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By David Benzel
I received a phone call this morning from a distraught father who is facing one of the toughest scenarios in sport-parenting. His seventeen year old daughter has been a firststring performer on a top level volleyball team. However a combination of circumstances (a new coach and new talent) on the team has suddenly shaken his daughter’s confidence and her personal swagger has taken a hit. “How can I help her get it back?” he asked. “It’s painful to watch her struggle so much when it’s obvious this is more mental than physical.”
Confidence is a fragile commodity for young athletes, and it seems to be especially fragile for young female athletes. Recovering personal swagger requires that an athlete first identify the basis for the swagger that’s now lost. The exercise below works best when some one’s confidence is founded on a set of beliefs about who they are and what they’re capable of doing, as opposed to some position they’ve held on a team without earning that spot.
This exercise really cuts to the heart of the matter and is also a good visual tool. Have your athlete build a personal list of strengths on a piece of paper under the heading “Who I Am”. The list should include every possible quality, skill, or talent that is already true about them that contribute to a good performance. Examples for a volleyball player might be, “I am quick to the ball” or “I’m an excellent setter”. What truths does your athlete believe to be true about the best that’s within them? The list should be as long and complete as possible, and very specific about particular attributes and skills.
When the list is complete, it’s time to turn the paper over and create the “Who I’m Afraid I Am” list. This is a list of lies that we allow in our head based on what we fear a sub-par performance means about us, but not based on fact. For instance, “I’m afraid I’m not as good as I need to be”, or “I afraid I can’t come through under pressure”, or “I’m afraid I’m not as fast as other players”. The more attention and energy an athlete gives to this list, the more crippled swagger becomes. The worst performances come from dwelling on these “lies” before and during a competition.
Everyone has a two-sided piece of paper on a sub-conscious level that holds these two lists. It may be helpful for you to share some of the lies you have overcome during your life to illustrate that point. Everyone must make a choice about which list they read from everyday. Explain to your young athlete that we are at our best when we focus on our finest qualities and refuse to give any attention or energy to the negative side of that paper. True swagger is knowing who we are, instead of fearing who we might be!
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Congratulations to our October Gymnasts of the Month!
Recreational Class Gymnast -Grace is 5 years old and in our Sparklers class. She comes to class each day with a smile on her face and ready to take on new challenges. Some of Grace's most recent accomplishments are getting stronger in her Bridge, handstands, pullover on bars and confidence on the "big girl beams". Soon she will have all of her requirements to move up into our advanced 4/5yr old class, Sunbeams. She says her favorite thing do at gymnastics is the floor obstacle course, plus trampoline and foam pit - of course!
JO Gymnast -Sophia is 10 years old. She will be starting the season as a level 8 gymnast but her goal is to move to level 9 before state meet. Sophia has been working hard to upgrade her skills. She is currently working a piked Yurchenko vault, a bail and double flyaway on bars, a back-handspring layout and an ariel on beam and a double tuck and 1 1/2 front twist on floor. These are huge upgrades from competing level 6 last year! Sophia would not be where she is today without her being extremely self motivated and driven! She sets goals several weeks out and tries hard to stick to the deadlines she sets for herself.
Xcel Gymnast -Madison J. from Xcel Platinum is the October gymnast of the month. She is 14 years old and a freshman at IAM. Madison was chosen because of her hard work and dedication at practice. She is always willing to lead and constantly challenging herself to be the best she can be. She is excited to show off some new skills this year at competition. On beam her switch leap/wolf jump & cartwheel/roundoff. For floor she is doing a switch side leap connected to a straddle jump and is hoping to do her front layout front tuck by the end of the season.
Save the date for our annual Halloween Party...Friday October 25th, 8-10pm. More info coming soon!
Extreme is celebrating National Gymnastics Day with spirit days all week long & an added open gym this Saturday 5-7pm.