Some say stretching, some say conditioning, a few say body shaping, and the sneaky ones say: “Hah! This is totally a trick question, it’s everything!”
While that’s not exactly wrong, I rarely ever get mental training.
I find this odd because while everyone puts in the physical effort training their bodies… they forget about what actually controls all of their muscles and limbs in the first place.
That would be the mind.
Here’s a nice simple diagram to illustrate the point…
Have you heard of the mind-to-muscle connection?
Not only is very real, this connection can actually be trained, improved and optimized to give you fantastic results.
Just as you condition your body to make it stronger, you can adopt simple and effective techniques that will strengthen your mind so that your body does exactly what you ask of it, when you ask of it, and without hesitation.
And it all starts with adopting a Growth Mindset.
Related Content: You should also consider checking out the interview I did with my good friend Jeff Benson on mental toughness in sports. Click Here to tune in — it’s worth a listen!
So What Exactly Is A Growth Mindset?
It’s a term that was coined by Dr. Carol Dweck about 30 years ago while she was studying students to see what makes some more successful than others.
What she found out is that those who believed they can improve and become smarter over time, generally put in the extra effort required to become successful. But the ones who thought they were unlucky, or not talented enough, or not smart enough, simply gave up and quit.
Basically, having a Growth Mindset means you view everything as a challenge or a puzzle that you already have the ability to solve… as long as you put in the work.
And as you’ve probably figured out by now, this is a fantastic mindset to have for tumbling.
Because tumbling is always full of challenges, and you’re basically solving problems day in and day out.
That’s why people with weak mindsets generally don’t last very long in this sport. Or they can’t get past basic skills such as cartwheels and walkovers.
But tumbling has also been known to demoralize those with an initially strong mentality.
I’ve seen athletes start off their tumbling journey with a solid Growth Mindset, but as the years went by, somewhere along the line (probably after they encountered multiple failures) they stopped believing in the process, they stopped believing that hard work produces results, and eventually stopped believing in themselves all together.
Can you guess what happened?
They ended up with Fixed Mindset. And sure enough, their tumbling stopped improving.
So today I’m going to teach you how to take every thought that someone with a Fixed Mindset would have, and transform it so that you can develop a Growth Mindset, and achieve the skills you want at a faster pace!
Note: This articled was inspired by Greg Hahn and the Growth Mindset worksheet he shared (which his daughter received in school). I’ve simply adapted the concept to suit the sport of tumbling. If you have time, I recommend checking out his original post right here.
Instead Of Thinking… I Can’t Do This
Start Thinking… I Will Learn To Do This
To be honest, I’ve simply banned the word can’t from being used around me. Even if someone accidentally ends up saying it, I automatically hear won’t. So instead of: “I can’t do this drill” … my brain converts this into: “I won’t do this drill”.
And if that’s the case, then this person will not receive my help. Because they’ve made a conscious choice to give up.
Now sure, I understand that this sport can get hard and challenging. But that’s where the Growth Mindset needs to kick in. This means from now on, every time the word can’t pops up in your brain, know that you actually can. You just have to learn how.
I’m sure you couldn’t do a cartwheel the very first day you started training tumbling, but you figured that out pretty quick, didn’t you? All tumbling skills are simply challenges that you need to conquer. You just need to learn how to conquer them. (Hint: Your coaches can help!)
Instead Of Thinking… I Just Wanna Throw My ______ On Floor Already!
Start Thinking… Have I Perfected My Previous Progression Yet?
In case you’re new to my site, I have a system of teaching tumbling called P3 (it stands for Practice, Perfection, Progression). There’s a very good reason why my athletes follow that order. I wrote an entire article about it right here — I suggest you take the time to read it.
But for now, here’s a brief overview: Skills don’t come because you simply attempt them a thousand times. Skills are developed in pieces. And you train each piece by doing drills and perfecting your progressions. Each piece lays a solid foundation for the next. Which means if you have a weak foundation, one day your body will eventually crumble.
So a great back tuck will lead to a great pike, which will lead to a great layout, which will lead to a great full, which will lead to a great double, then a triple etc.
Why do most of my athletes learn the full twist in a few weeks yet so many others are spending years and years on it? Because we spend a solid 6 months (or more) perfecting layouts.
Instead Of Thinking… Tumbling Is Too Hard
Start Thinking… Tumbling Takes Time, And I Will Do Whatever It Takes
You know what? You’re right. Tumbling is hard… if you want it to be.
But tumbling can also be fun and easy if you want it to be.
The problem is, you are not doing what it takes to make the process of learning tumbling as easy as possible. You’re not spending the extra time conditioning at home. You don’t want to follow the P3 system. You cheat your way through shapes and drills. And when your coach tries to give you corrections, you’re simply uncoachable.
When you do these things, of course tumbling will feel like it’s too hard. That’s like refusing to change the oil in your car at recommended intervals, then saying: “This car sucks because it always breaks down”
Well, duh! It’s because you made it break down.
I’m fully aware that tumbling skills will not come overnight. There is another price to pay, and that price is time. But if you do what you’re supposed to do, it definitely won’t feel like it’s too hard. Best of all, time will fly by so quickly, that it will feel like you’re learning skills at a rapid pace.
Instead Of Thinking… I Totally Messed Up My Pass
Start Thinking… What Did I Learn From This Mistake?
Wanna know a secret?
If you didn’t experience failure thousands of times as baby, you wouldn’t be walking right now.
Think about how babies learn to walk… They take a step, fall, learn, get back up and try again.
Sometimes they cry, sure, but they always get back up… every single time!
And each time they get back up, they’re able to take another tiny step. And step after step, fall after fall, over the span of months and months they end up learning how to walk.
Then they learn how to run… and end up becoming little speed demon nightmares for the unsuspecting newbie parents.
But you see what I’m getting at? You have to fall in tumbling (safely). You need to make mistakes… because that’s feedback. That’s how you learn what to do, and what not to do.
Without mistakes, no one would learn how to tumble!
Instead Of Thinking… This Drill Isn’t Working
Start Thinking… I Will Trust The Process & Do The Drill With 100% Effort
Let me ask you something: If you’re doing a drill that thousands of other athletes have used to successfully achieve the skills they want, is it the drill that’s not working, or are you just not working the drill hard enough?
Think about it.
Now, are there some drills that work better for certain athletes than others? Totally.
But generally speaking, an experienced tumbling coach won’t tell you to do a drill that doesn’t work. We don’t like wasting your time and more importantly, we definitely don’t like wasting ours. So if you were given a drill, treat it like a Golden Ticket to success, and put in 100% effort.
If I told you that doing 200 RO BHS candlesticks will give you perfect layouts along with perfect hair every morning for the rest of your life, you would probably get those reps done in the next few hours!
But that’s only because you are chasing the outcome. Instead, trust and enjoy the process and just do the 200 reps regardless.
Because you see, even when things don’t seem like they’re working, know that you’re simply adding drops into a large half-filled bucket. Eventually it will fill up. Oh, you’ve never heard of that metaphor? Click here right now and read all about it. It’s pretty important.
Instead Of Thinking… I Hate Drills, They Are Boring!
Start Thinking… How Can I Make This Fun & Challenging?
I can sympathize with the feeling boredom while training. I know it can get rather tedious to do yet another set of RO Jumpbacks or yet another set of HS Snapdowns after you’ve done them every single practice, for the last few months.
But the reality of the situation is this: It’s the athletes that can find joy in the “boring” stuff that end up becoming the best tumblers.
If all you want to do is chase short term fun, go for it. But don’t complain when your tucks, layouts and fulls look like a hot mess.
Boring is the price you have to pay to gain the ability to do fun stuff down the road. I’ve never had an athlete say working double twist is boring. Or that doing double back tucks is boring.
But it’s all the boring crap these elite athletes did for years (while you were cheating your conditioning) that has now allowed them to perform exciting skills.
So find a way to making boring drills fun by turning it into a game with your friends. Or a mini competition (“who can get through all 50 reps first?”). Or trying making it harder: Instead of doing a RO jump back on the same height you always do, raise the surface by a foot and see if you can still make it.
Instead Of Thinking… My Tumbling Will Never Be Perfect
Start Thinking… Perfection Is A Moving Target. I Can Always Get Better
Perfection is a funny thing. We all chase it, but since it’s a moving target, we can never really catch it. So in the P3 system, how exactly are we supposed to move on to the final step (Progression) if we can’t ever “perfect” the skill beforehand?
Well a funny thing happens when you try and chase perfection: You end up becoming really damn competent. And when you reach a level of competency where you’re so good you don’t have to think about it anymore, you’re ready to progress.
This refers to the 4 magic steps of learning & mastering any new skill. If you don’t know what these magical steps are, click here to read all about them.
So yes, your tumbling will technically never be perfect. But that’s no reason to feel sad. In fact, it’s a cause for celebration because it means there’s always something new and exciting you can learn!
If you play video games, think about the ones you sunk the most number of hours into. I’m talking a hundred or more.
Chances are, these games always had more stuff for you to do after you finished the “core” story mode and beat the boss. Or they simply required such a deep level of mastery, that you were always finding new ways to win.
Some recent examples that come to mind: Legend of Zelda BOTW, Super Mario Odyessy, GTA V, Counter Strike GO, Overwatch, Destiny, Minecraft, Starcraft 2… etc.
Again, if you know games, you know that people have sunk hundreds (or even thousands) of hours into some of the titles I listed above… and they’re still getting better!
Well, your tumbling can too.
Instead Of Thinking… All My Friends Are Better Than Me
Start Thinking… I Choose To Feel Inspired By Those More Successful Than Me
I still don’t see why you would be sad or upset if you’re surrounded by friends that are better than you. Maybe that’s my Growth Mindset talking, so allow me to explain why this is a very, very good thing!
When you’re surrounded by those more successful than you, it grants you instant VIP access to their knowledge bank. In other words, they can help you find answers to almost every problem you’ll ever have.
Because they’ve already been there themselves! When I want business or marketing advice, I reach out to my friends in a secret facebook group where almost all of them are well ahead of where I am. This means they almost always have the right answers.
When I’m having trouble with an athlete, I reach out to other coaches that have done this for way longer than I have.
Because they almost always have the answers (or solutions) that I’m looking for.
If this sounds like the lazy way out… it sort of is. But only partially. The real variable that counts is hard work. So be happy that you have friends who are better than you. Ask them for advice. Then put in twice the amount of work they put in, and you’ll be where you want to be.
Another Example: I visit Woodward every year not because it’s a place where I’m the most experienced coach or athlete. I visit precisely because of the opposite: everyone around me is more accomplished, talented and harder working… and this inspires me. It recharges my batteries and puts me into overdrive. When I get back home, I end up doing a month’s work in about a week.
So you decide how you want to feel when you’re surrounded by others that are better than you. You can either sit and feel sorry for yourself, or use it as fuel to accomplish more. The choice is yours!
Instead Of Thinking… I Will Never Tumble As Well As [Insert Famous Tumbler]
Start Thinking… I Learn At My Own Pace & Don’t Need To Compare Myself To Others
Newsflash: You will also never drive as well as Lewis Hamilton. Or swim as well as Michael Phelps. Or run as fast as Usain Bolt. Or be as rich as Warren Buffet. Or be as smart as Elon Musk…
And you know why?
Because while it’s inspiring to let other people’s success motivate you, comparing yourself to them means you’ll only ever become almost as good as they are.
But you’ll never be equal or better.
That’s because winners focus on moving ahead. While losers focus on winners.
A large chunk of the most accomplished people in any field understand themselves better than anyone else. They know what they’re good at, how fast they learn, and what times they learn best.
Then they put their head down, and do the work. They don’t look at Suzy next to them and wonder: “Oh I wish I could do what Suzy is doing!”
They just do their thing to the best of their ability and keep trying to chase that moving target that is perfection. And somehow, they end up accomplishing feats that everyone else looks up to and admires.
I honestly don’t know if you’ll ever be as good of a tumbler as my friend Jordan Sugrim, or someone like Angel Rice. But I do know that you can carve out your own little slice of success if only you stop comparing yourself to everyone else, and just become the best version of you that you can be.
Instead Of Thinking… My Coach Is Being Unfair/Mean!
Start Thinking… Am I Being The Most Coachable Athlete That I Can Be?
Do you know what the Coachability Index is? If not, take a moment to go here and read about it.
Then what I want you to do, is assess yourself for the next 2 weeks and ask yourself what your Coachability Index is every time you walk into the gym, and compare that to how coaches react to you.
Here’s what I think you’ll find: When your Coachability Index is high (and you work diligently to keep it high), coaches will generally be more patient, caring and will spend the extra time to help you get better.
“But I thought coaches are supposed to treat everyone equally and fairly!”
That’s a bunch of hogwash, and here’s why: We’re only human, and our time is limited.
While we do practice professionalism to the best of our ability, there are always levels to this.
It’s the same concept when you ask parents of multiple children if they have a “favorite”. They might love them all unconditionally, but it’s human nature to slightly favor one over another.
That’s because we are inherently flawed. It’s literally impossible for human beings to be 100% objective, rational and fair. Supreme Court judges spend half their aging lives as professional arbitrators of justice. But even they aren’t perfect at being objective and fair.
So instead of ignoring this fact, or crying about it, you as an athlete might as well use it to your advantage.
Consider this: if I have Pessimistic Patty in one corner and Coachable Candice in another, guess who I naturally want to help more?
Patty might get the same corrections, the same drills and the same opportunity to train with me (because I’m professional), but every time she responds with “that’s too hard”, “I can’t do it”, “can’t I just work something else?”… my soul dies a little inside. And I probably lose a few brain cells too.
So what happens when I walk over to Candice and see that she’s completed all her drills as asked, and is now ready to move on to the next progression?
No need to answer that. Moral of the story? Be Candice!
Instead Of Thinking… What If I Fall Or Embarrass Myself When I Go For My _______?
Start Thinking… What Corrections Should I Focus On In Order To Achieve Success?
The funny thing about our brain, is that it does exactly what you focus on.
So if you start thinking about falling, or what can go wrong before you do your tumbling pass, chances are you’ll fall, and things will definitely go wrong in your tumbling pass.
And this isn’t some conspiracy theory that I’m trying to scare you with. Research has proven it to be true.
I recall a gun marksmanship study they did in America (where else, right?) where the researchers wanted to see how quickly an instructor could teach a newbie to handle a firearm, and fire shots that consistently landed on target.
The first group were told what NOT to do (“Don’t hold the gun with one hand, “Don’t breathe too fast, “Don’t keep both eyes open…” etc.)
The second group were told what TO do, and to keep things fair, the actual nature of the corrections were exactly the same. So instead of tell them NOT to breathe heavily for example, they were instead told how to slow down their breathing, and so on.
So, which group of shooters would you want next to you during a Zombie Apocalypse? (You know, when accuracy is of prime importance!)
It probably comes as no surprise, but group two (that ones who were told what TO focus on) performed significantly better than those who were preoccupied with avoiding mistakes.
Luckily, this concept isn’t limited to guns. You can use this powerful tip with almost any skill that you want to master… including tumbling!
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