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Mastering Competition Day: 6 Essential Tips For Gymnasts

July 13th, 2023 | 4 min. read

Mastering Competition Day: 6 Essential Tips For Gymnasts
Kayla Brook

Kayla Brook

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // Dry Needling Certified // Orthopedic Certified Specialist // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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Competition day in gymnastics is an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience for athletes. It's the culmination of months, or even years, of hard work and dedication. A combination of mental and physical preparation is critical to perform at your best and maximize your potential. Every gymnast needs to ensure their body can handle the demand of their sport  - we love helping our gymnasts toward this goal at EW Motion Therapy. While you may decide that our services don’t fit your needs, you can still read on as we explore some essential tips to help gymnasts shine on competition day. 


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Visualize success

Mental preparation is crucial for gymnasts, and visualization is a powerful tool. Take time before the competition to visualize yourself executing your routines powerfully and precisely. Picture every detail, from your mount to your final salute. By envisioning success, you'll instill confidence and trust in your training, helping you perform best when it matters most.


Develop a pre-competition routine

Establishing a consistent pre-competition routine helps create a sense of familiarity and calm. A pre-competition routine is essential for gymnasts to prepare mentally and physically before taking the floor. Here are some critical elements to consider when creating a pre-competition routine:


Warm-up exercises

Perform a structured warm-up routine to prepare your muscles and joints for competition demands. Include dynamic stretches, such as arm circles, leg swings, and lunges, to increase blood flow and flexibility. Gradually increase the intensity of your warm-up, incorporating gymnastics-specific movements and skills.


Mental preparation

Take time to focus your mind and get into a positive mindset. Engage in activities that help calm your nerves and build confidence. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or visualization techniques can be beneficial. Visualize yourself executing your routines, feeling confident, and achieving success. Positive self-talk can also help boost your confidence and reinforce your preparation.


Skill progressions and drills

Include skill progressions and drills specific to your routines. This helps reinforce muscle memory and technique. Break down each skill into its individual components and practice them with precision. By reinforcing proper form and execution through focused drills, you'll feel more confident and ready to perform when it's time to compete.


Mental focus exercises

Incorporate mental focus exercises to improve concentration and reduce distractions. This can include visualization of routines, mindfulness exercises, or engaging in mental puzzles or games. The goal is to train your mind to stay present and focused during the competition, blocking out external distractions and negative thoughts.


Timing and routine rehearsal

Practice the timing of your routines, ensuring that you have a good sense of pacing and rhythm. Perform your routines multiple times in the practice area or on a mock competition floor to simulate the actual competition environment. This helps you develop a sense of familiarity and confidence in executing your routines to the best of your ability.


Remember, the pre-competition routine should be tailored to your needs and preferences. Experiment with different elements and find what works best for you. Consistency is critical, so follow your routine before each competition to create a sense of familiarity and readiness.


Focus on the present

Feeling nervous on competition day is natural, but dwelling on those nerves can harm your performance. Instead, focus on the present moment. Concentrate on each skill, one at a time, and trust in your training. You’ll stay grounded and perform to the best of your abilities by directing your attention to the task.

Stay hydrated and nourished

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for peak performance. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Fuel your body with balanced meals and snacks, focusing on complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. Avoid heavy, greasy foods that could make you feel sluggish. Choose light, easily digestible options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.


Seek support from your team

Your gymnastics team can be an invaluable source of support and motivation. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging teammates who uplift your spirits. Engage in team activities that promote camaraderie and help alleviate stress. Supporting one another can help create a positive atmosphere, allowing everyone to perform their best.


Embrace mistakes as learning opportunities

Every gymnast is flawed; mistakes happen even to the most seasoned athletes. Instead of dwelling on errors, embrace them as learning opportunities. Treat each mistake as a chance to grow and improve. Stay focused, make necessary adjustments, and move forward with determination. Remember that every gymnast faces challenges, and how you respond to them is what truly matters.


Competition day can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking for gymnasts. By incorporating these tips into your routine, you'll be better prepared mentally and physically to showcase your skills and shine under pressure. Remember to visualize success, establish a consistent routine, stay focused on the present moment, and support your teammates. With the right mindset and preparation, you'll be ready to tackle any competition and achieve your gymnastics goals. Our gymnastics team at EW Motion Therapy can work with gymnasts of any skill level to support flexibility and healthy skill progression. If you’re curious about what physical therapy can do for you, click the button below to download our answers to 20 frequently asked questions.

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