There is a fine margin between successful gymnasts and those that are not. More often than not it is the mental attitude and not the physical skills that make the biggest difference.
After coaching hundreds of gymnasts over the course of 20 years, I am able to recognize the habits of highly successful gymnasts. If you are an aspiring gymnast, find out how these 7 habits will help you become successful as well.
Let’s dive into this!
Table of Contents
- #1 Be on time
- #2 Visualize success
- #3 Take care of your environment
- #4 Listen to feedback
- #5 Observe other gymnasts
- #6 Handle pressure
- # 7 Repeat simple drills… a lot!
#1 Be on time
Good time keeping is a habit for life whether it’s in the gym or in life in general. Being on time shows your coaches and your team mates a basic level of respect and sets you off on the right foot.
It can also be a bit embarrassing to arrive late for practice, I know some children hate arriving late and seeing that everyone else has started their warm -up already. Although the warm-up is the least favorite part of training for many gymnasts, it’s also the most important. If you miss part of the warm-up you are more likely to get injured as your body will not be ready for the harder parts of the session.
I know of some coaches who will point blank refuse entry to gymnasts that arrive late for training, and have even seen a gymnast turned away by their own coach from a competition because they were late for registration. It may seem harsh but I bet that gymnast was never late for a meet again!
#2 Visualize success
Highly successful gymnasts are not completely surprised when they reach higher levels because many of them will have visualized those moments many times in their head.
That might sound arrogant and over-confident but it doesn’t have to be so. It simply shows that the gymnast had an inner belief in their own abilities and by regularly visualizing success it can help the mind stay focussed. This is especially important when you hit those low times. Maybe nailing a new skill or a competition result didn’t go to plan. It’s normal to get down and feel bad during the low times so you need a way to pick yourself up and go again.
Visualization is such a useful tool, I encourage it and talk about it with competitive gymnasts regularly as part of their goal setting process.
If you can imagine yourself doing something, it channels good vibes and positivity all through your body!
#3 Take care of your environment
For a gymnast to be successful they need the right physical training environment. Big apparatus like the bars, vault, trampolines and mats are all important but so are the smaller things, hand guards, leotards – they all need to be in good condition to allow a gymnast to be successful.
It also helps create the right mindset. Occasionally I will walk into a gym facility and have a bad first impression because it’s sloppy and you can feel the lack of pride in the environment. The very same traits can also be seen in the gymnasts – a lack of detail in their work and a lack of focus are common things that affect gymnasts success.
Gymnasts can take care of their environment by being tidy, putting equipment back in the rightful place and being careful when moving and setting up training stations. For younger gymnasts this might be harder as coaches will do a lot of the work but as you get older you should also take ownership of your gym environment and be proud of your surroundings.
#4 Listen to feedback
Taking on board feedback from a coach is vital if you want to improve your skills and become successful. Maybe I am biased but it’s true and plenty of gymnasts don’t fully understand the feedback they get from a coach. And to be fair not all coaches are great at giving feedback!
There is one way to tell if a gymnast is listening to feedback and that’s when they ask a question to the coach. By asking questions, the gymnast is now starting to think for themself which is another important characteristic.
Most gymnasts are not robots. If they were they would simply be programmed with the coaches feedback and they would improve instantly. Instead they have to listen to the feedback and process that into making small changes or adjustments to their work and only then will the feedback make a difference.
So gymnasts … listen to the coaches feedback you get AND ask plenty of questions, especially if you don’t understand.
#5 Observe other gymnasts
Successful gymnasts will be constantly trying to learn from others around them, not just the coach. When you observe other gymnasts it gives you a chance to spot differences in technique and possibly adapt them into your own work. Likewise, gymnasts can identify similarities and take confidence in their own technique.
Either way it’s a much better use of time to be observing other gymnasts instead of chatting or messing around.
#6 Handle pressure
Being able to handle pressure, especially competitive pressure, is one of the key differences between gymnasts that succeed and fail. Two gymnasts with similar skill sets routines, difficulties are often separated by which one can perform on the day in front of an audience and judges.
Being able to handle pressure is not easy so the best way to prepare for a big meet is by building up slowly over period of time. A gymnast should only focus on the things within their control and try to block out all the other distractions.
Being able to stick to a routine on the day of a competition meet is also a big help.
# 7 Repeat simple drills… a lot!
The most successful gymnasts will repeat basic skills a lot, even when the coach isn’t looking! And let’s face it, gymnastics is a sport where drills have to be repeated hundreds of times before they can be mastered.
Some drills are boring and physically demanding and whilst a good coach will try keep things exciting, the reality is that there will many hours of repetitive drills, conditioning and stretching. If a gymnast can stay as focussed on the 100th attempt as they did on the 1st, they will have got into a habit that many of gymnasts will not.
The habits of highly successful gymnasts are often found in athletes from all kinds of sports and possibly even in successful business people. This goes to show that gymnasts are empowered for life by the skills they learn in our wonderful sport!