Five Fears Trampoline and Gymnastics Athletes Must Over Come
Fear is a very powerful feeling. It governs mush of our natural behaviour; it is at times an engine for behaviour, and as such, often misunderstood. It is seen by many as something that we need to eradicate from our experiences or that by some philosophical reason or other, we should not have. This idea is patently false. Fear is healthy. Being afraid of bumps in the night, wrestling in the tall grass, and thunderous noises has ensured the survival of our species for the last several hundred thousand years, and to an extent it still does. While many of these can apply to athletes in many fields, what follows is in my opinion, a list of five fears trampoline and gymnastics athletes need to overcome, especially those athletes in competitive programs. The first two of this list are common fears that can be dealt with by simple progressions and the last three (three different manifestations of the same fear) are not to be downplayed or underestimated. Whenever possible, seek the assistance of a professional when dealing with fears exhibited by an athlete.
1 Fear of heights – Fear of falling
While this may seem extremely obvious to those who have seen the sports of trampoline and gymnastics being performed, it is more prevalent than most would think. Fear of heights is common to most human beings; it is the innate understanding that falling from a certain height can cause injury to the body – another gift from evolution. Successful trampolinists are not immune to this; they have simply learned to regulate the fear of falling through training. If an athlete is afraid of jumping high the intensity of their jump should be increased gradually in efforts to see the higher bounces as a natural, logical progression. Do note that as coaches, we want our athletes to respect height, and to control the fear of falling as this will keep them safe even when attempting skills of high degree of difficulty.
2 Tachophobia – Fear of speed
Something more obscure than the popular fear of heights, yet, very common according to psychological research. Tachophobia is the fear of speed, and while it is often associated with speeding vehicles it also applies to fast paced physical movement, or even social and life changes. Trampoline and gymnastic athletes will experience fear of fast motion in instances of acceleration due to gravity or force exerted on equipment such as spring boards, trampolines, tumbling floors. Swinging on bars because of the position of the head and eyes can also result on experiences of tachophobia. Let’s remember that this particular fear is closely related to fear of heights and as suggested in that section, it should be dealt with a gradual increase in the intensity of the exercise being performed.
Stay tuned next week for part 2 of this fantastic article.
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