Many times as adults we forget to recognize the positive improvements we make when working towards achieving a goal and solely focus on that we have not entirely accomplished it yet… During any sport, especially one such as acrobatics which requires countless repetitions in order to master a single skill; this negative focus can be enhanced in the mind of a child. Most of the time athletes possess such a strong desire to accomplish a particular skill that they forget to see all of the small, yet extremely important improvements they are making towards achieving the big picture.
When thinking in terms of motility, complex is an understatement when it comes to doing acrobatic elements. Your brain has to command your body to do more things than you can count on two hands within a 2 second window! This complex mind-body connection forces every acrobat to do countless repetitions or drills to simulate the correct body movements until it becomes a muscle memory. This is why the learning process can seem to take so long in a child’s eyes… They tend to only look at want to go from zero knowledge of a skill to a perfect end result, yet they look beyond all of the stairs they must climb in between to get there!
Let’s say for example that ten puzzle pieces make up an entire skill… Every single piece that is connected to the unfinished puzzle should be recognized and celebrated, and only then will the enthusiasm to connect the next piece come!
When asking your athlete how a practice went don’t accept “Okay” or “Not good” for answers without explanation because 99% of the time you will find that your athlete is only considering that day’s practice as an okay or bad day because they did not “complete their puzzle”. A simple thing to do at home as a part of goal setting (see post about Inspiration Boards) is after each practice have your athlete tell you, or better yet have them write down on their inspiration board (to make the visual connection) 5 positive improvements they made that day. Doing this increases their self-esteem and also allows them to feel proud of themselves for their hard work! It will also spark new short-term goals and keep them focused on how to accomplish what they want!
Athletes need to learn that in sports and in life, keeping a positive attitude is what enables you to accomplish goals which are challenging, otherwise it is natural to have the feeling to give up! We can prevent frustration and keep our athletes hungry to learn by playing up the positive!