Advice for Gymnasts Guest Bloggers

Overcoming Mental Blocks with Dr. Sue Jackson

  • To start with, I recommend not owning (or using) the phrase “mental block”; use more neutral and forward-thinking language such as “this skill is one I am still developing” or “I am working on getting this skill”. Choose statements that work for you, but recognise that mental block is not helpful.
  • Understand that there is a difference between thinking and focusing. Thinking is often about things that have happened, or that you are worried will happen. Focusing in the present is your mind fully engaged in task at hand and is associated with your best performances.
  • Look for evidence that supports you can do the skill. Having done the skill before is one such piece of evidence, and you may have video clips of you performing the skill, which can help reinforce to you that you can in fact do the skill. Or, it may be a new skill and you don’t have video footage – you do however, have the ability to mentally practice the skill and to do so with correct technique. Another source of evidence is your coach. A coach who knows you well is unlikely to ask you to do a skill that they don’t believe you are ready to do. Does your coach believe you can do the skill? That is one piece of evidence that you can.
  • A useful perspective to take is: it’s not a mental block, it’s just a skill you’ve not quite got!
Dr. Sue Jackson, Sports Psychologist

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