It’s official! You just finished competing at your gymnastics meet and what a relief it is to be done!
However, if you’re like a lot of gymnasts we know, you’re probably replaying the day’s events over and over in your mind picking apart your routines and wondering how you could’ve done better.
Even if you’ve had a great meet it’s not uncommon to wonder why you got the deductions you did or why your score wasn’t higher, and rightly so. Your goal is to do your very best and knowing what you can improve on is valuable information.
So what are some things you can do to ensure you learn from your meet and improve on your performance the next time?
In this blog we’ve outlined 5 things you can do after your meet to help you do better in the future. We’ve even created a Gymnastics Post-Meet Review Guide that you can use after your next meet. Be sure to download it.
But before we begin, it’s important to realize that we all have our own version of how to unwind after a meet. For some gymnasts, taking a breather from thinking about gymnastics and enjoying some downtime first before thinking about your meet is the right way to go. For other gymnasts, thinking about your routines while they’re still fresh in your mind is a better choice. Do what works best for you. Either way is right depending on which feels more comfortable to you.
Here is the audio of this article if you would prefer to listen to it instead of reading it:
Without further delay, here are 5 things you can do after a gymnastics meet to help you improve in the future.
Number 1: Review Videos of Your Routines
Chances are, either your coach or a family member took videos of your routines. Reviewing these videos is really helpful to understanding the things you need to work on in your routine. While you might feel uncomfortable watching your own routines, it will provide you with so much information, so don’t shy away from this step.
When you watch your routines what do you notice?
For example, when you go up to salute the judges is your chin down? Do you look nervous? During your routine, did you notice that your toes were flexed and your feet were apart during your skills? Were your legs bent? Did you take a lot of steps on your landing? Were you ahead of your floor music during your routine?
Sometimes you don’t realize that you’re doing these things until you see yourself doing them on video.
After Simone Biles failed to make the Junior National Team in 2013 she went back to the gym and reviewed her videos with her coach, Aimee. In her book, Courage to Soar, she says:
“As we reviewed my videos, we talked about my tendency to overthink my performance, which made me tighten up. And when I’m tight, mistakes are inevitable. I’m not in control; my nervous energy is running the show. Aimee talked to me about adding hours to my training regiment so that I could become so rock solid on all my skills, I could go out and just enjoy myself in competition.”
So just by watching the playbacks of her routines Simone was able to detect the way she was tightening up in competition which was helpful for her in understanding where she could make improvements in the future.
Just like Simone, it’s possible that there are things you didn’t realize you were doing until you saw them on video. So use the videos of your routines to your advantage and have a look to see what’s going on in competition. You just might be surprised at what you see!
Number 2: Write Down At Least 5 Things You Did Well On At Your Meet
After you watch your routines, it’s extremely important to FIRST focus on at least five things you did well on at your meet. If you’ve had a particularly difficult meet then this might be hard to do at first and you might be inclined to point out all the negatives. But if you really think about your meet and all of your routines we’re sure you’ll find some positives.
Remember, it’s super easy to pick apart your routines and focus only on the things you did less than your best on. However, taking the time to remind yourself of what went right is a great way to shift your focus to the positive. The better you feel about your meet results, the better you’ll do in future meets.
If you’re having a difficult time coming up with five positives, start small. These can be more general things you did right and don’t necessarily have to be focused on particular skills. For example, maybe you stayed on beam for your entire routine when in the past you’ve fallen? Maybe you smiled at the judges during your salute when you typically keep a straight face? Or maybe you cheered on your teammates and were a great support system for them throughout the meet? Those are all positive things that you should be proud of. So get the wheels of your brain turning and write down at least five positive things from your meet.
What if you had a really great meet and performed your best?
Don’t skip this step. It’s equally important to write down all the things you did well on even if you had a successful meet. In this case, your list will be longer than just five things! Take the time to write down everything that went well at your meet. The more, the better!
This positives list will be important to look back on so make it a good one. You want to use your positives to your advantage and gain some good momentum going forward into your next meet.
Number 3: Don’t Sweat Your Mistakes; Use Them As Information Instead
Now that you’re in a more positive frame of mind, it’s time to learn from your mistakes. If you’ve just had a challenging meet, your brain might be racing with all the things you think you did wrong at your meet.
You promised yourself you’d keep your legs straight and point your toes but when you got up to compete you forgot about that and had terrible form. You swore this time you’d stay with your floor music but you got so nervous you raced ahead and then lost your place in your routine. You willed yourself to stay up on beam but the only thing you could think about was not falling and inevitably you fell off. Not once, but twice!
The first thing to remember is that it’s OK. We all make mistakes and without mistakes growth can’t happen. Instead of dwelling on your mistakes, though, use those mistakes as information for how you can do better in the future.
For example, when you fell off the beam what did that tell you? Were you really nervous? If so, next time you need to focus on your pre-competition routine and ways to calm your nerves before you go up to compete.
Were you off-balance? If so, during the week you need to practice that skill over and over until you can nail it in your sleep, putting extra focus on engaging your core and pulling up through your center.
Did you rush through your floor music? If so, practice doing your routine in the gym over and over AND make sure to take some big calming breaths before you go on to compete floor next time. It’s natural for adrenaline to speed you up when you’re performing unless you make a conscious effort to take your time.
It’s really easy to focus on your mistakes and to feel badly about yourself because of them. And though it’s not wrong to feel disappointed that you didn’t do better, you want to learn from your mistakes instead of dwell on them. So rather than focusing on every mistake you made, use it as a source of information to learn how you can improve on your routines in your next meet.
Number 4: Write Down 3 Things You Will Work On In Practice
Now that you’ve reviewed both the positives and negatives in your routines, the next thing to do is to write down three things you will work on during the week in practice. Pick the three things you think would make the most difference at your next meet. Do this even if you’ve had a great meet as you can continue to focus on making your routines even better.
After you’ve written down three things that you will work on during practice, it’s time to get to work in the gym.
If you noticed your toes were flexed and legs were apart then make it your mission to focus on keeping your toes pointed and legs glued together during practice. If you felt less than confident during your meet and you noticed your mannerisms reflected that, commit to keeping your chin up and chest lifted when you salute your coach and teammates during your practice routines.
The more you practice the things that didn’t work in your meet while you’re in practice, the more likely you’ll be able to perform them better at your next meet.
Often gymnasts have this idea that in competition they will magically fix all their mistakes because it will feel different when they’re competing and they will do better. But that’s not the case. If you aren’t putting these things into play in practice then you won’t be successful at doing them consistently at meets.
While adrenaline can help you in your competition, it can also cause you to make mistakes if you aren’t prepared. So don’t rely on the excitement of a meet to help you do better. Instead rely on practice. At the end of week you should feel good about your preparation and be more confident going into your next meet.
Number 5: Remind Yourself That Your Score Doesn’t Determine Your Self-Worth
While it’s hard to accept a low score during a gymnastics meet, remember that it’s only a number! And a number doesn’t determine who you are as a person. Gymnastics is a sport where perfection is idolized and judges are trained to give deductions. One of the hardest things to do is perform a routine in front of a pair of eyes that are watching your every move. So pat yourself on the back for having the courage to even put yourself out there at all.
Elite gymnasts have had scores they’re not proud of. They’ve made mistakes in competition. They’ve missed earning medals. They’ve fallen on their routines or stepped out of bounds. Mistakes happen to EVERY gymnast. And while it’s normal to feel upset about your mistakes and to cry or spend time thinking about them, just don’t let them keep you down for too long.
Give yourself time to sulk and then lift up your chin, tell yourself “no more tears” and push forward. You’ve got this!
At the end of the day you also can’t control where you place in regards to other gymnasts. But you CAN control the way you respond to your nerves, the effort you put into your routines, your confidence, and your mindset. While it’s easy to get down on yourself about not having performed as well as you’d like, remember that your ultimate goal is to grow as a gymnast. Without struggle, there would be no growth! Embrace the struggle and then vow to put in the work to get better.
There you have it – 5 things to do after your gymnastics meet to help you improve in the future. First, remember that you need to unwind after a meet in the way that feels the best to you. So if you need a few hours or days before thinking about your meet then take it. When you’re ready, review videos of your routines so you can notice what’s going on when you compete. Then, write down at least five positives that happened at your meet. After that you can evaluate your mistakes and use those mistakes as information for how you can improve. With this information, you can then write down three things you will work on in practice. During the week make sure you actually practice those things! Finally, remind yourself that your score is just a number and that it doesn’t determine what kind of person you are.
If you keep implementing these strategies after a meet, then the next time you go to compete you’ll feel better about yourself and the competition. Also, when you go to your next meet remind yourself that it’s a fresh start. It’s easy to carry the weight of a past unsuccessful meet with you the next time you go to compete. You might be replaying the mistakes you made at your last meet or thinking about your failures from the past. But what’s done is done from your past meets. It’s time to let that go and start over with a clean slate. One of the best things you can do is take your list of positives with you to your next meet and read through those. This will remind yourself of all the things you’ve done right in the past at meets.