Welcome to our Gymnastics Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

Performance Anxiety - How to help

Mom2KM

New Member
Proud Parent
May 24, 2019
3
41
Country
USA
New here, and looking for some suggestions on how to help my nearly 7 year old work through some performance anxiety. He is still early on as he is just entering L3 this summer, but get really nervous in front of crowds. He says that he knows what skills he's supposed to be doing and knows he can do them well, but forgets or messes them up because he is nervous with everyone looking at him. Is this something that gets better as he gets more confident naturally, or is there something I can do to help him along? He loves gymnastics, and I don't want him to shy away from advancing because of performance anxiety.
 

tpMom

Member
Proud Parent
Dec 8, 2016
202
36
Country
USA
It's got to be hard on little ones who are competing for the first time. It's a ton of pressure and a ton of attention. My gymmie never had stage fright in the gym or elsewhere, but her sister gets sick with nerves before every elementary school performance.

One thing that has helped her, and might help your kiddo, is for me to remind her that everyone watching her is cheering for her and hoping she does well and has fun. The crowds she's performing to are parents, just like me, who love all of the kids and want everyone to feel good and have fun.

While that may be more or less true for your son, depending on the parents in your session, I imagine that if he walks out thinking it's true it'll feel true to him.

It also might not hurt to remind him that a lot of his judges are parents and grandparents too! They have to score him, but they're rooting for him to do his best! We read the attached article a few years ago and it really helped my daughter's perspective on her judges. https://www.google.com/amp/s/annejosephson.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-gymnastics-judges-according-to-an-actual-judge/amp/
 

Mom2KM

New Member
Proud Parent
May 24, 2019
3
41
Country
USA
It's got to be hard on little ones who are competing for the first time. It's a ton of pressure and a ton of attention. My gymmie never had stage fright in the gym or elsewhere, but her sister gets sick with nerves before every elementary school performance.

One thing that has helped her, and might help your kiddo, is for me to remind her that everyone watching her is cheering for her and hoping she does well and has fun. The crowds she's performing to are parents, just like me, who love all of the kids and want everyone to feel good and have fun.

While that may be more or less true for your son, depending on the parents in your session, I imagine that if he walks out thinking it's true it'll feel true to him.

It also might not hurt to remind him that a lot of his judges are parents and grandparents too! They have to score him, but they're rooting for him to do his best! We read the attached article a few years ago and it really helped my daughter's perspective on her judges. https://www.google.com/amp/s/annejosephson.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-gymnastics-judges-according-to-an-actual-judge/amp/
I did remind him that everyone who was there watching will be excited for him no matter what, and that for a lot of the other boys this is new to them too, so he should just go and have fun and do his best. Thankfully, we have great coaches who while they can be tough, are also super encouraging with lots of high fives and smiles for them once they get done with their routines. It's just funny because he is such an outgoing kid, but put him out there alone on the floor especially, and you can just see the nerves. He did much better when he was on events away from where everyone was sitting. I think part of it is he is a born perfectionist, and when he doesn't get something right that he knows he can because of his nerves, he is hard on himself and gets frustrated. Hopefully, with some time and some encouragement he can get over the hump with this. He is excited to try L3 this summer (even though he is missing a couple L2 skills), and I want him to be successful and not let his nerves slow him down doing something he enjoys.
 

Gymx2

Active Member
Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
551
Country
USA
I've actually told my daughter kind of the opposite about crowds- that most of the people aren't really focused on her, but are watching their own kids, and that there is so much going on at once it's not like most of the audience is paying attention to her. This works for her, although she does still get nervous before competitions. Once she's competing she is fine. DS, OTOH, doesn't seem to get nervous at all at this point and will tell me things like, "I'm going to go out there and kill it today!":D Hope he always has that confidence!
 

tpMom

Member
Proud Parent
Dec 8, 2016
202
36
Country
USA
I've actually told my daughter kind of the opposite about crowds- that most of the people aren't really focused on her, but are watching their own kids, and that there is so much going on at once it's not like most of the audience is paying attention to her. This works for her, although she does still get nervous before competitions. Once she's competing she is fine. DS, OTOH, doesn't seem to get nervous at all at this point and will tell me things like, "I'm going to go out there and kill it today!":D Hope he always has that confidence!
This is actually probably much more accurate than my advice (which was geared towards my non gymmie performaning in a school play)!
 

Lilou

Member
Proud Parent
Apr 11, 2016
197
Country
USA
Some of the things that have helped for us are to remember that only a handful of people are actually watching her, they're watching their own kids otherwise. We also explained the part of her brain that causes her fear (fight, flight or freeze) and gave it a name. Now, she talks back to it... saying, "I got this, you don't need to worry." That has been a great help. We also talk about at meets to just do what she's been practicing, not to stretch and try harder, not to try less- just do what she's practiced.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jard.the.gymnast

OrchidZ

Member
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
May 4, 2018
72
Country
USA
Some of the things that have helped for us are to remember that only a handful of people are actually watching her, they're watching their own kids otherwise.
Or their phones.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lilou

Mom2KM

New Member
Proud Parent
May 24, 2019
3
41
Country
USA
We have talked about it a bit, and he did mention he thinks he will be more comfortable next time. He said he is happy he did it even though he made mistakes, but he isn't happy he scored low on rings because that's what he is best at. LoL. I'm just happy he is doing something he enjoys, and working through his nerves. He really wants to be part of the boys team, and I know it would frustrate him if the only thing holding him back is that he gets nervous. On to L3 (and a new coach) for us after a week break!!
 

ldw4mlo

Well-Known Member
Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
5,411
59
Country
USA
I've actually told my daughter kind of the opposite about crowds- that most of the people aren't really focused on her, but are watching their own kids, and that there is so much going on at once it's not like most of the audience is paying attention to her. This works for her, although she does still get nervous before competitions. Once she's competing she is fine. DS, OTOH, doesn't seem to get nervous at all at this point and will tell me things like, "I'm going to go out there and kill it today!":D Hope he always has that confidence!
This is us. The reality is most folks are there to see their family member, gym team. So we would tell her not to sweat it, its just like a busier practice.

For mine it also helped there are other events going at the same time she is, so she gets not every one is looking at her. The one time I think a meet got to her was when their last event got backed up and she was literally the last kid of the whole meet to go. That didn't go well.

Time, really, time is what will help the most.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mom2KM