Many athletes of all ages develop a mental block at one point or another. Their coach will be standing behind them with an arm outstretched to spot, the athlete executes the skill perfectly without being touched, but for whatever reason — they can’t do it by themselves. They stop, stutter, and become flustered at the idea of throwing it alone. A mental block is when an athlete is perfectly capable of executing a skill, but they are unable to do it without the assistance of a coach.
However, we know that the right approach to a mental block can help it disappear. Here are our favorite methods.
Surround yourself with talented athletes.
There is a common adage about people becoming the average of those they spend the most time with. Strangely enough, this applies to tumbling as well. Hanging around a bunch of tumblers who can perform your skill successfully — particularly if they are close to your age and height — and watching them tumble can actually help something click within you. You may benefit from their success.
Visualize the pass and act it out.
First, imagine you are completing the tumbling skill. Whatever it may be, imagine the set, the swing, and whatever aspects are needed to land successfully. Then, act it out. For example, if you are working on a roundoff, back handspring, tuck, do the roundoff. Jump into the air and arch slightly as if you were doing a handspring. Walk back a few steps, and jump into the air with a high set and a sharp pull in of the knees to emulate the tuck. Really feel as if this is real, and imagine going upside down to complete the pass. This technique can improve confidence and certainty in technique.
Work on something else.
Taking space from a skill that has been frustrating you can help you come back to it with renewed energy and determination. Plus, many times, the issue with a block has to do with a weaker technique spot. Find a coach who can help you discover what you need to work on, then take their advice and do some drills. This space from the skill and focus on technique development can only help as you progress toward harder skills.
Do something you’re good at.
It’s frustrating to try something over and over again, and it’s downright angering to miss the mark each time. Instead of letting the anger get the best of you, do something else you’re good at. It doesn’t have to be related to cheerleading, either. If you’re good at singing, do that. Basketball? Go shoot some hoops. Drawing? Go make a masterpiece. By engaging in something you’re already good at, you’ll increase your confidence and self-esteem. These boosts can carry you a long way when you’re ready to try your skill again.
Of course, encouragement and positive thinking are the best ways to overcome a mental block. If you continue to work at your skills, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to land the even the hardest passes. Get in touch with MGA Cheer Extreme today to learn more about our tumbling classes and schedule. We look forward to working with you.