L8 only 3 yrs after those 3 falls off beam at her 1st L5 meet. It does get better----and you learn how to hold your breath through a whole beam routine:)
 

Blackie6

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Mar 1, 2007
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I think it's normal to be a little nervous about your first meet adn your first year! My DD started last year at age 6. Long story short she did not go with her team to the first 2 meets and had to go w/a team mate for the first and solo for the second. I think that is why it was so difficult for her to adjust & get the feel of things. She got a whopper 5.8 on her bars routine and LOL thru the whole thing becasue we were seated about 2 feet away! I was a bundle of nerves myself and a couple time almost missed her because I was in the bathroom! But with each and every meet things got easier for all of us & her scores went up each meet. We just told her this being the first year, everyone has to start somewhere and just to do her best & try to have fun! We also learned from that first meet to try not to sit too close to her if the meets were in smaller spaced gyms. She seems to do better score wise away from audiences. At 6 it was hard enough to remember the routines. Once your DD gets there she may not have time to get nervous, some meets move pretty quickly with warm-ups right into events. They are usually grouped together with their own team for rotations so she shouldn't feel like she's gonna be left alone either. My DD's team sit in a row and give each other back rubs while waitting, too cute! We always had nice judges and I think the coach tells the judges ahead of time when someone is "new" because they were always smiling at my DD when she saluted. We also were pretty lucky in that one of our coaches is also a judge so before meets even started she would "judge" them at practice and give out scores. Some gyms will even hold a "mock" meet for the girls to get a feel of what the real thing will be like. I am sure your DD will be fine!
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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I always told my girls to imagine they were in some fabulous play where they are playing a gymnast doing her routines at a meet. They think it's pretty funny to pretend to be someone else pretending to be them. Visualization is a great skill learned young.

Another idea to take the fear of the judges away, is to talk about what the judges do before meets. Go pee, have a bath, do their hair, think about what ugly blue suit to wear this time, squeeze their bum muscles a bit to prepare for all that sitting. Crank few weights to help with all that writing and drink a lot of coffee to prepare themselves for listening to "that" music.

I think humanizing the judges helps little ones to understand that the judges are just like all the other adults they meet who love gymnastics.

I also tell my girls that no matter what happens at a meet, good or bad, that once we leave the meet nothing has changed. The snow will still be on the ground (because there is always snow here in meet season), you will still have to go to school and make your bed, your dog will still bark etc. Sometimes reassurance can help them to realize that it really doesn't matter one bit how they do (if that is the case, if not then you have bigger issues:D) in the grand scheme of life. It is supposed to be fun after all.
 
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msl529

Guest
To add our not-so-classy idea to the mix here...my DD says what helps her is to imagine the Judges in their underwear. I know, it's such an old trick, & would not work for me, but she really does it, and it really calms her down...I know, we're a bit odd in this family...:tongue:!
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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To add our not-so-classy idea to the mix here...my DD says what helps her is to imagine the Judges in their underwear. I know, it's such an old trick, & would not work for me, but she really does it, and it really calms her down...I know, we're a bit odd in this family...:tongue:!

I always knew we could be BFF. :p:D:cool:
 

gymmomntc2e6

Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
2,842
North Carolina
My DD gets pretty nervous too. Once she gets the first event over she seems much better.

Our HC sat everyone down before the first meet and said: "They will ALL fall off the beam" The kids were not there for that just the parents. And she was right, they all did. she tells the girls the story of her DD's (now a L8) first meet - she fell off the beam 5 times :eek: They really look up to here so I think it helps to know that she falls too and it's not a big deal. You just hop back on and keep going.

We try to make it a special day - she gets to pick where we go out to eat after, usually go w/ a teammates family as well. We also ask if she had fun first before we congratulate. We also tell her how proud we are of her and don't make any negative comments. It is the coaches job to coach and provide direction for improvement. It is our job to support her no matter how she does.

I also think that I was about as big of a wreck at her first meet as she was. I still get nervous but not as bad.
 
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msl529

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Tee-hee! Thanks, Bogwoppit! Good to know we are not the only twisted ones here............
:hyper: :upsidedown: :tongue: :rollingeyes: :raspberry: :fryingpan: :spin: :crazy: :cheeky:
 
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Explain to your daughter that the judges are not out to get her. They are not heartless bodies sitting behind the table. I am not a judge, but I have sat next to a few while working at meets. They REALLY are rooting for the girls to do well, it's just their job to mark the mistakes and score accordingly. I have heard some big sighs and groans come out of the judges when a girl has a tough time on an event. I'm sure they would love it if every girl could be perfect, every time. But how would the girls learn to grow if they were always told that they were perfect, even when they were not.

DD has gotten some low scores from judges when it appeared that her work was better, but she has learned that it is more important to feel good about her performance than to dwell on the scores. As long as she is happy with her performance GREAT! If she is not happy, then she knows that she needs to work a little harder on certain things.

Also, let your daughter know that other people ARE watching her and hoping that she does her best. There are a few out there who are probably doing the opposite, but those people are not worth wasting the energy needed to be concerned about them. My DD and I clap and cheer for every girl regardless of what team she is on. That's what GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP is all about. These kids have worked their tails off and deserve to be recognized in a POSITIVE way, whether they had a good day or a bad one.

OK...I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Good luck to your daughter this season. I bet once she gets out there she is going to shine!!:)
 
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vmom

Member
Feb 15, 2008
130
I concur with all the other advice posted here. The only things I say to my daughter on the day of a meet is to have fun and support her teammates. Oh, wait, I do tell her to think of it as just another day at practice. Then I die a thousand deaths in the stands during the routines!
Last year we started a couple of pre-meet rituals. We go get her hair done (because mom can't style hair at all) and then go to a local coffee shop for a treat (mocha for mom and Italian soda for dd). Going through the motions seems to help with the nerves a bit. Although I don't think being caffienated was such a great idea for me! And she has a couple of "good luck" bears that travel in her gym bag to every meet. After the meet we always go out for a special dinner- no matter what the scores. She also usually ends up with a sweatshirt, leo or pin as a souvenier.
It's been my experience that the judges are actually very nice. In our state they always smile when the girls salute and say "good job" or "thank you" at the end of the routine. Of course the judging is not always consistent. I try to have my daughter focus more on how her coaches thought she did, rather than the judges. After all, they are the ones that see all the improvements that occur all year!
The very first meet is so exciting. I wish you both the best of luck!!!
 
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TeamDad

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I think that I could take some of this advice myself. Last year, we had a meet a few hours from home and at the end, someone asked me if I could give one of the judges a ride back to NYC. As we drove along, it was very enlightening to find out that the judge was just a gymnastics enthusiast just like the rest of us. She traveled very far, it was a long day for her, and I can honestly say that she hadn't done it for money or fame:)
 
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