Overcoming Tumbling Fears & Mental Blocks in Gymnastics or Cheerleading

How Mental Training Can Help You Stick Your Landings

Do You Experience Blocks During Reverse Movements, such as Back Handsprings or Back Tucks?

Or a Gymnast (or Cheerleader) Looking to Take Your Routines to the Next Level?

As gymnastics is often quoted as being 90% mental - emotional blocks are very common, at all levels - but since the 90's, I have used hypnosis to help release fear and improve results.

Fear is just a natural self-protection mechanism, which can occur during back handsprings, back tucks, back walk overs, on the beam, fly way dismounts from the bar, and the list goes on - plus often after a fall.

  power of belief

Methods to Rebuild Confidence

The past few decades - gymnasts, cheerleaders, coaches and parents contacted me each week about these issues (including re-building confidence after injuries or falls).

During that time, mind training - the easiest, most convenient and affordable of all options available - has achieved consistently excellent results in this area.

Sadly all the ways talked about to increase confidence, simply do not work or help with gymnastic fears - as they are an involuntary, unconscious (and sub-conscious) reaction.

Motivation, pep talks, affirmations, faking it until you make it, listing out strengths and skills, thinking of past compliments, achievements or positive thoughts... these are all admirable attempts, but sadly none of these work at the subconscious level.

This means they can occasionally bring some temporary improvement - but unless the methods work at the control panel of the issue, they will never remove it - and the anxiety will continue.

Consistency can only return by dealing with the fears at their very source - the subconscious mind.

With a relaxing blend of visualisation and hypnosis, mind training has shown to give gymnasts the confidence & belief to conquer anxiety in reverse movements, skills and routines (and also in cheerleading).

When Performance Flows Perfectly... and Thoughts Which Interrupt the Process

The best gymnastic performances are performed on 'auto-pilot' - a state commonly called 'The Zone'.

The Zone delivers the highest possible standard of performance - which allows movements to flow easily, effortlessly and naturally. The subconscious mind controls this process.

However, if gymnasts dwell on their previous failed attempts, doubts, worries, fears and negative thoughts - or on the weight of expectation from others - these often prevent this auto-pilot process from working properly.


These can often sabotage areas such as backwards passes - eg. back handsprings - as well as other elements, routines, skills, confidence - not to mention cause emotional distress, anxiety and slumps in form.

Most often, various types of negative thoughts can create fear - which prevents gymnasts reaching their highest levels.

Tumbling blocks, along with most other gym issues, can be overcome using a combination of cognitive training methods - such as visualisation, positive affirmations and hypnotic suggestion, which target the fear at the very source.

Common Causes of Tumbling Fear

Falls / Prior Injuries

One of the most common causes are falls or prior injuries, which can cause a psychological impact which can be challenging to overcome with the usual regular methods, and if left unattended, these can manifest into a mental block.

Pressure to Perform

Being in front of large crowds and under intense scrutiny can make the fear of failure, and of not living up to expectations, or disappointing others, even more daunting.

Mental Exhaustion

This can occur if the gymnast is constantly practicing or competing without taking enough breaks or if they are experiencing anxiety. This can impact a gymnast's ability to focus and increase worry about possible falls.

Lack of Deep Inner Confidence

This can be come from a variety of reasons - not enough training, not enough support or encouragement, or pressure of expectation - either from others, or from within.

Fear of the Unknown

Last of all, sometimes it can occur purely from being afraid of the unknown. This can occur when a gymnast is attempting a new skill or is unsure of their ability to execute a particular move. This can cause movements to become more hesitant and fearful when attempting tumbling skills.

Lack of Strong Technique

This can be due to bad habits or insufficient technique to handle the routine, which can increase the risk of injury and cause increased apprehension about attempting the skill again.

Physical Exhaustion

If a gymnast is physically exhausted, they may not have the strength or stamina to attempt the skills - though more often than not, this is just a temporary issue

Techniques for Releasing the Fear

While gymnasts or cheerleaders may struggle with the mental block to physically practice these moves, luckily the same does not apply to the brain or the imagination - and this is where the positive changes are made.

The imagination easily creates a range of powerful images of successful elements, routines, passes etc which it stores in the memory bank, which the body accesses during actual physical performance.

Visualisation involves regularly and vividly imagining yourself successfully sticking backwards movements, while positive affirmations or hypnotic suggestion work at releasing the anxiety deep at the subconscious level, while you are in a lightly relaxed state.

Both gymnasts and cheerleaders usually find these methods work extremely powerfully at releasing common gym fears and anxiety, when the mind training process is used on a regular basis.


Positive Reinforcement Through Audio

Being a hypnotherapist working with many gymnasts, I eventually found audio recordings delivered the most consistent results, mainly due to the repetition required to fully dissolve the core issues at the source.

It has shown to generally be the most practical, effective and affordable method (such as mp3 programs on this page, or personalized recordings targeting advanced issues), or for the hands-on approach, getting a personal recommendation for a string of private consultations with someone may be helpful.

Importantly, this process helps to overturn the fears at the very source, and replace them with renewed hope and confidence - yes, even for gymnasts who are on the verge of giving it all away in frustration (which sadly occurs far more than it needs to).

Both gymnasts and cheerleaders generally find they gradually regain the confidence to perform their back handsprings or other routines that were troubling them. It also becomes an extremely positive reinforcement of the gymnasts own inner strength, when they overcome the fears themselves - using their own cognitive skills.

Mind Training Benefits

Advantages / Uses:

• Regaining Confidence after injury, falls, slumps in belief

• Increased Belief in Ability to perform tumbling or difficult movements

• Stronger Emotional Control - overcoming nerves, anxiety, negative thinking, self sabotage, criticism, or emotional upsets

• Less Reliance on a Spot for difficult elements

Vastly Stronger Gymnastic (or Cheer) Performances - and results

• Increased Consistency / Concentration in performance, in both practice drills and competition

As the fear slowly dissolves & disappears, a new confidence, belief & expectation of success begin to shine through - firstly during training drills and mindset, and then flowing into competitive performance and results.

Of course, there are also many other areas of gymnastic-related performance which do not involve backwards movement, and so customized recordings (which keep us busy here)  or therapy are often more effective for these issues than a generic program, where it is tailored to their exact issues, fears and personal situation.

Regardless, mental blocks of any kind usually require some form of intervention to attend to them.  

This is because these issues generally continue to become even more firmly embedded as time goes on, which steadily increases anxiety levels in performance.

This has shown to be an extremely common scenario, given that people who have regularly contacted me over the years about this issue have often been at the point of desperation - where the gymnast or cheerleader was at the peak of their anxiety and on the brink of giving away (what used to be) their favorite sport forever.

Luckily - this no longer needs to be the case.

But when it comes down to it, after trying almost everything and finding nothing seems to have helped with the anxiety - this is usually the time when people arrive at my website ; )

And this is where a successful blending of relaxation, positive hypnotic suggestion and visualisation techniques step up, which can bring about both the easing of the panic attacks, as well as the successful completion the tumbling skill.

Footnote: Interestingly, once people have overcome their issues using my audio product, often many seem to automatically assume that somehow they overcame the issue through completely different means, and that the targeted hypnotic recordings played no part in their miraculous recovery!

But in the grand scheme, that does not matter - it is all about the successful end result.

See below for more information and my mind-training audio products.





Some gymnasts feel initially strange using mental training methods - if only they knew that all the greats use these methods, every single day.

To name just a few...

Champions From the Gym Who Train Their Minds

• Simone Biles - Regarded as one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, Biles has spoken publicly about her use of visualization and mental preparation.

• Aly Raisman - An Olympic gold medalist, Raisman has mentioned her use of mental techniques like positive self-talk and imagery.

• Laurie Hernandez - An Olympics winner, Hernandez has credited mental preparation and visualization as crucial to her success.

• Shawn Johnson - A former Olympic gold medalist, Johnson has spoken about the importance of inner training, particularly visualization.

• Gabby Douglas - An Olympic winner, Douglas has talked about her use of various techniques.

• Nastia Liukin - An Olympic gold medalist, Liukin has spoken about her use of mental training, including visualization and relaxation techniques.

• Jordyn Wieber - An Olympic gold medalist, Wieber has talked about her use of mental preparation, including visualization and positive self-talk.

• Kyla Ross - Another Olympic winner who used visualization and other techniques.

• McKayla Maroney - An Olympic gold medalist, Maroney has spoken about her use of mental training, including visualization and positive self-talk.

• Morgan Hurd - A world champion gymnast, Hurd has talked about her use of inner preparation techniques.

• Madison Kocian - A gold medalist who used various different inner methods of preparation.

• Sunisa Lee - An Olympic gold medalist, Lee has spoken about her use of positive self-talk and various other methods.

So you are in very good company, when you use mental training ; )

Needless to say, before any gymnast (or their undoubtedly concerned parents) reach this page, they have usually turned over every possible stone, in order to find a solution for the panic and anxiety.

These can range from chatting with the coach to identify the exact elements or skills creating the source of the fear, in order to better understand and address it - through to physically practicing the skill more regularly, to see if it becomes more comfortable (though in my experience, it usually doesnt, in the case of dealing with internal fears).

Others try breaking the skill down into smaller, more manageable parts, in order to focus on mastering each part individually, or simply waiting it out, as well as trying to avoid putting too much pressure on themselves - though again, sadly these external means rarely give a great deal of solace unfortunately.

Some try and rationalize the issue, and remind themselves that fear is a normal part of the learning process, which everyone experiences at some point - with the thought that if others are experiencing it too, then maybe this might relieve some of the distress.

Others seek professional help with a psychologist in order to try and work through any underlying psychological issues, though this can be a fairly long road to uncover the exact issues (and needless to say, it would need to be a sports psychologist, rather than a professional who works in mainstream psychology).

Whatever the approach, it is best to assume the issue will not just naturally melt away by itself, and it is always better to address it sooner, rather than later.

As it is, even without these fears - a great deal of cogntive and emotional energy goes into gymnastics and cheerleading, both requiring a combination of physical strength, flexibility, and inner focus.

The inner psychological aspects of gymnastics include setting goals, building self-confidence, developing discipline and determination, and managing fear and anxiety. Additionally, they can also help with stress management, emotional regulation, and overall well-being.

However, the intense competition and pressure to perform well can also lead to negative outcomes such as burnout, eating disorders, and depression - and fears come in under the same stressful category - so it's important for the athlete, coaches and parents to always be aware of these.