on mental blocks

Steve Arkell linked to the most detailed article on the topic I’ve yet seen. It was published by USAG Technique magazine in 2009.

16 WAYS TO OVERCOME PSYCHOLOGICAL (MENTAL) BLOCK IN GYMNASTICS

… Occasionally, a clear-cut starting point identifies the origin of the psychological blocking problem – a serious fall, a near catastrophe or a painful collision may precipitate the blocking. Perhaps, observing such events happening to another was the precipitating condition. More often, however, the cause is difficult to pinpoint. Our research shows that blocking has a number of predictable characteristics (Feigley, Robbins & Berger, 1989):

it generalizes backwards within a sequence of skills. For example, blocking on the back somersault phase of the roundoff, back handspring, back somersault sequence quickly spreads to the back handspring and frequently to the round-off itself.

it generalizes across skills. For example, a problem on the back salto on the beam quickly spreads to a back salto on the floor and/or to a back walkover on the beam or the floor.

Athletes susceptible to blocking have similar characteristics. They are … very bright fast learners, at least initially. …

Frankly, we do not know what causes psychological blocking. The cause remains a mystery despite some educated guesses. …

4. MINIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF EMOTION ASSOCIATED WITH THE BLOCKING …

8. NEVER MISLEAD THE ATHLETE ABOUT WHETHER YOU WILL OR WILL NOT SPOT. …

9. LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE …

Have gymnasts with the problem talk to one another. Let them realize that they are not alone; they are not the only one. This is especially effective if they have contact with an older, more experienced gymnast who has successfully overcome similar problems with blocking. …

16. DESIGN THE GYMNAST’S OPTIONAL ROUTINES TO ELIMINATE THE BLOCKED SKILL

Download a PDF version of that article from USAG.

psychology of Beam

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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