Why are my gymnasts scores not improving?

Most of the competitive gymnasts I know are exactly that, competitive. Biggs has chosen to compete on a sprained foot once she had medical clearance. She’s practiced through many aches and pains, or days of not feeling well. She’s worked on skills at home that she was determined to achieve. But despite her hard work and determination, I had to ask myself over the last year or so, “why are my gymnasts scores not improving?” Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of the gains she has made! And check out my post here on why there are better things than first place. But she gets frustrated when scores didn’t reflect her hard work.

Gymnastics scored not improving

Does she understand the correction?

Sometimes athletes need to hear something a different way to make it click. Biggs has had things that her dance teacher will say differently than her gymnastics coaches, and suddenly she’s able to make the correction. Point your toes or straighten your leg isn’t always enough. Check out my post here on why dance can be so good for gymnastics. But in addition, checking to make sure the kiddo understands the vocabulary can help understand specific instructions. Squeeze your glutes may mean nothing to a small kiddo, because they don’t know what muscle the coach is talking about.

Are her gymnastics scores not improving because she isn’t strong enough to sustain the correction?

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It wasn’t until I started down a rabbit hole of research on flexibility that I discovered just how important targeted strength is. Watch for my post on toe point coming soon. Biggs didn’t have the strength to point her toes properly until we specifically worked foot strength. Then we discovered other weaknesses that made everything make sense. Basic tools like these resistance bands can be invaluable.

All of the muscles are connected and need to work in balance. Some gymnasts can manage to compensate with stronger muscles to achieve the skills. However, without engaging all of the muscles properly, she is at higher risk for injury. Check out my post on some of my favorite equipment to help your gymnast at home.

Is she stretching the right muscle?

Just like a gymnast can compensate with stronger muscles during a strengthening exercise, sometimes stretching can be less than effective. For a gymnast that struggles for a long time despite regular stretching, a PT evaluation can be invaluable. Really identifying what the barrier to flexibility is can help the gymnast work smarter. There is some great flexibility information from a PT here. Simple tools like these yoga blocks or sliders can be helpful once the root of the flexibility challenge is understood.

Are her gymnastics scores not improving because she needs to see it?

Some kids are visual learners. This may extend beyond school. I have seen girls think they are reaching a horizontal cast, pointing their toes, or reaching a 180 degree split in their jump. However, taking a video as a teaching tool can be valuable. Quick visual feedback on what they actually look like can sometimes be more helpful than seeing a demonstration. Mirrors can also be a great tool when breaking down technique. A slow-motion video with angles drawn to show where their body is, and where the goal is can also be a great tool. Until they can see it, they can’t recognize that they aren’t doing what is asked. There are a few great tools for purchase here for the compulsory levels that have great illustrations for skills.

Are her gymnastics scores not improving because she lacks proper mental tools?

Mental tools are vital to gymnastics. Some gymnasts can perform well in the gym, but have a hard time with the pressure of competition. Gymnasts that compete beyond basic levels will all encounter fears or mental blocks at some point. They will all fall off the beam. There will be good days and bad days. Check out my post here for some of the reasons behind mental struggles for gymnasts and a few tools to help.

Putting all the pieces together

All of the pieces mentioned in this post were important to the puzzle to help Biggs put it all together. And most of the factors need repetition to be effective. While showing up at practice may be sufficient in the early years, even professional athletes with successful coaches employ other professions to put it all together. Stay tuned for more as we discover more of the tools for for a happy, healthy gymnast with the tools to reach potential.

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