Overcoming Disappointment With Mental Toughness

Gymnast Psychology

Turn Disappointment into Mental Toughness

As a gymnast, you will have your share of ups and downs. Consider your gymnastics career to be like a roller coaster ride…

The peaks are exciting as you learn new skills, reach new heights athletically and attain new achievements. Along the way, you will also have disappointments, such as injuries, mistakes and losses.

How you handle the disappointments will be key in determining how quickly you rebound and move forward.

Lexie Priessman is a senior U.S. gymnast who has experienced the highs and lows of being a competitive athlete.

In 2011, Priessman was the U.S. junior national champion on vault and then became the 2012 U.S. junior national all-around and floor champion. Priessman was excited as she prepared for her first season as a Senior Elite gymnast. However, Priessman was unable to compete at the P&G Gymnastics Championships in 2013 due to torn ligaments in her toe that required surgery in August.

Despite the injury, Priessman relied on her positive attitude to help her manage her emotions and maintain her focus throughout the recovery process,

“I was pretty upset at Championships knowing that the World Championships weren’t going to work out and that I had to have surgery but I’m so happy for all of [the girls who competed at Worlds this year] and I wish I could have been there with them! I think that it just wasn’t my time.”

As any gymnast knows, an injury can greatly affect your ability to train and learn new skills.

A gymnast needs that mentality to “go for it” in training and an injury can affect your ability to take risks while adversely affecting your confidence. Injuries can also affect your confidence to return to a prior level of performance before the injury. It’s easy to start doubting your career in gymnastics.

Despite the disappointment of injury and surgery, Priessman chose to focus on what she could do. Priessman committed to using her time to improve in other areas.

“I already feel like I’ve gotten stronger from this, I’ve learned a lot of how to work through injuries, and my flexibility was really awful before this. I’ve worked so hard on my flexibility, so hopefully I can have switch rings in my routines!” To help with the recovery process and ease the disappointment of injury, Priessman has stayed motivated and focused on her goals “to go to the Olympics and make Worlds teams.”

Priessman is a great role model for gymnasts experiencing hardships and demonstrates some successful strategies on handling disappointments.

Strategies to handle disappointments:

  1. Keep your mind on the goal – You should realize that disappointment is a temporary detour as you journey toward your destination.
  2. Focus on the positive – You must figure out how to best utilize your time and training to help achieve your goals.
  3. Manage your emotions effectively – You can allow yourself to be disappointed briefly, but refocus your efforts on the future and setting new positive goals.

For more information and tips on mental training, check out our The Confident Gymnast workbook program.

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