Competitive Anxiety in Gymnasts

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My gymnasts  recently had their first competition in a couple of months. I was surprised for a group of 9 – 11 year olds how incredibly calm they were, compared to the teenage girls who competed a few weekends previously who fell to pieces before and after their routines. Despite having a successful enough competition we had a few mess ups i.e forgetting a beam routine half way through or dismounting on the wrong side of the beam, but still no tears. I think that I am actually more nervous than the girls are. Of course, I can’t let that show.

John Geddert posted today about Competitive Anxiety, something I see all too many times in competition. At that same competition I saw a girl from another club crying her eyes out, sobbing, hyper ventilating because she didn’t want to compete. She was looking at other girls she was competing against during warm up, beating herself up thinking that she wasn’t good enough to beat them. At the end of the day, we saw the gymnast up on first place on the podium collecting her gold medal!

 

As John says “competitive anxiety can be crippling for some athletes“. He cites the following factors as contributors to competitive anxiety:

 

  • Nervous Nelly Personality
  • Lack of preparation
  • Outside influences
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of injury
  • Fear of repercussions
  • Unproductive Use of Warm Up Time

It’s an interesting read and something I can think can be expanded on. I’ve found as the girls get older, they definitely get more emotional which is natural as their bodies are changing and hormones can become crazy. The World of Gymnastics has posted some tips on coping with competitive anxiety.

 

Gymnasts do you have any advice for fellow gymnasts on how to deal with anxiety?

Coaches do you have any advice for gymnasts or fellow coaches on how to deal with anxiety in the gym?

If you have anything to say please leave a comment below.

 

**Update** Alicia Sacramone today posted a new blog post on the USA Gymnastics website about dealing with fear

2 Comments

  1. Stacie says:

    I always tell my Gymnasts, ‘it’s only a competition.’ At the end of the day they are doing this for fun! It’s not a paid job and there’s not a life or death situation at the end of it!
    My girls just aim to compete 4 pieces and show what they have been doing in training. And they’ve had their fair share of medals at the end of it!

  2. Admin says:

    That’s true Stacie. Some of the girls in the gym get so panicked about competitions that it’s just crazy and end up affect their whole team if it’s a team event . You’re right, it’s not a paid job (I wish!!!!) and they are doing it for fun. We had an in house competition a couple of months ago and some of the girls fell to pieces competed in a friendly against their own friends! crazy!

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