Mental Preparation For Competition
Some gymnasts have superstitions that they hold on to for their competitions. Some have to wear a certain leotard or eat a certain meal beforehand. Some even chose not to wash their “lucky” leotard, because they feel this takes away their good luck.
They feel if they don’t hold to these superstitions, they won’t perform well in competition.
There is some controversy about the effectiveness of superstitions…
Some feel that these superstitions help to boost the gymnast’s confidence and self-belief before competition. Some also think it’s just a weird habit and there is no research to show that they actually work.
Please note, that there is a difference between a pre-performance routine and a superstition.
A pre-performance routine is an exercise or routine that gets the gymnast into the correct state of mind for competition. A pre-performance routine may include listening to a certain song or visualizing their skill or routine beforehand.
A superstition is a single behavior that a gymnast adopts that is based on luck more than reason.
For example, at the 2012 Olympics, John Orozco carried a pink and blue dinosaur to the events as a good luck charm. He has been carrying that pink and blue dinosaur for many competitions because he feels he performs better if he has it. Or Danell Layva who needs a blue towel with stars to be able to focus and compete well; for him, a plain white towel won’t do.
These gymnasts believe that these rituals work for them. They think that because they have this good luck charm, they will perform better than they would without it.
Although superstitions can be odd, they aren’t always a bad thing. They can increase a gymnast’s confidence before a competition. “If it works, use it.”
If using a certain towel helps you to feel confident before a meet, then by all means, use it. Just don’t start relying on your superstitions to do well in competition. Realize that it takes more than a blue towel to be successful. Your success as a gymnast comes from your preparation and abilities. If it just came from a good luck charm, anyone could do it.
The best thing you can do, to do well in competition, is to develop mental preparation skills for before competition. Start using your warm-up, your visualizations, and your other mental strategies to improve your confidence before you set onto the mat.
Start increasing your mental toughness for gymnastics by ordering The Confident Gymnast Workbook and CD Program!