Today’s Topic: Having Practice During Summer Vacation
Hi, everybody! I’m Coach Rebecca Smith, here for the weekly live Q&A with Coach Rebecca. I am the owner, founder of Complete Performance Coaching and the PerformHappy Community. We help young athletes boost confidence, get over fear, find their flow, and perform happy.
We do this through my fabulous team of highly educated sports psychology professionals who specialize in working with youth athletes, and also through the self-service online training community that is not really self-service because I’m in there guiding you personally along your mental toughness training journey.
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I have questions from two moms in the PerformHappy Community that I’m going to address today which I think is perfectly timed for where we are in the season.
A lot of you are finishing up school and thinking about vacation, which is really exciting and awesome, and for some people, terrifying.
You may have coaches who give you the side eye about taking vacation, who make comments like, “Oh, you’re going on vacation again…”
It makes me think about a swimmer whose family opted to travel in the summer, and she never rose to the level that she wanted to be at because they were always on these fabulous, amazing, culture rich vacations.
But it’s a choice that families have to make: “Can we? Can we not? Do we have to keep training? Is she going to be behind when she gets back? Are her teammates working their butts off while we’re visiting Grandma, and then we’re going to be punished for it?”
Last week, Coach Sarah gave a really great talk on balance, and I’m going to piggyback on a lot of the great things that she said. If you didn’t have a chance to check that out, feel free to check out the Facebook page with all the different Facebook Live videos from all the Complete Performance Coaching coaches. I’d encourage you to check out Sarah’s talk on balance if you’re wondering if your family is doing the best things possible for your athlete’s sense of balance.
Here are the questions:
Q: My daughter is in a great place with her backward tumbling. She’s consistently doing all of her tumbling on the floor, in her routines, without any coaches nearby. She has the rest this week of practice and then we leave for a week to go on vacation.
How do we keep her confidence and skills while we’re on vacation? I have tried to get creative, thought we could possibly slide a mattress on the hotel floor so she could at least do back handsprings. I just want to avoid any major backslides due to this break. She has a lot of confidence right now, but I’m just a little worried. (I don’t let her know this)
Then the cheer mom chimed in with the following question:
Q: Our daughter is also slowly progressing in the right direction, and then we leave for a two week vacation at the end of the month. Is it better to just let them be? Or is it added pressure to try and get them to practice tumbling while on vacation? I even looked at gym options in our vacation area. But I feel like our daughter, who has a lot of anxiety, would shut down if we brought her to a gym where she knows no one.
This is a gymnastics mom and a cheer mom who both have kids that were struggling with tumbling not too long ago. It’s never a good idea to think, “Should we be worried, kid? Are we worried?” You know, obviously she’s in charge of her own worry. But parents, you have a lot of affect, so if you’re like, “Oh no, we’re going on vacation.” She might pick up on that worry.
My Gymnastics Past
This flashed me back to my time as a gymnast. My dad lived in Oregon, my mom lived in California, and in the summer we’d go to Oregon for a couple of weeks at least. So we always went and trained at this other gym., it wasn’t even a question. I remember when I was struggling most with my back tumbling and it was in that gym in Oregon.
A New Environment
I can’t help but think of things to consider, especially in this situation where it’s a week or it’s two weeks, it’s not a month or six months. If you have an athlete who is not a valiant communicator, then it’s a risk you might want to consider carefully. If your athlete doesn’t feel comfortable in this new environment saying, “Excuse me, coach, actually I don’t feel comfortable doing what you’re asking me to do. Can I offer this substitute thing because of my process of building confidence?” They might look at you weird.
Or worse, you might not feel comfortable enough to say that, you won’t say it, you don’t get the help you need, you end up balking or bailing on a skill, and you’ve majorly set back your confidence.
You don’t want to think, “Doomsday, fear, don’t do it!” But I have a client who I worked with who was already struggling with a new skill and went on vacation and went to a new gym. What put the nail in the coffin for the skills was when the coach asked her to do it, she responded, “Maybe I’ll be able to do it in this new gym. I’ll try.” She bailed out and then it set her back. She had to learn how to communicate with her coaches. Now she knows if she goes to another gym she has to speak up for herself.
Can Your Athlete Speak Up for Themselves?
If you have the type of athlete who you can trust to speak up for themselves, then yes, if they want to go train at another gym, awesome. That’s the key – it’s want. There are some athletes that know they have to keep training or else they will mess themselves up. They know it’s important and can’t have any downtime.
Unfortunately, they can get in this obsessive fear-based place of thinking that if they take time off they will be in trouble. We don’t want to be driving anybody’s sport career on that type of thinking. I call that obsessive passion, where they think, “I must keep practicing, I must condition at home, I must whatever.” That’s what turns into these other obsessive types of behaviors that don’t make for happy people, happy athletes, happy kids.
I don’t recommend that.
Practicing During Summer Vacation
What we want to hear from our athletes is, “Hey, mom, it would be fun if we went to a trampoline park while we’re there so that I can work on my tumbling. I would love to get a little practice in.” If that’s what they’re asking for and you’re getting the vibe that they want to work on their skills, that they would miss it if they weren’t working for a few weeks, then that’s a positive thing.
That’s what it was for my brother and I when we were in Oregon; we wanted to do it, we wanted to tumble. He had so much energy and wanted to be on the trampoline and we wanted to get him in the gym as many days as possible or he would explode.
I loved gymnastics and I loved doing it, and I wanted to do more and more and more of it. It made sense that we would find a gym where I could go train for two weeks while I was with my dad.
My Struggle with Tumbling
But again, I struggled with my tumbling there because I couldn’t speak up. I didn’t feel as comfortable speaking up to a brand new coach as I did to my coach at home who kind of knew when I needed something like a spot. That’s something to consider.
Is it Your Problem as a Parent or Your Athlete’s Problem?
Mom, I just want to double check, is it her worry or is it your worry? That’s something you want to notice. If she’s not worried and she’s saying, “Let’s go to the beach. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait! Let’s sleep in and watch movies and have a good time.” Fabulous. Do that. Don’t even talk about gymnastics. If that’s what needs to happen, that’s what needs to happen.
Like Coach Sarah was saying last week, have fun, take breaks, breathe, and do things that you can’t do when you are in school and training like crazy. So if you want to just go, not talk about her sport, have a great time, and let her rest, then do it. If she’s not worried, don’t worry.
Some things you could ask are good questions like, “Hey, how are you feeling about your tumbling? You’re about to take a week off, you cool? I’m totally fine with you taking a full on week and us not talking about it. Do you want to practice? Do you not?” Ask what they want from you. Do they want you to shut up about it, or do they want you to support them in getting some practice in? Then whatever they say, leave it.
Have a Conversation
If you don’t even feel like that conversation is going to land well, don’t have it. Basically there’s a spectrum of things you could do: take the week off completely. You’re going to have consequences either way and they’re going to have a little bit of a reentry process when they get back, and that is totally normal and totally okay.
Option A: Don’t Talk About It
Don’t do anything. See if she wants to tumble down on the beach or wherever is safe. If not, leave her be and have a great time.
Option B: Visualize
Work on your affirmations and your visualizing. At the end of the day, write down some positive thoughts about your trip, not even about tumbling. Write some really great, positive things, and then visualize yourself as if you’d had a really great practice and then go to bed.
Do it All
The other end of the spectrum is do it all. Find a gym, get some numbers in, practice as if you never even left off, like you’re full on training – mental training.
I’m guessing that we’ll probably end up more toward A and B because these kids need a break and that’s okay. Once you’ve filled up the gas tank and your batteries are charged up and you have this great time with family, be ready to rebuild. These kids know what to do; they know what works and they have already dug themselves out of these massive fear holes, so they know exactly what to do.
Taking Small Steps
You as an athlete know to go in and check in with yourself. If your confidence feels down, that’s where you need to start. Instead of starting with a skill, speak to your coach. If your coach rolls their eyes because you took a vacation when they wish you hadn’t, then whatever. This is what you are going to work on, and when you go back tomorrow you will have made a baby step forward and will continue to move forward.
Make sure to cut yourself some slack and realize you may be a little behind when you get back, but make a plan on how to handle it. Give yourself a week to get back to where you were when you left off.
Moms, there might be an extra leap of faith in there that they’ll have to deal with, but they’re going to be fine. That should be your attitude. Tell yourself they’re going to be fine. They know exactly what to do. One week is not going to hurt them. Don’t worry about this.
Give Yourself a Plan
Even if you’re worried about getting set back to square one, just tell yourself, “We got this, we got this, kid.” Negative self-talk is the worst thing that they can do and it’s the worst thing you can do. Fake it ’til you make it. Your kid’s going to be awesome. There aren’t going to be any setbacks, they’ll be super confident right away.
Those are my tips for today. Any questions, send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want a guided visualization that you can use on vacation or on an airplane, I have one for the specific purpose of confidence building. You can download that at completeperformancecoaching.com/confidence. I can’t remember how long it is, but it’s a nice thing to just plug in and listen to, boost your confidence up a little bit, and then go back to having fun. All right, I’ll see you soon.