Have you ever gone through something in your life that you just can’t seem to resolve? Maybe you’ve wanted to break up with your mate, but those words just stay on the tip of your tongue. Maybe you’ve thought about joining a gym but the thought of seeing yourself in shorts prevents you from making the trip. Or maybe you keep telling yourself that this drink will be the last.
Recently I experienced a mental block of a different type and it drove me crazy. I mentioned my last competition the first week of March and how upset I was at myself for putting my hands down on my roundoff backhandspring backtuck tumbling pass. It’s a skill I’ve been able to do since I was six so why would my first stumble be in front of an international crowd?
Well, I let the fall get to me and stay in my head. My next competition (the big one) is this weekend and for the past several weeks I have not been able to throw that tumbling pass. When I’d get to it in the routine, I’d tell myself that I was too tired and would just skip it. Other times I was yelling at myself in the practice room mirror “Come on Yeager, you can do this.” Sometimes I would dread getting out of bed at just the thought of doing it. A skill that I’ve been able to do forever, was now a skill in which I became nervous and feared.
I went and met with my trainer a couple of weeks ago and shared with her my thoughts and struggle. She suggested to no longer do that skill and do something similar, yet different. I didn’t automatically agree with her. Part of me felt as if I needed to conquer my mental block and see my way through it. If you don’t face your fears, they will always remain fears. So, for the past two weeks I practiced the initial skill and the suggested skill.
Then it happened. Last Thursday night I was just sitting at home watching tv. This feeling shot through my body that said ‘go through your routine – NOW!’ So I threw on some workout clothes, grabbed my boombox, put on my performance shoes and drove to the gym. Without stretching or anything I threw my entire routine – with the ‘feared’ skill! It felt wonderful to throw and let me know that I still had the ability to do it. I went on a recorded both skills in the routine and went home that night to watch them.
In the end I ended up switching to the skill suggested by my trainer because it actually looked better. I was happy with that decision because I know I wasn’t doing it to avoid a fear, instead I was doing it to improve my routine. This weekend I’ll be in Charleston, SC trying to improve my rankings on the National stage. Wish me luck!
M.Y. May 2009