Developing Gymnastics Confidence
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics introduced a new snowboarding sport called Slope style. American Sage Kotsenburg was honored as the first to ever win gold in this new event. But an even more amazing story is that Sage won the competition by throwing a trick that he had never done before. That takes a lot of confidence and guts.
Most Olympians, especially gymnasts, train the same skills for years, they spend hours and hours perfecting their timing of the skill, they condition their muscles so they have the strength to perform the skill, and they spend years mentally preparing for the skill.
When it comes time to compete the skill they can relax, get in their zone and rely on their training to perform at the Olympic level. But in the biggest and most important competition of Sage’s life, he decided to go against all reason and throw a “1620 Japan Air Mute Grab” or what Sage named the “Holy Crail.”
When I was watching the competition I was dumbfounded that an Olympian would take such a big risk and try a new skill. It goes against everything that coaches and sports psychologists teach gymnasts.
I don’t know any coach or sports psychologist that would tell an athlete to hit a skill they had never thrown before. I don’t know a gymnast that would decide to throw a triple full for the first time ever in a competition.
Sage even said that it was a “bad idea at first, but it worked out.”
After to listening to the interviews Sage gave after he won gold, it seems like the reason he was able to pull off such an amazing and risky accomplishment was because of one simple thing. He believed that he could.
For gymnasts to compete at their best, here are a few key points that need to be in place.
Gymnasts need to have confidence, trust in themselves, relax, stop thinking and let their body do what it was trained to do. Sage trusted himself and once he started the skill he let his body do the work and didn’t let his mind stop him,
“I do really bad when I start over thinking things, so I try to have this laid back mellow mentality.”
Sage said that he didn’t know he was going to throw the skill until three minutes before hand. He didn’t have time to psych himself out, he didn’t have time to doubt himself, and once he decided that he was going to throw the skill he didn’t have time to back out. Sage decided that he was going to throw the trick and he was committed.
This type of commitment is what can help gymnasts perform at their peak.
Although, we don’t recommend trying out a brand new skill/trick at competition, we do recommend that you work on your confidence in Gymnastics.
Here are some ways you can improve your confidence before stepping up to the mat:
- Focus on the skill you are going to perform. Don’t over think it but remember how you mastered it in practice.
- Don’t focus on the things that could go wrong, focus on what you learned in practice and all the things that have gone right.
- Learn to brush off mistakes and keep going.
- Remind yourself of all the hard work and commitment you’ve put into gymnastics. And how that has made you into the skilled gymnast you are today.
Gymnasts that can perform in practice but have trouble performing in competition usually doubt themselves, hold back, over think, perform cautiously, or they hesitate before they perform their skills. This doubt can be the difference between landing the skills and winning a competition or falling.
Luckily everything worked out for Sage and he was able to bring home a gold medal. Even though I am sure that Sage’s risky choice isn’t regularly done in Olympic sports, it does teach us a great lesson. You have to believe in yourself and go for it.
Contact us to learn more about how to boost your confidence and go for it in competition.