Gymnastics Sport Psychology, Goals, and Motivation
90% Mental and 10% Physical
It is often said that gymnastics is 90% mental and 10% physical.
If that is true, it certainly follows that there should be
some percentage of training time devoted to the mental aspects
of the sport and psychological training tools. In spite of
this reasoning, it appears that even among those coaches who
believe in mental training, there is more verbal support than
actual training going on.
The USA National Gymnastics Team Uses a Sports Psychologist
The U.S. National Gymnastics Team has been seriously working
with sports psychologists since at least 1992, after the Barcelona
Olympics, dealing with problems such as overly high expectations,
pressure and stress management. In the areas the mental training
program has utilized, there seems to be credible evidence
that this program has been a success and contributed to the
success of the United States in International competition.
Self-Esteem vs. Scream
One of the most important aspects for a mental training
program is the creation of a positive gymnastics environment.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that a positive
mental environment is a prime basis for training and competitive
success, especially for girls in gymnastics and other sports.
In spite of this, it seems the typical gymnastics coach is
more apt to follow the Bela Karolyi School of Yelling, Screaming
and Negative Feedback. Perhaps his "screaming" success in
the sport has led other coaches to believe that his success
is a result of that screaming, instead of in spite of it.
Emphasize the Positive
Elite gymnasts tend to have particular traits that include
intelligence, perfectionism and careful attention to detail.
A well-designed mental training program would include methods
of accentuating a gymnast's positive traits and minimizing
their negative traits. A variety of mental programs could
and should be utilized to build confidence levels.
Goal-Setting is a Prime Motivational Tool
It is a well-established principle that that the establishment
and daily regular review of written goals can become a self-fulfilling
prophecy. This is as true in gymnastics training as it is
in any other area of endeavor.
John Howard is the author of 15 books and e-Books
about gymnastics, gym design, gymnastics humor and cheerleading.
More books are already on the way. He has 25 years experience
and has coached State, Regional and National champion gymnasts
and international competitors and cheerleaders at the National
level in NCAA Division I.
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