Focusing on Your Routine to Overcome Distractions
Distractions are EVERYWHERE in gymnastics, which makes winning the mental battle more difficult than the battle against other gymnasts.
When you compete, your head is full of thoughts pulling you in many directions:
- Your last routine
- Your last competition
- The other gymnasts you are up against
- Your overall score
- Your team’s score
- Your rivals
- Fear of falling
- Fear of failing
- Disappointing your coach
- Disappointing your parents
- Letting down your teammates
- Mistakes earlier in the competition
- Performing in an unfamiliar environment
- Negative self-talk
- Coming back after an injury
- Unfavorable scoring, etc.
All these distractions are battling for your attention, but in order to perform your best, you need to focus on one thing… your routine.
This mental battle for your attention can feel a bit overwhelming…
How in the world can you focus with all these competing distractions in your mind?
First, it is important to understand that most distractions come from your own thinking patterns.
Take, for example, the potential distraction of the crowd…
You may have thoughts such as:
- “The crowd is very loud and disruptive.”
- “My friends came too watch me today.”
- “The crowd will laugh if I fall.”
- “A college coach is here to recruit me today.”
These external distractions can turn into internal distractions when you give them energy.
Instead, you can choose to focus on productive thoughts, “Breathe deep,” “I’ve nailed this routine all week in practice,” or, “Focus on the routine.”
Secondly, you are in control of your focus.
The use of cue words is one effective method elite gymnasts use to stay focused in the present moment, immerse themselves in their routine or block out distractions.
Cue words are mental reminders that help you stay focused on what you need to do. They can be turned into a mental choreography of your routine.
Often, these cue words are a shortened version of an instruction your coach gave you in practice. For example, you might use to cue word ‘push’ to remind yourself to push over the top on your aerial or ‘stick’ as a reminder to stick your landing.
The University of Utah women’s gymnastics team had a very successful 2018 season and many of the gymnasts credit the use of cue words for helping them stay focused and perform.
Utah senior, Maddy Stover, who battled shoulder injuries all year, employed an effective method to improve her focus over the course of the year.
STOVER: “When I do my balance beam routine, you’ll see my mouth moving. That’s because I’m talking myself through my skills. I’m staying focused in on what I am doing and not paying attention to any external distractions.”
Another Utah senior, Kari Lee, effectively utilized cue words to win the battle over distractions and sharpen her competitive focus.
LEE: “When your adrenaline hits in the moment of a meet, everything is chaotic. Everything hits you at once and you can get kind of scattered. We have our cue words that we say to ourselves when we are in a tough environment, words that we can focus and really rely on.”
Just like the Utah gymnasts, you need to win the mental battle first, before you can win the battle on the mat.
How to Overcome Distractions
Shorten the instructions your coach gives you in practice into a cue word or mental choreography of your routine.
Cue words are most effective if they consist of 1-2 words per skill. Try not to over think your skills in competition.
Be aware of your most common distractions–so you can refocus.
Practice your mental choreography in training sessions so you can retrain your mind to focus on your routine rather than the distractions.
If you control your focus, you will be in control of your performance in competition.
Get all my strategies for a focused mind with The Confident Gymnast audio and workbook program:
Learn Mental Game Secretes to Unstoppable Confidence in Gymnastics!
Are you ready to improve your mental toughness and perform with ultimate self-confidence in competition?
Check out The Confident Gymnast Program!
The Confident Gymnast CD and workbook program was developed not only by Dr. Cohn, but with the assistance of former gymnast Olympian Wendy Bruce.
The Confident Gymnast is ideal for any competitive gymnast. But not only do gymnasts benefit from the program, coaches and parents do as well!
- Gymnasts: Get the mental edge by learning how to take control of their confidence, mentally prepare for competition, and preform with composure under pressure
- Parents: Help boost your athletes’ performance. Don’t let their mind hold them back any longer!
- Coaches: Boost your gymnasts’ confidence using simple, proven mental strategies.
- Mental Coaches: Learn a proven system for helping your athletes boost mental toughness.
The Confident Gymnast is a complete brain dump of the TOP 8 mental training sessions we teach our gymnasts to help them boost their mental game and improve consistency- from how to mentally prepare for competition to performing under pressure to building unstoppable confidence.
Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our mental coaching students and parents saying?
“I enjoyed ‘The Confident Athlete’ very much. I particularly liked the format, the ease of the program, and the 2 CDs that accompanied the workbook – 10-20 minutes a day was simple to adhere to and put in my busy schedule. I love the part about confidence with grace, and what I want to portray and feel the minute I step foot into Los Angeles for nationals. I love the affirmations, the relaxation techniques, and just the entire perspective of the program.”
~Sarah, US National Aerobic Gymnastics Team