Whether you’re a recreational gymnast or training for a huge competition, gymnasts incur emotional stress every time they step into the gym. From learning a new combination to dealing with an injury, big or small, there are many elements to this physically challenging and inspiring sport that make it a bit stressful from time to time.
Did you know that, along with helping you with the physical demands of gymnastics, physiotherapists are here to help you handle the mental and emotional aspects of the sport, as well? While we aren’t therapists, we help give gymnasts the tools to relax- which is just as important for your mental game as your physical one. Rigidity can make you perform more poorly and even contribute to injury- imagine landing when your body is as rigid as it tends to be when you’re nervous or anxious. All this isn’t to mention that relaxation has been linked to some health problems!
While we’ll go through some exercises and techniques you can use to enjoy a little more peace of mind whether you’re at practice, competition or just on the street in your session, there are some techniques you can start using right now to enhance your gymnastics performance and prevent gymnastics injury:
1) Repeat a few words over and over in your mind: Having a mantra of sorts has proven really useful in calming athletes experiencing pre-game or pre-competition jitters. Find a combination of words that works for you, whether its, “I’ve got this,” or something much more simple, such as, “Ok. Ok. Ok.” Anything that makes you feel calm and focused is a great reliever of stress!
2) Imagine yourself in a peaceful setting: Visualization has been known to calm last minute jitters and pull athletes out of negative or dysfunctional thinking.
3) Envision success: What do you need to be successful? Do you need to land a difficult jump? Execute a difficult combination? Envision what you need to be successful over and over, don’t think negative thoughts.
4) Physically relax: Tense your muscles for about 10 seconds, then intentionally relax them. You’ll notice a world of difference.
5) Focus on your breath: Focusing simply on your breathing- in and out evenly- can be calming and help you focus not on your jitters or worries but on the task at hand instead.
Call (08) 9272 7359 and book an appointment with one of our expert sports physios now!