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Women's Gymnastics: Olympic Pressure Cooker

The Pressure Cooker of the Olympic Games1) The Women Gymnastics appeared to be very shaky in their qualifying performance on Sunday night.

They had mistake after mistake, which they normally do not do.

To what do you attribute those mistakes Dr. Gregg?

It is a game of emotions out there…athletes need to master their emotions and the US woman gymnastic’s team appeared to be shaken

I attribute their mistakes to two factors: Samantha Pesnick’s injury and the team’s overall nerves.

Samantha injured her ankle 5 minutes before the start of competition and that threw a mental wrench into their mental state. Their world was in disarray and now they have to compete with four athletes on the floor exercise instead of the normal 5. That can be quite unnerving. It looked like the women had an unnerving look and manner about them right before their first event, the floor exercise and that sent everything into a negative motion. When we look nervous, we will feel nervous.

I tell athletes, you have to plan for the best, but prepare for the worst. Athletes who are successful need to be ready of any bad event to happen and be mentally prepared for such. These Olympians were not prepared for this event, and it took its toll on their performance.

Second, their nerves seemed to get the best of them. Nerves can act like a boost of energy, they can give you a jolt when you do not want one. That is what looked like happened to Alicia Sacramone when she stepped out of bounds on her floor exercise, I would say her nerves gave her extra energy she was not aware of and she over shot her mark. The same can be said for Nastia Liukin’s dismount on the uneven bars. Her nerves made her over shoot her landing and she fell flat on her back

Nerves can also shut down your muscles. When Chellsie Memmel fell during the uneven bars, it was nerves affecting her muscles, perhaps her grip

2) What would you recommend to the US team for the finals if you could talk to them.

They need to get comfortable in the uncomfortable. They will be nervous. It is the Olympics. It is a given that everyone is nervous. But the most successful athletes have learned to channel this great energy force into a positive

They need to turn pressure into pleasure..

I would recommend that the see their performance as a gift. They should see the event as sharing their talents with the audience, and that is quite pleasurable. They need to believe they have worked all these years to share their gifts to the world. They are not trying to prove how good they are…that creates pressure, but they are giving a great performance to the world, and that will decrease their nerves and settle them down.

For more information about Dr. Steinberg go to his web site here.

About Gregg Steinberg

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a performance psychology expert, best selling author, and inspirational keynote speaker on the various topics relating to individual and team performance. Google+ Profile Get in touch with Dr. Gregg

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