Daily Thought: Sometimes You Have to Let Them Fall

I’m late in posting this today because I had to decide between this thought and a different log entry. Nevertheless, the idea that sometimes you have to let them fall won because of how vital this conversation is to skill development and retention.

Please know that I am deliberate in using the word fall hereand it might not mean what you think.

Sometimes you have to let them fall
We’re all afraid of falling.

One of my girls and I had a conversation about the fear of falling a couple of days ago. We agreed that fear is often a sign of intelligence. We know that falling from high places at high speeds can hurt us, and our brain codes that knowledge as fear or apprehension.

This is the same reason we’re afraid of the dark. If we can’t see where we’re going, we risk running into something.

As it was for our ancestors before the advent of artificial light, fear of the dark is still a self-preservation mechanism.

And so is fear of the unknown

Along the same lines as being scared of the dark, our inability to manage what we don’t understand is also coded as anxiety by our brains. And the best way to deal with the tension of uncertainty is to familiarise ourselves with the things that scare us.

You probably see where I’m going at this point.

Yes, I know there is much more to say about dealing with fear in the outside world, but in the gym, familiarity minimises apprehensions about skills and training-related activities.

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To get to the point, you have to let your athletes fall sometimes, but you have to do it in a controlled manner.

Gymnasts should constantly practise falling. It should be part of basic training.

As they progress, we can help our athletes become familiar with falling by adjusting our spotting and letting them fall safely. We can devise drills that simulate the fall in any particular skill.

The sport of trampoline has developed many skills specific to this purpose.

Letting them fall, then, is about preventing injuries, and it’s the possibility of injury that causes fear in the first place.

Thank you for reading.

— Coach José

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