Supporting Competitive Gymnasts
Gymnastics provides a platform for individuals to take part in physical activity, learn new skills, whilst challenging themselves and making new friends along the way. One of the many features of our sport is the opportunity to take part in competitions.
As with all other sports, sometimes gymnastics can be tough, so we have put together some quick points to help parents support their child.
The demands of performance gymnastics
Training for performance gymnastics can be hard both physically and mentally. Training and competitions can take a lot of commitment alongside personal and school life. If you feel that your child might be feeling the pressure of these demands, here are some tips on steps you can take to support them:
- If you feel that the pressure is becoming too much on your child, tell someone. This could be the personal coach, club head coach or club welfare officer.
- It is important we create an environment where this can be discussed with the gymnasts, family and club. If a gymnast is struggling, they will not be performing at their best
- Everyone has days when they are not on top form, if your child had a bad competition / practice session, support them to try not to dwell on it and focus the learning and next opportunities
- Gymnasts should not compare their development to others, everyone learns in different ways and will develop at different times. Support the gymnast to focus on their own personal journey
- If your child is not selected for a squad, help them to understand the process and what they can do in the future
Competing in gymnastics competitions may cause extra nerves in your child where they may feel worried, stressed or uneasy. They can experience nerves before, during or after the competition which is normal, and can help performance if managed appropriately.
Some tips to help your child can include:
- Remind them to breathe slowly
- Slow down and think about their routines and performance
- Not to focus on negative past performances and solely on the competition today
- Think about techniques you can use to support them at the event that helps them feel grounded
Dealing with failure
Through taking part in gymnastics an individual will experience a variety of emotions including failure. This can be because of frustrations with a certain skill or a competition experience. Even the most successful gymnasts in the world will have experienced failure in their lifetime. One of the best ways to deal with failure is to treat it as a learning opportunity, through adopting a growth-mindset.
One way you can support your child is to provide them with distractions from the competition and talk about other things or if your child wants to talk about it, allow them to open up about their feelings and how would they like you to support them. Support them to think about how to have conversations with their coach and create targets for future competitions.
What to do if thinking about stopping
It is very common for gymnasts to consider stepping back from competitive gymnastics, especially when they are faced with additional pressures. Your child should never feel under pressure from anyone to carry on if they are not enjoying taking part. If anyone does push for your child to continue, take the time to hold discussions to understand each other’s suggestions.
Even if your child no longer wants to take part competitively, gymnastics still has a lot to offer in different disciplines, recreational gymnastics, as well as coaching and judging qualifications. More information can be found here.