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An Honest Talk About Ego, Depression, and Anxiety in Gymnastics

In my experiences, there are a lot of people who focus on the technical and physical development of gymnasts. Most of their efforts focus on getting new drills, strength exercises, or progressions to help athletes get new skills or move up to the next competition level. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely an important area of the sport for safety, readiness, and achieving goals.

However, in my opinion, I don’t think these areas of gymnastics are the root causes of some of the much more serious, and much more important conversations.

The best drills in the world go nowhere fast if the gymnasts are unhappy in the gym, if they do not trust their coaches’ intentions, and if they are battling emotional/mental health issues like anxiety, fear, or depression.

The same goes for the coaches. Nothing will get done if coaches/parents feel burnt out, unhappy, and are taking out their frustrations with personal issues on the gymnasts or other coaches they work with.

The two biggest things that are not being talked about honestly in gymnastics right now are

  1. Taking ownership of how personal problems impact the training environment
  2. Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and insecurity fueled egos.

I was recently asked to do an interview where we talked about some of these heavy issues. It was definitely a thought-provoking conversation, and I was grateful for the chance to discuss this area of gymnastics. In this episode, we talk about

  • What I do as a coach to support mental health issues liked anxiety, depression, and fear with gymnasts
  • If I think the emotional expression is a strength or weakness in athletes
  • What I think allowed USA Gymnastics to mistakenly build a culture of fear in athletes
  • What I do personally to manage my ego, anxiety, and periods of being unhappy
  • Why coaches and parents need to take responsibility if they are unhappy in the gym, and not take it out on the athletes
  • My personal values, philosophy, and morals that I try to follow every day

I really think people are going to enjoy this one. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher below!

How Ego, Depression, and Anxiety Impact Gymnastics


Hope you enjoy it!

– Dave

Dr.Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
CEO/Founder of SHIFT Movement Science