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Gymnastics/mental block, vault


My ten year old is in first season of competition and performs a front handspring or round off over the vault from a spring board.  She had an issue two weeks ago at an away meet...she ran up and did not vault, ran a second time, vaulted well and on the 3rd try stopped. She scored a 7.8 with just one successful try.  I'm told she really can't get higher than a 8.1 for that vault in this league.  Other scores in season around 7.5. Since that meet she has NOT been able to go over the vault.  She was running and stopping.  Now, she is running, jumping, but getting stuck in the stand stand.  per the coach she is not jumping well. She says there was something wrong with the away meet spring board, but is now having issues on her home board.  Biggest meet of year is this weekend.  Coach encouraging a private (which will be very difficult to schedule and may not happen) also, concerned about what will put more pressure on....I think coach is very concerned that if she faults she will put team score in jeopardy.  I just don't want my kid to feel bad and like she is hurting the team.  Daughter also has expressed a concern about not getting an all around score.  Should I peruse the private?  Or, just hope instinct kicks in?  She can perform this skill and she claims it's not fear. I've told her that I know she can do and will do it when she's ready...she wants private???  Any ideas?   This is the 11th hour literally.  THANKS!

Hello Leigh,
         I am very glad to help you.  I believe a creative private lesson would work well.  I would have the private not only be vault.  The private could be distracting if its only purpose is vault.  I believe you are trying to make vault a non issue event.  Working through the events like a meet might will help the distraction from the expectation.  I have to say there are many variables to introducing a phobic element.  I am sure her coach has wisdom and is willing to perceive some of the strategies.  One possibility is to practice a layout barani on the tramp.  This skill is similar to the round off in its action.  Obviously it takes more power to perform a barani……so the actual round off on vault would be easier.  I wish your daughter the very best and 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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