Mental Skills and Healthy Minds
What exactly does it mean to “train the mind”, and why is this important? Training the mind involves teaching mental skills which are tools that help athletes with focus, confidence, emotional control, dealing with fear, goal setting, dealing with pressure, and changing negative thinking. Gymnastics is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. Some would even argue that at the higher levels, it’s the mental training that separates the top athletes. Most gymnasts at the elite and collegiate levels have a similar level of talent and work ethic, but what usually makes the difference is the state of their minds when the pressure is on. At Optimal Athlete Wellness, we embrace a holistic approach to our athletes which includes this critical and often overlooked component of building mental skills and creating healthy minds.
How do we do this? We teach tools. Coaches spend a lot of time creating a solid foundation of technique, form and other tools on the physical side, but are they taking the time to build a mental tool kit? The more mental tools an athlete has, the more mental strength they will experience, both in and out of the gym. This will ultimately lead to optimizing the athlete’s fullest potential with much more enjoyment and peace of mind.
It’s essential that gymnastics helps our athletes become better people. That’s why at OAW we see gymnastics as a metaphor for life, helping to teach tools that build confidence, self-esteem and a healthy mind every step of the way. What is a healthy mind? A healthy mind is one that sees the world and their sport as an avenue for growth. It looks at adversity as opportunity, and embraces the gifts their sport offers. A healthy mind is confident and displays self-compassion when warranted. OAW works with coaches, parents and athletes, helping them view gymnastics as a way to learn skills that will last a lifetime. We teach skills that help with performance in the gym and success outside of the gym.