Five Fears Newmarket Gymnastics Athletes Must Over Come

Part 2 – Newmarket Gymnastics

Fear of performance in Newmarket Gymnastics & Trampoline Athletes

This section must be segmented into three parts as the implications of being afraid of failure are vast. Much more than these paragraphs are required to cover the psychology of performance; here I have condensed some of my understandings to shed some light on the issue.

3 Fear of failure – internal expectations

Being afraid to “try’ something new and not being able to do it right is also a natural part of behavior, especially in Newmarket Gymnastics and Trampoline. The issue that makes this condition so difficult to deal with is that there isn’t a commonly accepted definition of failure that we can study and use to determine the value of an individual’s performance. Take for example a trampolinist who while in competition executes a good enough routine to acquire qualifying scores but feels unhappy about his performance. Does this athlete have a good reason to feel like he has failed? Based on this example, it is impossible to tell. Perhaps he knows that his execution could be better, or that he could have done more to maintain his height to the end of his routine; all of these may be valid arguments for his perception of failure. What this tells us is that failure is determined only by the meaning it has to the individual. We more often than not fear not meeting our own expectations. As I’ve said before, these are not circumstances that should be taken lightly. The best way to deal with a general fear of failure is through clear communication about the expectations an athlete has from his training and from himself.  It is not advisable to measure the complexity of this fear with a general rule.


4 Fear of failure- external expectations

Outside of expecting a certain level of performance from ourselves, we are often aware of the potential others see in us. This fear can be quite debilitating as it plays on our need to maintain healthy and strong circles of sentiments with those close to us. Most of us don’t want to let our friends and family down.  Similarly this condition is best dealt through communication. However, the psychology of parental expectations is very complex; I would not advice that a coach, in any discipline tell the parent of an athlete not to expect particular success from their child, but that the expectations of the athlete, their training, and the relationship of these to progress needs to be a constant topic of communication.


5 Fear of being afraid

Fear of fear itself sounds like a redundant and cheesy way of explaining away weakness. But we know that fear is an essential, almost vital response to possible emotional and physical danger. This response usually manifests in avoidance of the object of our fears- if we fear heights, we stay low; if we fear speed, we move slow; and unfortunately if we fear fear, we move away from it. This condition has been the reason for many wonderfully talented athletes to abandon their training. The phrase “ I don’t want to be afraid anymore” was to me all too common in my years working with the Regional Behavioral Team of the board of education (RBT). This utterance was made by kids and young adults who suffered from several of the phobias mentioned in this paper. Some of them had failed in several aspects of life because of them.


In conclusion I would advise all coaches to maintain the lines of communication open, and to pay close attention to what their athletes are saying at all times. Human beings are afraid of many things – this is natural – and showing their fear in one way or another is also part of this natural process. As coaches and educators it is part of our job to look at behavior and to do the best with the feedback our kids are constantly giving us.



This article was created by Peyton Dracco, a Newmarket Gymnastics Trampoline and N.C.C.P. Certified Coach at Airborne Trampoline North in Newmarket.

Follow Peyton Dracco on Twitter at @pdracco

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