Figure Skating, Gymnastics, Cheerleading And Sports Psychology: 15 Sources Of Stress For Parents, Kids And Coaches
Over the years, I have counseled many females who compete in figure skating, cheerleading and gymnastics at very high levels.
These sports can be quite demanding, since they are different from many other sports. Consequently, these sports can place a great deal of stress on the young athletes.
First, unlike a sport like tennis or golf, one tiny error can ruin an entire performance as well as years of training.
Second, there are often significant interpersonal conflicts between the athlete, the parent and the coach.
Third, the judging and the scoring in these sports is somewhat subjective and often riddled with politics. This unfair judging can lead to bad decisions which can be very painful for a youngster, a parent or a coach.
Fifth, some youngsters are asked or pushed to do maneuvers which they are quite scared about and which can cause significant injuries. While some kids are fearless and show no fear at all, others are anxious and some coaches do not seem to know how to get kids past their legitimate fears.
Sixth, some coaches are too tough on gymnasts, skaters and cheerleaders and some are too gentle. Every athlete is different and most do best with a customized coaching style
which suits their unique personality. Many training facilities are not set up to offer this kind of individualized teaching and encouragement.
Seventh, gymnastics, cheerleading and figure skating are part sport, part show and part beauty contest. These athletes have to perform for the judges. They need to connect with the judges and communicate with the audience in a charismatic manner. So, they need to be skilled athletes and outstanding entertainers.
Eighth, because these sports emphasize physical appearance as well as athletic skills, issues around food and weight control frequently exist as does anorexia and bulimia.
Ninth, the emphasis on appearance can cause parents to become overly involved with their how attractive their child is when she competes. The importance of appearance places additional pressure on a young female. A basketball player, tennis player or softball player does not have to deal with these kinds of vanity issues. They simply must play well and perform well.
Tenth, the politics in gyms and rinks can be quite brutal. Sometimes coaches and youngsters set things up so kids have a lot of anger, bitterness, sadness and frustration where other athletes and themselves are concerned.
Eleventh, stage moms in figure skating, gymnastics and cheerleading can be overly invested in their children’s appearance and performance. Again, it is not simply enough for their children to be talented and hard working. The kids need to be beautiful. This dynamic can create much stress for parents and kids.
Twelfth, while there are many wonderful coaches in these sports, some coaches mislead parents about their kid’s level of talent. Kids who should do something else are kept in the sport too long due to the financial gains which the coach may be overly concerned about.
Thirteen, burn out in these three sports is quite common and quite frequent. The training is very tough at the top level and injuries are quite common.
Fourteen, training is very time consuming and some athletes have great difficulty managing school, their social life and their conditioning.
Fifteen, most gymnasts, figure skaters and cheerleaders get little training in sports psychology, mental toughness or stress management. Many feel as if they are very much alone with their stress and their struggles.