How to tumble without a coach standing close

[Edited transcript below]

Q: why can I do a skill by myself when someone is standing nearby, but as soon as they move further away, I'm scared.

Both scenarios are without a spotter; the person is just standing close by. It’s similar to being able to do a skill on a tumble track but freezing when trying to do it on the floor.

It’s all related to trust. Even though you know the spotter isn’t physically supporting you, their presence in your peripheral vision makes you feel safe. Your body feels fear, and when the spotter is close, your fear level goes down because your brain thinks, “If something bad happens, they will catch me.” As they move further away, your fear increases because your brain is trying to keep you safe. It focuses on potential dangers because it’s wired to protect you.

The spotter backing away slowly approach

When your coach is nearby, you feel more secure. As they gradually move away, it’s a progression that helps you build confidence. If they’re standing right next to you and then move an inch away, it’s less scary than them not being there at all. This progression helps you gradually get used to the idea of being on your own.

Sometimes coaches don’t like to play the game of moving inch by inch, preferring to tell athletes to just go for it. But this incremental approach can be helpful. It allows athletes to see progress and build confidence gradually. Confidence has different levels, from “I hope I can do this” to “I know I can do this.” Small steps, like moving a foot away at a time, help build this confidence before mastering the entire skill.

BUT, THERE IS A CATCH. The athlete must CHOOSE to focus on their own confidence and trust, not how close the spotter is to them. This approach requires a mindset shift to be successful. 

How do you tumble without a spotter?

It’s important for athletes to shift their focus from the coach to themselves. If athletes rely entirely on the coach’s presence, their trust remains external. Instead, they can use the coach’s gradual movement away as a chance to build their own courage and control. They have an opportunity to focus on their actions, like running hard and punching strong, and recognize the progress they’re making. This mindset helps build internal trust and reduces dependence on the coach.

Understanding why you freeze when your coach steps away can help you address these fears. By building trust in yourself gradually and shifting focus from external safety to internal confidence, you can overcome the fear and perform your tumbling skills independently.

That's it! Now it's your turn.

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