Overcoming Fear of Injury in Gymnastics
SHARED by: Coach Lizzie, Gymtime Gymnastics Coach
Gymnastics requires extreme precision and coordination and unlike other sports like basketball, soccer and hockey where these are requirements as well, serious injury can occur if the gymnasts does not possess these qualities at all times. With basketball for example, if a player misses his shot it is unlikely he will be injured from his lack of precision. Alternatively, if a gymnast becomes off balance while on the beam and performs a skill, she is unfortunately likely to fall and risks being injured. This reality can become very debilitating and can cause the athlete to develop a series of mental blocks while attempting to perform their skills. As a former gymnast and now a coach, I have dealt with this issue many times. The fear unfortunately never fully goes away but there are ways to deal with it so that the athlete can use it to their advantage. The only times I ever became seriously hurt in gymnastics were when I became too comfortable and careless, which caused me to lose my focus. One of the benefits of fear is that it keeps the athlete’s mind fully aware of the skill they are about to perform which in turn makes them less likely to become injured. Remaining focused at all times is very important for the gymnasts safety but accidents can still occur despite their level of concentration which is why it is imperative that all gymnasts are taught and are aware of the proper ways to fall. A good coach will make a point of teaching their students to have quick reaction times as well as how to position their bodies if they do in fact fall. Good coaches will also make a point to regularly condition their athletes so that they are in peak physical shape. It is often assumed that conditioning’s purpose is solely for building the strength necessary to perform skills but it is in fact also for the athletes safety. A gymnast’s safety is the number one priority and if the athlete is able to put their trust into their coach and stay focused then they are likely to remain healthy while participating in the sport and should not fear injury.