Oh, excuses. Let me be the first to raise my hand and say that I am totally guilty of making excuses. And if we’re really honest, everyone is! Excuses are our cop out of things we don’t want to do. It’s amazing the excuses my brain can come up with sometimes. It’s so easy to come up with a reason why we can’t or won’t do something. Especially as a gymnast! We face so many things as gymnasts – fear, injuries, soreness, exhaustion, etc. The list goes on and on. And those are legitimate things. But, it’s super easy to let those things become excuses.
So what’s the balance? How do we deal with these real issues and not let them become a crutch we use to get out of the things we just honestly don’t want to do?
Here are the three most common excuses I hear as a coach (and made as a gymnast) that I want to confront.
- “I’m scared.”
Now, I’ve talked a lot about fear in other posts, but I want to mention it here as well because it’s a big one! And it’s also a silent one. How many times have you avoided a skill because you’re scared? You spend the whole workout pretending like you’re actually working on something, when really all you’re trying to do is avoid that one skill. And you’re hoping and praying that your coach doesn’t notice because you’re “working” on something else.
Did I just touch a nerve? Like I said, this is a BIG one! Unfortunately for the girls that I coach, this doesn’t work very often. Because it wasn’t so long ago that I was in their shoes doing the exact same thing. So I am VERY aware of this little trick. Sorry ladies! But not really. Because this doesn’t do you any good. Instead of talking to your coach about your fear and letting them help you work your way up to that skill, you just stand there. And you do nothing. And that, my friends, will do absolutely nothing to help your gymnastics.
Maybe you’re afraid to do that skill on a high beam. So instead of avoiding it completely, you could talk to your coach about a game plan of how you can work your way up to the high beam. Maybe today you do it on the low beam and by the end of the week you set a goal to do it on the high beam. Most importantly, you don’t just stand there and do nothing. Open your mouth and talk to your coaches! They understand that fear is real! And they want to help you.
- “I’m tired.”
Listen, I know that being tired is a reality. And it really does affect your gymnastics. But let’s be real. We’re tired almost everyday. Especially late in the afternoon when it’s time for practice. You probably were up until midnight the night before doing homework (because you got home late from the gym), woke up at 6am for school, spent all day in classes and taking tests, and now you have four hours of gymnastics ahead of you. Um, can I have a nap please?
Just like being scared, this requires communication on your part with your coaches. Don’t just be lazy! If you are really especially tired one day and feel like you can’t focus on anything, talk to your coach. Now, this doesn’t mean you ask if it’s okay to not do your skills at all that day or if you can go home and curl up on the couch. But maybe you ask if you can lower your numbers for the day. Ask if you can do drills instead. Perhaps you ask if you can spend a little more time on conditioning where you don’t have to focus quite as much. Whatever it may be, there’s always something beneficial you can be doing, even if it’s not your usual full out practice. And do whatever you choose to the very best of your ability.
- “I’m hurting.”
This one is really important. Please hear me: If you are injured, listen to your doctor. Don’t push through the pain. Let your body heal. But if it’s just convenient to say something is hurting because you just really don’t want to do that particular skill that day, that’s not okay. Use wisdom in determining if you feel injured or if maybe you’re just a little sore from yesterday’s conditioning. It’s important to know when it’s okay to push through the pain and when you actually need to stop.
Always listen to your body and let your coach know if something is hurting. If something new is really bothering you and keeping you from doing your skills fully, you need to let them know. Ask if you can do the things I mentioned above… lower your numbers, do drills, or maybe just do conditioning.
If something is continually hurting and does not get better, GO SEE A DOCTOR! Don’t just keep using that pain as an excuse to get out of doing skills. It’s important that you get it checked out so that you and your coach know what’s going on. It can be dangerous to just keep pushing yourself when you’re really injured because you become more focused on the pain than on the technique of the skill you’re doing.
Speaking as a coach, it’s very difficult to help you as a gymnast if you just continue to hurt without having a professional determine what’s wrong. If there’s an injury there, we want to help you take care of it. We want you to heal! But we can’t do that if we don’t know how to treat it.
You are a smart young woman, so use wisdom! This is your gymnastics. No one can read your mind or feel your pain. Use your words and communicate with your coach! Don’t be afraid to talk to them. You have to take care of YOU. And they care about you and want the best for you. So be honest with them.
If you want to progress and succeed in your gymnastics, it’s time to get rid of excuses. You can do this! I believe in you.