Mental Obstacles in Gymnastics

Mental Obstacles in Gymnastics

Clare Bowen, Writer

The phrase “it’s all in your head” is common in sports through mental blocks.

A mental block is a physiological obstacle that prevents athletes from completing certain skills. Mental blocks sprout from self-doubt, comparison, a fixed mindset, and tunnel vision.

Mental blocks are common in gymnastics. They involve a gymnast going to complete a skill, getting scared, and stopping mid-skill. This can result in a serious injury.

Freshman Kaleigh Dooney shares that mental blocks for her often happen while being on the Franklin High School Varsity Gymnastics team. If Dooney has a bad fall on a skill, she then is scared to do it again because she doesn’t want to get hurt.

Furthermore, obstacles can also form from her being scared to start a new skill, especially one she has seen someone else fall on. These two situations fall into the self-doubt and comparison types of mental blocks.

Dooney shares that her longest mental block lasted up to two years, and her shortest lasted just around three months. During these time periods, she would try the skill, doubt herself and stop-mid skill, resulting in her being hurt.

Dooney uses her coach to spot her, break down the skill, and complete drills to make the movement less scary, all helping to overcome the mental block. Using a “don’t think, just do” mindset is helpful for many athletes, as they can usually complete the skill, without getting into their head too much.

Mental obstacles can have a big impact on athletes’ careers. Fear of failing can prevent athletes of performing to their best ability and impairs the development of their skill in the sport.

Telling yourself that you are not capable of something can injure your future, but with support from friends, families, and mentors, those obstacles can be persevered through.