One of the best lessons I can help a gymnast learn is to go for a skill by herself. As a coach, my knowing that a gymnast can complete a skill safely is only half the battle (maybe more like a quarter of the battle…). It is getting the gymnast to understand that she can complete a skill safely on her own where the reward comes in – for gymnast and coach.
I was watching one of my gymnasts go through the mental anguish of doing her back handspring on a medium-height beam for the first time. I could tell that she really wanted to go. I counted to three. She said, “One more time!” I counted to three again. She said, “Ugh! I almost went!” I counted to three again, and she started to swing her arms, and I knew she was committed. She did a great back handspring!
But this was only one day.
The next day, and throughout the next week, the process was much the same. But she was able to get herself to go, and after her first one or two, I didn’t have to count anymore. Each day, by doing this skill by herself, and getting herself to go on her own, she is building her confidence in herself and her ability. She is coming to understand that she doesn’t need me there to save her; she is strong enough and good enough to do it alone.
This is an amazing thing to watch. I love watching gymnasts come to the understanding that they can do something by virtue of their own power. I want them to say with pride, “I did that!” This is one of my favorite parts of coaching: giving my gymnasts the tools they need to be self-confident, self-reliant, self-driven, and to have high self-esteem throughout their lives.