Performing Aggressively in Gymnastics
When you hear the word “mistake,” what thoughts pop up in your head? What types of emotions stir within you?
Most likely, you have a strong negative reaction when you hear the word “mistakes.”
Coaches and gymnasts alike make frequent statements such as, “We made a lot of dumb mistakes,” “Mistakes killed us today,” or, “We can’t continue making the same mistakes.”
Rarely, do you hear a coach use the term “good mistakes.”
You might think, “Why would anyone label mistakes as good?”
Well, how you view mistakes will affect your mindset and whether you fully commit to going for your routines.
To illustrate this point, follow this example:
Lauren H. seeks to avoid mistakes at all costs and not just at meets. Lauren H. is so nervous to make mistakes that she holds back in practices.
Inevitably, she makes some mistakes during training and she beats herself up after every mistake. This verbal self-assault fosters even more apprehension and further cements her negative view of mistakes.
In meets, the only thing Lauren can think of is trying to not make a mistake instead of just going “all in” on her routine. The result is that she under-performed just like her last meet which just lead to more frustration, anxiety and confidence problems.
The best way to compete and score high on your routines is to be aggressive and fully commit to each trick and skill. Committing requires that you re-evaluate your mindset about mistakes.
If you adopt a more positive view of mistakes, you can change your mindset and the way you compete. If you let go of that overly negative connotation about mistakes, you will be more apt to take the necessary risks to nail your routine.
Cal Berkeley women’s gymnastics head coach Justin Howell makes a distinction between good mistakes and bad mistakes.
Howell is not bothered by his gymnasts making mistakes as long as they are aggressive. Howell has sold his team on his philosophy regarding mistakes which has helped his team produce in high-pressure meets.
The Bears entered the 2017 season opening meet, the NorCal Classic with an aggressive “go-for-it” mindset rather than worrying about mistakes.
The Bears came out of the gate extremely strong on vault, scoring 9.75 or above on every individual routine but had difficulty on the next rotation, the bars.
Despite a couple of falls on the bars, the Bears won the meet for their third NorCal Classic title in three years.
Howell was impressed with his team’s aggressiveness but that aggressiveness is a direct result of not fearing mistakes.
HOWELL: “Their mistakes were good mistakes. They were doing big, aggressive gymnastics, and that’s what I like to see.”
Take your gymnastics to a new level.
Challenge what you believe to be true about mistakes. Start going for it. It is easier to overcome a couple of mistakes than it is to overcome a negative mindset.
Challenge your fear of making mistakes:
Some mistakes are a clear sign that you are going for it, being aggressive or trying new things. When you compete with an aggressive style, you can uncover more of your potential.
Ask yourself, “Is it more important for me to make fewer mistakes or achieve more of my potential?”
The latter mindset is positive and forces you to focus in the present on what you want to happen.
As Muhammad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
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~Professional Ballerina, Student of Dr. Cohn in 2013
What All Gymnasts Must Know to Overcome Perfectionism
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~Sarah, US National Aerobic Gymnastics Team