As funny as the meme above is meant to be, it’s a real thing! Stage fright…every gymnast has it, whether they admit it or not. It may get easier as you compete more and do it for years, but it never really goes away. The idea of having hundreds of eyes on you all at once is scary. It can even be scary if it’s just your family, coaches, and teammates! So how can they deal with the stress and pressure of an actual competition??
To help combat and alleviate stage fright, our team does mock competitions almost every class. This does not mean we set up our gym every practice to look like its competition ready with judges tables and score cards and the whole bit! Rather, it means we have all the kids take their touches and then sit down quietly and watch each of their teammates “compete.” When its their turn, the athlete must stand up and salute in before doing their routine. At the end of their routine, they must show an out bounce and a complete stop and then salute back to us to signal the end of their routine – just like at a real meet. We always tell them what they did well and what they need to improve on. Occasionally, we even score them. Practicing saluting in, competing their routine, and then saluting out helps to desensitize them to the stress of competition and being watched and judged.
This is just one way we try to help our athletes feel less nervous when it counts the most!