How To Overcome Mental Blocks In Cheerleading & Gymnastics

“Just do it!”. “It’s easy, just throw it”. “Your tumbling is so pretty, you shouldn’t be afraid.”. “You used to have it so you should be able to do it!”. If you are a cheerleader or gymnast with a mental block, you have probably heard comments like this from well-meaning teammates with a sinking feeling in your gut. You want to do your skills more than anything but you just do not know how to overcome your mental block in your tumbling or skills.

Gymnastics Uneven Bars

As an athlete who has dealt with mental blocks myself, I know what it feels like to think you are letting everyone down, especially yourself. That feeling of helplessness that comes from walking into practice not knowing if you will be able to execute the skills you have worked so hard to master completely steals the joy out of practice. For so many athletes, the pressure becomes so much that they end up quitting a sport they love.

Through working past mental blocks myself, my experience as a cheer, gymnastics, and tumbling coach, and as a mental performance coach specializing in helping athletes overcome mental blocks, I know the power of having a plan. What if you could know EXACTLY what to do at practice to make progress on your goals? How much more confident would you be if you could trade the trial-and-error methods with a proven strategy so you know what to focus on at practice and could leave every day feeling accomplished? That is what I teach in my Mind Over Mental Block Method.

You are absolutely in the right place today if you:

  • are an athlete or parent of an athlete who has ever experienced a mental block, or
  • have never experienced a mental block personally but you have seen friends struggling and you are afraid you will experience a setback.
  • have a tendency to let your anxiety and stress take the joy away from practices and competitions
  • are tired of putting in the work to improve your skills only to leave practices frustrated and disappointed

If this is you, I am so glad you are here, because today I am going to share my secrets with you by revealing the first 3 steps in my 5-step Mind Over Mental Block Method. This is what I teach my clients. This method teaches mental game skills that reduces the fears that contribute to mental blocks. It will also help you to improve your practice efficiency so you build confidence and see progress every single practice. Are you ready to have a plan for getting excited about your skills again? Let’s get started…

Before we jump into the 5 steps, it is important to understand what mental blocks are and where they come from. If this is unfamiliar to you, check out my blog post “What is a mental block? Cheer & Gymnastics Edition” by clicking here 

THE MIND OVER MENTAL BLOCK METHOD (STEPS 1-3)

#1 Eliminate Expectations

Expectations are strict rules you make about your performance. With expectations, you constantly judge how you are doing compared to how you think you SHOULD be doing. “I should be working on my full but instead I’m stuck on my BHS”. “I should be tumbling with that team”. “I should have my BHS by now”. “I have to throw my back handspring today”. “I have to throw it on the first try or today is a failure”. “I shouldn’t be afraid to throw my BHS”. Sound familiar?

Expectations cause a very result-oriented focus and can cause you to feel frustrated when you do not meet them. They fuel feelings of failure, lead to frustration and crush confidence. They cause pressure and lead us to feel judged and like we are not enough. Most importantly, THEY ARE NOT HELPFUL and tell us nothing about how to actually perform the skill. So before every practice, ask yourself, “What expectations do I have for today?”. Write them down and throw them away.

So what do we want to do? We want to build ourselves up for success.

#2 Boost Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk is exactly what it sounds like. It is what you say or think to yourself and it can be positive or negative. When you use negative self-talk, you are actually fueling your fears and giving the mental block power. “I can’t do it. I haven’t done it for the past month so I know I won’t do it today.” “I will never overcome this block.” “I am a terrible tumbler!” Do any of those sound familiar?

By using negative thought patterns, you are choosing to accept the block is a part of you and something you have no control over. It gives you excuses to stay stuck. But, when you use positive self-talk you are starving your block. You are deciding that you will not let the block define you. Statements like, “I am getting closer to throwing my skill every day”, “I work hard and am strong enough to do the skill”, “I am confident”, “I am a great cheerleader”, and “I love a good challenge and am ready to be great at practice today” are block-breakers. So pay attention to those negative thoughts, call attention to them, and choose to replace them with positive ones that will build you up and move you forward.

Now that you know what to avoid and how to build yourself up, you need to have a plan for what to actually do at practice.

#3 Focus Using Cues

Cues are any thoughts, images, or feelings that will help you plan and execute a skill. This step has to do with immersing your mind in the task at hand. It is so easy to focus on things that have nothing to do with our current skill like, “It is hot in here”, “my coach seems mad today”, “I am hungry”, “I don’t have the right shoes”, “I cant do my BHS on the rod floor”, “I only throw it when X coach spots me” …. If you are not intentional with what you focus on, your mind wanders to things that are not only not important but that actually can make you feel more pressure.

When you are working on your skill, you can use cues to get completely focused on the moment. For example, if you are working on a BHS your cues could be 5678 swing, jump, legs, finish (yay)! You can develop cues for any skill you are working on. You can also use mini-goals such as “I will jump hard”, “I will run strong”, “I will trust my skills”, “I will focus on my cues”, … These are goals that keep you focused on what to do in the moment to be successful in the skill. They are not expectations because you are not going to judge yourself negatively, you are using these as guides to keep you focused.

If you showed up to practice without expectations, you talked yourself up with positive self talk, and you are totally focused when you go to throw your skill think of how well you are positioning yourself for success!!

With these steps, you can go to practice with a game plan, excited to work on your skills. You can walk in confident, know what to focus on while you are working on your skills, and leave feeling accomplished. Your mental game is like physical practice and it takes time to establish these skills. Be patient and remember it is a process. I am here supporting you every step of the way!

The content is great but real change happens in the application. Are you ready to take these concepts and put them into action but are not sure exactly how? 

I would love to invite you to check out my Mind Over Mental Block Quickstart Course. In this course, you will receive content via training videos AND will learn tools and steps to help you apply these concepts to your unique situation. 

As a bonus, you will receive access to an expert Mental Performance Coach via weekly check-in forms and application worksheets which means you can trust your plan and simply execute!

For all the details and to gain access, visit mgpcoach.com/quickstartbyeblock/ today!

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