Many athletes feel the only way to win is to have an absolutely perfect performance. They feel that they can only win when they have an “ON” day, they bring their A-game, or when all the stars align, and everything just slides into place. Simone Biles just proved to the world; you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be “on”, and you can win with your B-game as long as you keep working, keep pushing, and just focus on doing your own thing.
I know, I know Simone is in a class of her own. Her D-scores are so high that she can have a fall and still be All-Around champ, but she can’t have multiple falls and mistakes. She still has to perform those routines and in sports, nothing is guaranteed.
Simone is a beast; her ability, mentality, endurance, and personality is a perfect combination of athlete that may never come around again. She seems to skip through competition with no worries and no stress, but I am sure that she is aware of the pressures that the gymnastic’s community and the world may be placing on her.
Usually when I watch Simone, I am never nervous for her. I know that she is consistent, and she can do her routines in her sleep. However, at World Championships in Glasgow this past week, I was nervous for her. She had the extra added pressure of winning her third straight World title, she had the pressure of putting on a Simone Show of big ticks and being consistent, and she had the pressure of leading the USA team to their third straight gold.
To the normal athlete, that is a ton of pressure, and that is why staying at the top of your game and your sport for three straight years is a challenging task not commonly accomplished.
That type of pressure can make an athlete start to wonder:
Can I do it? What if I can’t? Will I let everyone down? What will happen if I do it, will everyone expect more? They are expecting me to win, what if I don’t?
Wondering thoughts can cause anxiety: They may feel like they have to hit and if they have a tough workout or “off” practice, it could make their wondering thoughts can get out of control:
What if I have this type of performance in the competition? Why am I falling on this easy skill? I hope I don’t fall.
They could even start to doubt themselves if they are having a great practice and hitting all of their routines. They could start to doubt if they could keep it up. They may feel like they have done so well for so long, and something bad has to happen. They may feel like they have to fall sometimes and it could be at the next competition.
With everything that could have been going through Simone’s mind, she just seemed just to be able to focus on herself and her gymnastics.
She seemed to be able just to do her gymnastics, do what she did in the gym, trust in herself, get out of her head and to let her body do what it was trained to do.
Her week of competition was long and some days seemed better than others, but she also showed us that even when your are not having an “on” day or your A-game doesn’t show up, you have to do the best you can with your B-game.
When she had mistakes, she just kept pushing though. She didn’t seem to get tense, try to control her skills, panic, or worry about the mistake. She remained focused, calm, and she left the mistake behind her and kept working through her routine. She never gave up. Her performances didn’t seem to bother her. When she hit one event, she seemed to leave it behind her, move on to the next event and, focus on that routine. When she had a mistake, she seemed to leave it behind her, move to the next event, and focus on that routine. Regardless if she hit or missed, her plan was the same; move on.
If you look into her eyes during her routines, her focus didn’t change. When she touched the beam on her punch front during individual all-around finals, there was no expression. No expression of shock or disappointment, she just got herself straight and finished her routine.
She just kept doing her gymnastics.
When she went to the floor after her beam routine, she seemed calm and unaffected. She seemed to put beam behind her, and she walked onto the floor thinking only about her floor routine. She nailed her first pass and danced and performed just like Simone Biles does. She brought everyone in, and we were all smiling with her. When she finished her second pass, she bounced out of bounds, which could be the difference between first and last in gymnastics. She smiled stepped back in bounds and finished her routine. She performed, gave her absolute best and didn’t seem to let her mistake control the rest of her routine.
Again, at a time when others could have started to panic about going out of bounds, Simone left her mistake behind her and focused on the rest of her routine. One more mistake from Simone could have caused her to get second place (which I still think would have been amazing). She just kept working, kept pushing, and finished her routine strong.
She didn’t seem to have a perfect competition, she didn’t seem to “on” every event, but even so, she did what she could do with her B-game and still came out on top.
Simone is in a class of her own, but with sports, nothing is guaranteed. She still has to overcome fears, get back on track from distractions, trust in her training and perform under pressure. The physical training is there for Simone, but it seems like the mental training is there as well.
She could have let the pressure get to her and focused on the outcome of becoming a World Champion. Instead, she focused on her skills and her routines. She could have panicked because she wasn’t having an “on” day. Instead, she focused on her skills and her routines. She could have given into doubt or fears of others expectations. Instead, she focused on her skills and routines.
Simone had the talent, but she also showed a level of mental strength that we can all learn from. We may never be able to walk into a double layout, but we can learn to work like Simone. We can put the work in during practice. We can trust in our training. We can learn to push through even when we aren’t at our best. We can focus on ourselves and our skills, and we can learn that she is a three-time World Champion because she never gives up.