The Mental Block Breakthrough!
Most of the articles written about getting over mental blocks use the same strategies. If you haven’t read any previous articles before reading this, I suggest you read For the Love of tumbling blog on mental blocks. This is one of my favorite articles, it is very detailed and gives amazing advice http://fortheloveoftumbling.com/tag/mental-blocks/. Although this article is one of my favorites, the techniques are global and followed by many sports psychologist and mental toughness trainers.
Katie came to me as a last resort. She had been battling her mental block on a standing tuck for a year and a half and it was to the point where it was effecting her life out of the gym. When I first met Katie, she and her mom introduced her to me as a “mental case”. When I asked Katie to tell me about her cheer life, she told me that she was a “head case and that she always freaked out on her tumbling”. I found it sad that the first thing that Katie and her mom said to me was all the bad things. I wanted to know what gym she competed for, her level, how long she had been in cheer, what were her plans for the future, or what was the name of her team. But at that time all the emphasis on her cheer life was focussed on was the negative.
Katie’s mental block was so extreme that whenever she thought about doing a standing tuck her stomach would get queasy, her hands would sweat, and she was so filled with anxiety that she couldn’t think straight. On days that she had tumbling lessons she would over think and stress to the point that the ride to the gym would already have her queasy, sweaty, and jittery.
Katie was my favorite kind of client. She was on the extreme side of having a mental block, but she was also very dedicated and wanted it gone. We started with her self-talk. It was saddening to hear what she thought about herself. When I asked her to list the top five statements that describe herself in cheer, they were 1. Mental case 2. Nervous 3. Loner 4. Flexible 5. Average. Out of the five things she listed, only one was positive. We had to get Katie to change the way she saw herself. After all if she saw herself as a nervous and average mental case then it made sense that she couldn’t throw skills. Nervous and average mental cases don’t overcome fears.
We came up with a new list. 1.Strong 2. Powerful 3. Unbreakable 4. Flexible 5. Determined. Katie was a strong and powerful girl and she was determined to work through her fear. And after all she had been through, she was still standing tall and moving forward and yes, she was unbreakable. After time Katie learned how to see herself in a different light. She slowly became a warrior. She wanted to get over the mental block and she worked hard at the way she thought about herself; she changed her self-talk, she got rid of expectations, she stopped believing her irrational thoughts, and she learned how to control her emotions. We worked for weeks on making tumbling fun. We retrained her so that she felt excitement and joy when she thought of tumbling not associating tumbling with doom. After a month Katie learned to love coming to practice and looked forward to overcoming her standing tuck.
The day Katie threw her tuck for the first time was a day that changed her life. Katie walked into the gym a different kid; she was happy and optimistic. She declared that she was finished with letting fear control her like. She waned to she fear that she was in control. Katie was ready, she turned to me and said, “I want to throw this on my own, I don’t need help.” I stepped back and let her take her turn. She stood to the side and visualized herself doing the tuck, she said her mental cues, she took her three deep breaths and then she stepped into place. I could see in her eyes that she was serious. She had a stare that could cut through someones heart. She was in attack mode. She slowly counted to three, then she counted to three again, then one more time, and then I saw the look in her eyes change to defeat and I could tell that she wasn’t going to go. I pulled her aside and asked what happened. She said that when she walked into place she was sure she was going to go, and then it was like she just hit a wall. After she hit the wall she knew it was over. She said that when she hit the wall it was like all of her drive, passion, and confidence was depleted.
Katie tried to throw her tuck about three more times and each time she hit a wall. At this point Katie was getting frustrated and started feeling like a failure. “I want to throw it so bad, why won’t I go? I say all the right things to myself and I visualize making it, so why isn’t it working?” I smiled and told her it was working. She was now in a place where she was wanting to throw the tuck. She was in a place where she believed she could throw it.
“So how do I break through the wall?” she asked.
Ah-ha, the magic question. How do you let yourself go for a skill? How do you know you are going to let yourself do all the right things to make sure you land on your feet? So I asked her “Do you trust yourself? Do you think you are good enough to get over your fear? Do you think you deserve to get over your fear? Are you ready to get rid of the label you have been living under for the past year and half? Are you ready to be a warrior, a fighter?” Katie thought about my questions and realized that letting herself do her tuck actually meant more than just a tuck. It meant that she was believed in herself. It meant that she wanted good things for herself and it meant that she believed that she deserved them. She answered “YES! I deserve this!”
We knew that she was going to hit a wall but we also knew that was going to be the end. When she hit the wall was going to mark the beginning. The beginning of a battle, the battle between good and bad, fear and confidence, weakness and power, and she had to fight through until the end. When she hit the wall was when she needed to find the power to fight on. When she felt depleted was when she needed to rise back up and fight. When she felt like she lost, that was when she needed to battle and fight through. The wall wasn’t the end, but just another challenge and one she could win. Katie was excited to know that she could breakthrough the wall. She knew it was coming and she was ready.
Katie got ready to try one more time. She had the look in her eyes again, she visualized herself doing the tuck, she said her mental cues, she took her three deep breaths and then she stepped into place. She slowly counted to three, she counted to three again, and again, and again, she hit a wall, she stopped, took a deep breath, and she turned into a warrior. I could see it in her eyes, the look was back. It was a look that said she was going to fight, she was going to battle, and she was going to win. It was a glossy eyed stare that looked fierce and strong. She looked angry and mad and like she was in control. She took one last breath and began her fight. She started to swing her arms and then stopped, started again, and again. She counted to three one more time and this time when she started to swing her arms she didn’t stop. She was winning the battle, she was fighting, she was strong, she was unbreakable, and as she jumped and pulled her legs around, she screamed. It was if she was screaming at her fear. It was a scream that told that fear that it was dead. It was a scream that sounded like a determined, powerful, unbreakable, and warrior. She landed on her feet. And as she stood on the other side of the wall she knew that she could win anything and everything worth fighting for.
awesome post bro, i enjoyed it:)
My name is Katie too!! but I have a mental block on running tucks. I’ll tell you a little about my history of mental blocks- basically I’ve always had them and I get them a lot but this season I’m going to a different gym than I’ve competed with before but I’ve taken tumbling for a year or two now so the coaches know me and how prone I am to them. in the past when I’ve gotten them it’s never been when I really have had to have it. it was either while I was on level 2 or that year I was just taking tumbling… but this year I’m on sr. coed 3 so I need to tuck. I think how this mental block first started was when my all time favorite tumbling coach left my gym!! he knew how to get me to throw passes and I got my full with him (yes I had my full and now I’m scared to do a tuck). then to get my final level 3 skill I needed my punch front forward roll to tuck and so while I was working on that I ended up not throwing my tuck for weeks and then one practice my coach was just like work on some regular tucks to relax and that’s when I realized I had a mental block. I’m not really sure why I’m afraid to throw it, I’ve never gotten hurt tumbling or even had a fall that scared me out of it. I used to watch cheer fail videos a few years ago but I haven’t in a really long time. you a little about my history of mental blocks- basically I’ve always had them and I get them a lot but this season I’m going to a different gym than I’ve competed with before but I’ve taken tumbling for a year or two now so the coaches know me and how prone I am to them. in the past when I’ve gotten them it’s never been when I really have had to have it. it was either while I was on level 2 or that year I was just taking tumbling… but this year I’m on sr. coed 3 so I need to tuck. I think how this mental block first started was when my all time favorite tumbling coach left my gym!! he knew how to get me to throw passes and I got my full with him (yes I had my full and now I’m scared to do a tuck).Then to get my final level 3 skill I needed my punch front forward roll to tuck and so while I was working on that I ended up not throwing my tuck for weeks and then one practice my coach was just like work on some regular tucks to relax and that’s when I realized I had a mental block. I’m not really sure why I’m afraid to throw it, I’ve never gotten hurt tumbling or even had a fall that scared me out of it. I used to watch cheer fail videos a few years ago but I haven’t in a really long time but I still remember most of them or I at least know how they all end up. I’m not a bad tumbler, when my coach stands next to me while I do a tuck, I go over his head but I still can’t do it with out someone standing next to me. It’s been happening all summer but the past 4 or 5 weeks maybe is when it’s been really bad. It’s gotten to the point now when even if I’m not at cheer I’ll start to cry thing about my mental block and I just feel really discouraged all the time and it’s all that I think about because I go to cheer a lot and it’s such a big part of cheer it’s so hard to ignore and my coaches tell me to just relax and not think about it but I can’t help it and I feel like I’m letting my team down when I don’t throw it because everyone obviously has it and has everything else on the score sheet and I don’t and I don’t want to hold them back during the season.The seniors on the team talk to me, especially one of them, Skyler, because she also struggles with mental blocks and she cross teams on level 5 but is scared to do round off tucks and then that effects her mentality of cross tumbling so I’ve been talking to her because we can relate a lot and the two others just tell me to not think about it and just go threw the motions of setting and pulling and I’ll be fine but it’s like even before I start I know I’m not going to throw it and I get frustrated with myself because I have it but I can’t do it. I think that’s about all about my mental block. a couple days ago I bailed on a back hand spring and couldn’t even make my feet move in 3 other passes so I just stood in the corner ready to tumble even with a coach there I couldn’t go. I had a private yesterday and I private today and yesterday I was making slow progress but I never felt over whelmed but tonight I felt pressured and stressed and I could throw it even with a full spot. right now I only have 1 tumbling section in the routine and it’s just a ro bhs tuck and I don’t cross tumble. once I’m ready I can be added back into cross tumbling. also yesterday at my private my coach made a good point… I’m a twin and we’re on the same team and back when I was just in tumbling, I got my full and she got really scared and had a minor mental block and then she got over it and started doing really good and that’s when I stated to have trouble and it’s gone down hill from there.
Sounds like there are a few different things going on. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you some advice. I also wrote a blog entry called Tips to Overcome mental blocks. Here is the link https://wendybrucemartin.com/2014/01/11/tips-to-overcome-mental-blocks/
I have been struggling with throwing my back handspring out of no where. I was a gymnast for 5 years and did tumbling beyond a back handspring but when I quit I lost it all except for the back handspring. So I became a cheer leader got my high school. One day at cheer camp I was too scared go throw it. My brain told me no. I haven’t been able to throw it since. It’s been about 2 weeks since camp and I need it back. It’s not that I can’t do the back handspring it’s that my brain will jog let me throw myself back. Please help me !!!!
I have some more articles on this site that should help. Start with “The Missing Link: The Secret to Overcoming Mental Blocks” If you still want advice, email me at email@example.com
Hi my name is Brianna I’ve been having a mental block ever since i moved from compotion to high school its been 4 years. since I’ve actually done a back handspring, its been really hard for me cause its hard for my parents want me to be good and have it. but i don’t know haw to get good at it
Email at Getmepsyched@gmail.com and I can give you some advice there.
My daughter has a mental block on backhand springs that started about 2 weeks ago. I have had her read for the love of tumbling and we agreed to try the system that it lays out, however I was curious if there was anything more that I can do as a parent to help her through this?
Any of the articles you read will lay out a very strong physical training plan. It’s important to allow the athlete to build confidence. The more numbers they can do, the more muscle memory, and hopefully more confidence. In many articles and even my book, we lay out basic mental principles for overcoming fears. In my book, I have five basic principles. They are self talk, focus, confidence, composure, and trust. Of course in order for an athlete to do these principles they must dig deep and discover the underlining reason is that emotions and beliefs that make it difficult to change or overcome. For example, we want athletes to pay attention to their self talk. If they are using negative self talk, chances are their behaviors are negative as well. The principle of empowering self talk means to be able to change negative self talk into empowering self talk, however it’s not that easy. We can’t just go from thinking I’m scared to tumble and I’m going to Hurt myself to I’m amazing at tumbling. So we teach them how to say empowering self talk that they do believe and then we can learn how to grow it into positive beliefs.
I know it athlete baby panicked that they might lose their spot on the team, they are embarrassed, or their streaming emotional. It is important for them to understand that this is a part of training and a part of sports. Everybody will go through some sort of fear and it doesn’t make them a bad athlete or a week athlete. They will get through and breakthrough. They will overcome. It will take hard work and it will be difficult. But they can keep pushing and keep working until they do. Please feel free to contact me if you have anymore questions.
I have such an extreme mental block on mx back walkover. Every time I try to do my back walkover I start to cry because I‘m scared to death. If I just think about doing a back walkover my heart starts racing and my hands start to shake. A few days ago I was really close to getting it and I know that I can do it but today I couldn‘t even do it with a spotter because I was SO SO SO scared. I have been practicing on my back walkover for nine months now… this isn‘t normal anymore. 😦 Has anyone else had this?
I completely get it. Isn’t it amazing that something we want can give us so much fear. Do you know what you afraid of in you BWO? When you get ready to do it, what are you thinking about? Also, look up the Fight, Flight, and Freeze videos on youtube. They can help to understand why the body shakes.