How to Cope With Distractions And Focus Better

Gymnastic Psychology

How Oklahoma Sooners Cope With Distractions

Tuning into distractions can ruin the opportunity to nail your gymnastics routine.

Many gymnasts talk about how they consistently hit their routines in practice then, all of a sudden, miss landings, bobble on the beam, slip off the bars or under-perform when it matters most.

These gymnasts often blame performance anxiety for their inability to perform.

While it is true that anxiety takes you out of your game, the direct cause of anxiety is thinking ahead about the what ifs.

Here’s a story of how distraction affects performance…

Ava F. is a level 6 gymnast who loves practice and consistently hits her routines…

Ava performs her round-off, back handspring, back tuck practically flawless. Everything changes for Ava in competitions.

Ava’s floor routine becomes riddled with mistakes. Ava’s mind runs wild with doubts and fears, so much so, that she has difficulty remembering her routine.

One deduction leads to another and she becomes frustrated in her string of low scores. Ava’s predominant thought is, “I will never be able to hit my routine in competition.”

You can’t enjoy gymnastics when negativity and anxiety control you and affect your routines.

Gymnasts who under-perform in competition are usually at a loss to find a solution to this dilemma.

Oklahoma University Women’s gymnastics has been firing on all cylinders this season. The No. 1 Sooners recently achieved their third best-score in school history grabbing a first-place finish at the 2017 GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitational.

The Sooners beat three top-15 squads, No. 2 LSU, No. 10 Georgia and No. 15 Missouri and snatched the title. The Sooners held nothing back and were aggressive from the very first rotation which set the tone for the rest of the competition.

OU head coach K.J. Kindler talked about how the team’s record performance hinged on the team’s ability to focus and totally immerse themselves in each routine.

KINDLER: “There were zero distractions tonight. Each event seemed to build and the team was so relaxed. I felt such a strong confidence from them, the feeling you get when something magical is about to happen.”

The Sooners’ “zero distraction” mindset was a matter of choice. It’s your choice to tune into distractions for focus on what’s important…

When you immerse yourself in the moment, one skill at a time, distractions are minimal. Being in the present moment places you in a distraction-free zone, allowing you to perform your best.

Or you can chose to focus on the crowd, scores, fear, past mistakes, negative thoughts or what others might think about how you perform a routine. These distractions and worry undermines your confidence and trust.

Most athletes don’t separate distractions from what’s important to their routines.

How to Let Go of Distractions

First, you need to know that focus is a choice. That is great news for you because when your mind starts to drift, you have the power to change your focus…

First, always focus on what you want to happen, rather than what you fear might happen.

Second, understand what performance cues will help you perform each routine–define these with the help of your coach.

Next, be aware of your top distractions–so you can refocus when your mind starts to wander.

The key is to lock your mind into your mental choreography or performance cues. Don’t try to block out distractions. You only bring them more into your mind.

If you get out of your mental routine, stop, regroup, and refocus on the next skill.

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What All Gymnasts Must Know to Overcome Perfectionism

Are you a perfectionist? What is your mindset when performing?
Here you’ll learn:
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What are our mental coaching students saying?

“It was amazing!!! Before the show, I really felt like I was becoming the part. I was oddly calm, which concerned me because I thought my nerves might kick in on stage!  But, they didn’t!  I stayed focused in each moment, and remained calm, and actually did the difficult tricks better than I ever have!  My coaches were all so proud of me and the one who I know the best was marveling at my calm, poised manner throughout the ballet.  They said it seemed like I was doing it for the 15th time, I looked so comfortable. This is the result of my work with you! You gave me the tools to tackle this huge mountain of a role, step by step!  I am beyond happy!”
~Professional Ballerina, Student of Dr. Cohn in 2013

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