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Gymnastics/Backhandspring Fear

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My daughter has been cheering for the past seven years. She loves to cheer but realizes that tumbling is now a part of that. She has been in gymnastics for 7 years as well. She has a beautiful backhandspring and round off backhandspring and at one time was doing both of them by herself. The last three years she has regressed; meaning she has a major mental block or fear. She has to have a spot. She continuously works on overcoming this fear/mental block but nothing seems to be helping. When is it time to give up or do we keep on trying. I'm beginning to feal as if she will not overcome her fear. She gets extremely frustrated with herself but says she knows what to do, but when ask to do the backhandspring by herself she panics. How can I help? What should she do or is it time to give up?

Answer
Hello Tori,
         I am very glad to help you.  FYI, I have helped fix many situations similar as your daughters.  Here is the strategy.  Two ways to approach the mental block are as follows….
One:  Go back to basics and perform many progressions to get your senses and awareness.  For Example:  Perform back limber to a kick over, back walk over, bridge kick over etc.  During the process, do not do the back handspring.  The idea is that you are not doing the back handspring but similar elements.
Two:  Perform a whip back instead of the back handspring and only perform it in other places not in tumbling. Example….on a trampoline, on a tramp trak, off a spring board onto a landing mat (standing), handstand snap down from a higher surface to a mini-tramp then do the whip back or back layout…but remember…do not perform it on the floor which would be similar to the round off back handspring.
The trick in owning the back handspring again is not to practice it.  The mind needs to clear itself of the phobia.  Once the mind believes there is no pressure and has cleared itself…..performing it again will once again be no problem.  Patience in this process is important.  I know I have not been there….but I would not train the trick that has problems.  This just reinforces the potential phobia.  Phobias are mental, not physical.  We know your daughter is strong and can perform it well.   The problem is the way her mind perceives the trick.  If you trick your mind it clears your mind and then you are back on the original track.  I hope I have helped you to understand where I am coming from and will be able to make some good decisions towards her recovering her skills back.  I have trained this phobia and it works.  Similar phobias are also fixable doing the same methods or strategies.  Finally, it is quite important that you do not set a date for your daughters accomplishments.  That aspect of goal setting can create and maintain the phobia she has.  I wish your daughter the best –
Take Care – Jack Leonard

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Jack Leonard

Expertise

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.

Experience

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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