This time of year it’s common to hear the buzz word “self-love” floating around. February is basically synonymous with self-love, self-care, and any other word that describes forms of love either directed inward towards yourself or outward towards others.
But the truth is, despite the hype this time of year, self-love is an important skill for gymnasts to work on all year long and yet it’s not one that garners a lot of attention as a crucial skill that gymnasts should be working on. Sadly, we wish this wasn’t the case.
Our goal as parents and coaches is to help our gymnasts grow into the best gymnasts they can be. Yet, ironically, self-love is not thought of immediately when we think about building up a gymnast’s skill set. Instead, we might think of ways to help a gymnast learn new physical skills or how to help her feel confident about her gymnastics ability. Rarely do coaches focus on the self-love component in gymnastics.
The definition of self-love is “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.” It’s also “an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.” Children who are high on the self-love scale treat themselves kindly rather than harshly. They have a non-judging attitude so they don’t over identify with their failures or with negative events. They allow themselves to be human and make mistakes. They accept their shortcomings and work to overcome them with compassion and grace. They understand there is no perfection but that flaws are natural.
Aren’t these all qualities you’d want your gymnast to embody?
We think so!
While confidence is not mentioned in the definition of self-love, it’s an important by-product of it, too. So not only is self-love a necessary component of a gymnast’s “toolbox,” it also causes a trickle-down effect of other traits needed to do well in gymnastics.
Want to download our 5 Day Self-Love Challenge Packet for Gymnasts to help your gymnast increase her self-love?
How Self-Love Affects Confidence in Gymnastics
Consider this…you have a gymnast with low self-love.
She gives up easily because she thinks she should learn a skill right away and she hasn’t yet. She’s really hard on herself. She compares herself to other gymnasts and thinks she should be more like the other gymnasts. She says “I can’t” often, and she scolds herself with negative self-talk because of it. She’s not motivated to try because she’s already given up on herself. She gets down on herself for not learning skills faster, especially when she gets stuck on a skill that she really needs for a certain level like a kip or a round-off backhandspring.
Naturally her confidence in herself and her gymnastics ability is low. And chances are, she’s not going to make it far in gymnastics. In fact, she might not even stick around until the next season if given the choice.
Now imagine if this same gymnast had more compassion for herself. Imagine if when she tried a new skill and failed, she told herself “It’s ok, I’ll get it soon.” Imagine if she saw her failures as separate from herself and not as part of who she was. Imagine if she accepted her flaws in gymnastics as part of being human and worked hard to overcome them instead of letting them get her down.
Without a doubt her higher level of self-love would cause her to try harder and put more effort into gymnastics because she’d have more belief in her ability to work through hard situations.
And as a result, her confidence level would be higher.
Bottom line – Self-love is an important quality to foster in gymnasts as it forms the basis of other necessary skills. To drive home this point, watch the video below as we speak about the importance of self-love in gymnastics.
How Do We Increase Self-Love In Gymnasts
So how do we take a gymnast with little self-love and turn her into a confident, self-loving gymnast?
We teach her the tools to build up her self-love and then we help her practice these tools over and over again. Below are some tips for how to teach self-love in gymnasts.
- Start each practice with a self-love circle. Have gymnasts go around and say one thing they were proud of doing during their last practice. Get their brains turning and thinking about their positive qualities. At first it might be tough to get responses but keep doing it. Eventually they’ll all love to share their positives with everyone (especially the younger gymnasts).
- While gymnasts are sitting around in the locker room or lobby waiting for the start of practice, create something they can do that encourages self-love. Have a large poster board or roll of paper that you write the date on and ask a question of the day that every gymnast fills in before they walk into the gym. Maybe “Name one skill you’re really good at” or “What is your “word” for the day?” Anything to get their brains setting intentions and thinking in a more positive way before practice even begins. They can read each other’s answers and get a good smile or giggle in before practice begins.
- Start a team gratitude jar. Have a set of small note paper next to an empty jar and encourage gymnasts to write down something they saw their teammates do that was positive. During the last practice of the week, read the gratitude notes out loud. You can make the sender’s name anonymous at first so gymnasts don’t get embarrassed by what they wrote. One of the most powerful forms of building up self-love is to hear others tell you what they love about you.
- Encourage and/or help your gymnast to create a self-love board filled with things she loves. Have her cut and paste (or draw) things that are near and dear to her heart. This is one way to get her to feel good and to express her own love for her life. The love she puts out into a place where she can see it often, will help her to feel more love for herself.
- Show her how to create a Self-Love log or Gratitude Journal. Have her write down 3 things she loves about herself or that she thought she did great that day and then repeat this every day. The act of reading about those good traits can make things feel more believable. Plus, she’ll be able to look back at all the great things she’s done for a quick confidence boost when she’s feeling down.
Have her write a note of appreciation to a friend or family member. A great way to feel love for your own self is to give it out to others. This process of finding the good traits in another and then writing them down in a note is an effective way to
- Have her write herself a love letter. Ask her to address a letter to herself and to write down all the things she loves about herself as if she is an outside person writing the letter. You might have to help her through this process, but this is a great way for her to hone in on her positive traits and to feel good about herself.
Coaches and parents, be sure to download and go through our 5-Day Self-Love Challenge with your gymnast as a fun way to practice self-love.
These are just ideas to get you started. The point is to provide opportunities for your gymnast to notice her good traits, to feel good about who she is as a person, and to be appreciated for the things that make her uniquely her.
So while self-love is a buzz word that runs rampant this time of year, it is in fact an important skill that all gymnasts must learn. It’s also key that these self-love exercises are done over and over so that your gymnast has multiple opportunities to practice and build up this skill. The more she practices it, the more it will become second nature and you’ll actually see a shift in her attitude in the gym.
As we said earlier, gymnasts who have low self-love think things are outside of their control. They have little or no growth mindset. They blame outside circumstances for their failures and this makes them feel worse about themselves because they have no power.
They remember the times they fail over and over in their minds instead of the times they succeed. They are hard on themselves. They’re critical. They don’t think they deserve to succeed. They give up on themselves because they have no evidence to prove they should do otherwise.
On the other hand, children with more self-love are more willing to try. They take healthy risks. They believe they can try hard and do something. They laugh at themselves. They take failure in stride. They are willing to try new things and to do hard things because they believe in themselves.
We hope you can see how building up this skill is crucial to helping a gymnast reach her full potential. Comment below and let us know if our 5 Day Self-Love Challenge was helpful!