Helping Your Gymnast Cope With the Stress of Competition
The one thing that all kids have to deal with at some point in their lives, and usually pretty early on as well, is stress. Stress from homework, exams, and, if they are a youth gymnast or other athlete, the stress of competition. While gymnastics and athletics are ultimately designed to be fun for kids, those who participate in sports at a competitive level can begin to feel a little stressed when meet time comes around.
As an adult, you know that stressing themselves out over the competition is not going to help them one little bit and may even decrease their chances of reaching their potential. If you’re a kid though, that can be really hard to see or understand, they just want to do well. But you can help. Here are some great strategies you can share with them to help manage their stress and get better results at the same time:
Encourage Proper Time Management
Time management is not just a great tool for grown-ups, it’s a way for athletic kids to actually reap some rewards from their efforts. While practice is important, especially before a big meet, ensure that your child makes time for everything else that’s important; schoolwork, homework and spending time away from it all with friends. Help them set a timetable for each day and ensure that it covers everything they need to do – and should do – and is easy to stick to.
Snatching snacks and junk food because they want to keep practicing is something many athletic kids are tempted to do. Don’t let them though! They need all of their energy and good health in a naturally stressful time like this and eating right is one of the best ways to maintain that. Insist that they come to the table for proper meals, not only to eat but also to get a much needed break from all that physical effort.
Burning the midnight oil isn’t good for anyone and it’s certainly bad for kids trying to compete at any level of gymnastics or athletics. Set a proper bedtime (even for teens) that will give them 7-8 hours of sleep a night and even if you have to take away their laptop/smartphone or TV to make sure they get to bed on time do it. Sure, they might be a little mad for a few minutes but the improvement in the way they feel after a good night’s sleep will offset all of that pretty quickly.
Make Time for Fun
Even as a parent it can be all too easy to let your child practice for too long at one time. They need breaks or the result will be ‘burn out’, so make sure that they have time to relax, listen to music, play a video game or just chat on the phone st allow their brain to ‘recharge’ between practice sessions.
Just Breathe (Right)
Once they are in the real competition situation for some kids that is when the real stress hits. Something as simple as proper breathing can help a lot though. Encourage your kid to learn to deep breathe, breathing in, and then breathing out to a slow count of four. It will be helpful if they practice this exercise when they aren’t stressed so that they know how to do it when they actually need it.
Every parent wants their athletic child to do well in their chosen sport and especially in competitions. By making use of these tips and tricks as well as by offering an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on when they need it you can help make sure they do.
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