Lack of self-confidence can influence motivation, concentration and feelings of anxiety. That’s why it’s important to have sufficient self-confidence. “Sufficient” means that you don’t have too much or too little. People with little self-confidence experience anxiety quicker and are less motivated and concentrated. If you are scared (anxiety) that you won’t succeed in performing skill x, you will practice it less (weakened concentration) and while performing the skill you’ll be interrupted by negative thoughts.
Good news though, you can increase your self-confidence in gymnastics with the tactics below:
Keep track of your successes
Make a list of training goals you want to achieve. Ask yourself if these goals are realistic and if not, divide them into subgoals so you are able to quickly experience successes.
Visualize and observe
To experience indirect success, you could use visualization or observation exercises. When using visualization you see yourself doing skill x and this will increase your self-confidence. This also goes for observing the execution of element x with others. You can observe another gymnast in practice or in a video.
Compliments, positive feedback and positive self-talk increase your self-confidence. You can receive compliments from your coach or fellow gymnasts or parents.
Now that you know that giving a compliment can increase your self-confidence, try to give a compliment to one of your gymnast friends or be extra aware as a coach that you give enough tops.
It also helps to talk positively to yourself once in a while. We usually tend to focus on things that don’t go well and punish ourselves for them. “Argh, I’m still not able to do that handstand on beam. I’m such a failure.” This thought isn’t working so try to bend it a little to “I cannot do it YET”. That sounds a lot friendlier. Also try to give yourself a compliment when the handstand does go well. You may be proud of that!
Be aware that making mistakes is part of your learning process. Usually mistakes lead to negative thoughts so try to think of them as a learning point, like the example above. When you use this learning point as a basis to set a goal and are able to achieve the goal, this will then help you with your self-confidence.
Tips for coaches to give more self-confidence
- Work on setting (realistic) goals. Use a goal card in your lessons for example.
- Gymnasts can get more self-confidence by observing each other. Have gymnast 1, who can do a good handstand, work together with gymnast 2, who doesn’t have full control of her handstand yet. Or show videos of skill x that you want the gymnast to learn.
- Give enough compliments but don’t overdo it.
- Give tips as well as tops in proportion
- Talk to a gymnast who always puts herself down. Teach the gymnast to talk with words like “I cannot do it yet”.
- Finish a practice with the compliment game: have gymnasts give each other compliments, have an assistant give out compliments or give compliments as a coach.
- Give gymnasts a compliment notebook in which they can keep track of the compliments they give themselves or they were given by others.
Want to get more advice or discuss a situation with other coaches and gymnasts on how to get more self-confident? Go to the Gymnastics Tools platform and join the discussion. You can also look at more exercise and tools!