For many gymnasts, this was the time of year you were gearing up to get ready for your State meets. When the pandemic hit, meets got cancelled and gyms were abruptly closed leaving so many of you dazed and confused in the aftermath of the quarantine.
At first, it felt acceptable knowing your gym would be closed for a week or two to help stop the spread of germs. But when things got worse and gyms started closing indefinitely, it became harder to face the truth that gymnastics was over (for this season anyway). Unfortunately it’s a reality that even elite gymnasts have had to face as the Summer Olympics that they were all training hard for were also cancelled until next year.
Making that mental shift from preparing to compete your best to having no gym at all is a tough shift to make. And without a doubt, the season almost feels wasted without some sort of closure. So to help you move forward and to come to terms with it all, we have some tips to get you through this time. With the aid of these tips, our hope is that you can create closure for yourself and this gymnastics season so you can look ahead toward your summer training and next year’s season in the best possible frame of mind.
Read the tips below and then you can fill out this End-of-Quarantine Season Review to put this season behind you and focus on next season.
Tip #1: Allow Yourself To Grieve the Loss of Gymnastics But Don’t Dwell There Too Long
Your mindset is super important during your season but it’s also especially important now as you reluctantly conclude your season and move forward. Sure, we’re all disappointed in the way things ended for the gymnastics community this season. It’s not easy to have a season end so abruptly with very little warning and little to no chance of your meets being rescheduled this season.
As a result, it’s certainly alright to give yourself some time to grieve and feel the loss of your season. You’re upset and that’s understandable. Your life has been temporarily upended and now things are very different than they had been for you just a few weeks before. It’s ok to have moments from time to time when you let your emotions out and grieve about what’s going on. Your gym life is not the way it used to be. You miss your gym friends, you miss your coaches, you miss the fun you had at practice, you miss the way you felt after you were done with a practice, you miss competing, you miss team events, you miss jumping in the pit, you miss it all!
So allow yourself to be upset. Allow yourself to cry. Allow yourself to be sad for a while. Let yourself feel it all because your feelings are very real to you and your feelings matter. And let’s face it – this is a tough situation to be in. It’s perfectly acceptable and even necessary to grieve. However, it’s also important that you don’t let your sadness take you down permanently. While we don’t know exactly how long this situation will go on for, we do know that at some point in the future you will be back in the gym again and all of this will be a distant memory.
Tip #2: Ask Yourself – What Does the Sudden Loss of Gymnastics Make Me Appreciate About It?
Sometimes the greatest gift of losing something that is so dear to your heart is appreciating it even more than you did before. So while this gymnastics season didn’t end the way you hoped it would, it doesn’t have to be all negative. It can be a chance for you to reaffirm your love for gymnastics and can also serve as a reminder to appreciate this amazing sport for all its positives.
With that being said, this situation is the perfect opportunity for you to work on strengthening your positive attitude. As a good way to do this, think of at least 3 things you love about gymnastics and write them down. Appreciation has been shown to improve so many aspects of life, but can also make a tough situation feel easier. So not only are you setting yourself up for a better gymnastics experience when you get back in the gym, you’re also making your current situation feel better.
So get to work thinking of the things you appreciate about gymnastics. Do you love gymnastics because you love to flip, love to learn new skills, enjoy seeing your gym friends, like training hard, or love seeing your progress? Does your gym feel like a second home? Do you love the sport as a whole? Does doing gymnastics make you feel strong? Does being on a team make you feel proud?
Again, focusing on the things you appreciate about gymnastics will prime your brain to look for more positives in your current situation. One way to keep this going is to come up with 3 new things every day you appreciate about gymnastics or to re-read your original list every day. This list will help you remember why you love gymnastics so much and will help you feel excited to get back in the gym when this quarantine is over.
Tip #3 – Focus On What You Can Control About This Situation
While your season might have ended, it doesn’t mean you have to stop training for gymnastics. When gymnasts are injured, they are forced to stay away from most, if not all, gymnastics skills until their injuries are healed. During that time they don’t give up on gymnastics completely. They just redirect their efforts to do the things that will be most beneficial for them while their normal activities are temporarily restricted.
So during this time, take back some control by asking yourself what you CAN do now while you wait for your gym to reopen. Think of this quarantine as a timeout from gymnastics because of an injury. It isn’t an invitation to completely stop doing gymnastics exercises, it’s just a time to refocus on different aspects of gymnastics. While you can’t control what is going on in the world, you CAN control what you do about it. So use this time to your advantage by working on the little things you need to improve on that you rarely have time to focus on during the season.
What are some of the smaller aspects of gymnastics you can focus on now? Some of these are conditioning, flexibility, and mindset drills. You can follow a plan that your gym might have given you before the quarantine started with gymnastics drills you can do at home or you can join something like SkillTrakker’s Beat The Quarantine Challenge that gives you daily drills to work on for the month of April. In either case, the idea is to continue to “train” for gymnastics and to prepare yourself as much as possible so that when you return to gymnastics you are in a better place than if you had stopped all together.
Tip #4: Evaluate Your Season As If It Had Actually Ended
While your season ended abruptly, it’s important that you find closure in what you have already done over the past year so you can put this season behind you and focus on the next one. Just like you would for any other typical season, ask yourself what things were working for you this season and which ones were not.
Did you feel better prepared as you were getting ready for your State meets compared to last year? Compared to this time last year, were you feeling better about your progress, the same, or worse? Were you less nervous to compete this season? Were you learning skills but having trouble controlling your nerves at meets? Were you low on confidence when training your skills and/or when competing? Were you low on sleep and overwhelmed with schoolwork?
You can use last year’s season as a basis of comparison for how things were going this season. The goal here is to identify the areas of gymnastics that were going well for you so you can continue to do them next season, as well as those you were struggling on so that you course correct them before the next season begins.
With all this extra time at home, you now have the time to work on changing these things right now, even before you get back into the gym. For example:
- Were you getting better at your mental game? Great. Don’t stop now. Keep training your mental routines daily.
- Were you getting stronger or more flexible? Perfect. There are many conditioning drills and flexibility exercises you can do at home now to keep this aspect of your training going throughout the quarantine.
- Were you fearful of learning new skills? This is the perfect time to work on your mental imagery and to see yourself doing those new skills in your mind every day.
- Were you overwhelmed with school work and felt like you didn’t have enough time to fit everything in? Now is the time to hone in on your organizational skills and to practice setting up a schedule for yourself and utilizing your time effectively.
- Were you low on sleep? Now you have plenty of time to start going to sleep at an early hour and getting in your full night of sleep so that you can get your body rested and ready to go full force once the quarantine is over.
- Did you get really nervous before meets? You can practice your breathing exercises and learn new techniques to calm your nerves while you’re stuck at home. These techniques are best learned when there is low stress so that you already know how to do them when a stressful situation arises.
Most of these things are things you can start working on right now. Not next season, not after your gym reopens, but NOW! So take advantage of this time at home.
Tip #5: Create a New At-Home Gymnastics Routine
Before the quarantine started you had a routine for gymnastics (and your life). Maybe you went to the gym three or four times per week and competed on the weekends. While you can’t get to the gym right now, you can still create a gymnastics routine for yourself while you’re home.
On the days that you were supposed to go to the gym set aside an hour to re-create your own practice. Start with a warmup, do some conditioning exercises, stretching, and then work your basic fundamental skills. End your session by running through the dance portion of your routines followed by mental imagery for each of your routines. *Please do not train any skills at home you cannot do safely on your own and stick to easier skills with low risk of injury. There will be plenty of time to do your harder skills again once you get back in the gym.*
If you get into a habit of doing your new routine a few times per week (or more), you’ll have established a predictable routine that will feel good to you. The beauty of a routine is that it creates stability which helps things feel less chaotic in your life. In addition, getting into a new routine will help you feel better about the current situation and help you miss your gym just a little less. On the other hand, when you continue to dwell on what you’ve lost, you’ll have a hard time getting through these next few weeks or months.
We know how hard it is to suddenly have gymnastics taken away which is why it’s important to find closure for yourself. It’s acceptable and necessary to grieve the loss of gymnastics, just don’t stay there too long because you need to adapt and adjust to your new circumstances. By focusing on the things you appreciate about gymnastics, you’ll set yourself up for a more positive experience in the present as well as when you get back in the gym. In the meantime, you should focus on the things you CAN control about this situation, such as the conditioning and flexibility drills you can continue to do at home and the mental training you might not have time for during the season. Also, to give yourself closure around this season ending so abruptly, be sure to analyze the things that were working for you and the ones that were not so you can make changes when next season comes. Finally, to get yourself over the sudden loss of gymnastics, be sure to create a new routine for yourself that can include your own gymnastics practice a few times per week. While all of this is tough right now, in a few months you will back into a new routine and remembering this experience as something that made you stronger. Good luck to our gymnastics family and stay healthy!