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Gymnastics/10 year awesome daughter has had multiple mental blocks



I have a 10 year old daughter who is a cheerleader but she has a running backhandspring, layout, layout step out and full.  Evey time we get to the full she ends up with a mental block and will throw it consistently and beautifully for a month and then all of a sudden she starts running slow and then before you know it she will not even throw a tuck.   What do we do to stop this pattern?    She will throw all the standing tumbling in the world even working on a standing full and a double.   Should I be worried that this keeps happening or is this normal?   I have been making her write down one good thing she does every practice.  But, she always seems to resort to negativity you can tell her how pretty she flew or how pretty something is and she will tell you why she sucked and how she always sucks and she is no good.  She claims she does not know why she wont throw her skills and she seems pumped up to go to practice and then comes out so defeated her coaches are awesome and they dont say anything negative to her.  How do I get a 10 year old to understand that she is talking herself out of her skills?    She is such an awesome talented girl who claims she wants to grow up to be a cheer coach, how do I help her be successful and get throw these mental blocks and is there ever a time when I should be concerned that she has had too many?



Hello Bactgirl,
         I am very glad to help you.  FEAR usually comes from becoming unfamiliar with a familiar skill, element or trick.  It can also come from your first introduction of a new skill or finally from a bad fall from an old skill.  Here's what I suggest.  
1.  You must follow your hard work with patience and focus.
2.  You must have an optimistic attitude which is extremely important.  
3.  Also, never set a time limit for achieving your objectives.  Patience, desire and determination are the keys.  You will ACHIEVE!...but don’t set a date.  Everyone learns at different rates so respect that.
4.  Being able to visualize the skill you have trouble with is quite important to owning the skill.  Owning  a skill means “if the skill feels wrong when you perform it…..and it is wrong….than you can change it”  Being able to change it or coach yourself….means you “own” the skill.
5.  Take the skill you are having trouble with and have your coach break the skill back down to basics.  The more progressional steps the better.  This also allows more goals to achieve and builds up your confidence along the way.  Do not skip any steps!  Each step is quite necessary in healing emotionally.    Do not do the skill you are nervous about until you have followed the steps I have listed.  When you get the skill back, you will own it!
6.  Repetition removes doubt.  Finally, always touch base with skills that may potentially cause you future problems.  Regarding repetition….imagine you just got the courage to ride the scary new roller coaster ride at the amusement park.  Okay, you got on it and screamed and had a great time……now imagine 40 repetitions of that ride…..the excitement seems to go away a little and the ride begins to become more predictable.  Yeah….now relate that to the trouble tricks.
I wish your daughter the best successes and a bright fun future.  Take Care – Jack Leonard  


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Jack Leonard


Former 5 time Natl. Tumbling Champ, 3 time Natl. Vaulting Champ, Natl. Floor Exercise Champ; Ass`t coach of Dominique Dawes for 6 years; Owner/Director/Head coach of Kauai Gymnastics Academy on the island of Kauai in Hawaii; Retired Physical Ed teacher; Childrens Fitness Expert; Expert Consultant for gymnastics litigation; Retired Mens & Womens HS Gymnastics coach for 32 years. National coaching honors for Men in 1981 & Women in 2001.


I value the following awards because they were given by acknowlegement through my peers: The Nissen/Grissold Award given to the outstanding Tumbling and Tramp Athlete(1972), National High School coach of the year in 1981 for men and 2001 for women, 10 time County Coach of the Year. Medal Award given at the first World Tumbling Championships in London, England for dedication to the sport. Lastly, having the opportunity to coach Wes Suter(1988 Olympian)in his intermediate years and Dominique Dawes(1992 & 1996)

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