While physical strength plays a major role in achieving success in men”s gymnastics, it would be worthless without sufficient mental preparation.
It has been said that it”s difficult to realize that envisioning a perfect performance before executing a routine is essential to pulling off a solid showing in a difficult event.
Often gymnasts start thinking about an upcoming meet the night before, repeatedly going over their routines in their head.
The No. 1 Michigan men”s gymnastics team has recognized that maintaining a confident mindset is the key to competition.
“Being able to see yourself do a routine is almost as important as actually doing it,” senior tri-captain Justin Toman said. “Having a confident mindset makes all the difference.”
“If you aren”t confident with a skill, you won”t make it,” freshman Chris Gatti said. “You might get injured.”
Nervousness can often be disastrous in competition. Mental preparation helps to shake any “butterflies” and keep gymnasts focused.
“The whole point of getting mentally prepared is to fight off the nervousness and be relaxed, just like in practice,” senior Kenny Keener said.
While everyone has different ways of preparing for an event, many gymnasts find it helpful to go through a checklist before attempting a routine. This puts things in perspective and makes the crowd background noise.
“I isolate myself right before I”m up on an event,” senior tri-captain Kevin Roulston said. “Everything goes out of my head except for my routine.”
By picking out things to concentrate on during the performance and remembering the words of their coaches, the Michigan gymnasts hope to gain an advantage over other competitors.
“Some people falter because they try to not mess up, rather than trying to succeed,” Roulston said.
The Wolverines spends hours upon hours preparing in the gym. Their bodies know what to do, but their minds need extra preparation.
“The trick is training your brain to go along with the flow,” Roulston said.
“You have to build up your confidence in your abilities so that there is no second guessing yourself in the middle of the routine,” Roulston said. “The number one cause for error is doubting yourself.”
The Wolverines have cast aside any doubts over the past few weeks by easily handling high-quality opponents.
Their high level of confidence should put them in prime position this weekend against defending National Champion and sixth-ranked Penn State.