Getting In The Zone: How To Rid Yourself Of Doubt


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Doc Ali’s Tight Mind Monday 4-24-17: When you have doubt, CLENCH it out!

We all have days where fear, frustration, or nerves get the best of us. In this Tight Mind Monday, I will teach you an easy and effective tool to release negative emotions quickly. They are called “Clenchers.”  I know that name sounds funny, but that’s just what they are! Clenchers pair a physical activity with changing negative thoughts so that your mind and body are working together to let go of fear, frustration, or tension, and get back to tight mind.

Gymnasts are very physical people, and sometimes it’s hard to simply change negative thoughts and “be positive.” Clenchers give you the power of both the physical and mental to turn that bad day around!  

The best thing about Clenchers is you can do them anywhere. No one can even tell you are doing them! You can do them in practice, at a competition, or even before you take a test at school, and no one can tell that you are doing something to relieve stress.

Clenchers have four steps and take about 1 minute to do.  

Step One: With your arms by your sides, tighten (clench) your fists and forearms.

Step Two: Take a deep breath and hold your breath for the count of four.

Step Three: Exhale, and shake out your arms. You may want to do something else physical as well. Do whatever helps you relieve tension. It might be jumping, kicking your legs, or stretching your shoulders.

Step Four: Take another deep breath, and say positive statements to yourself. Things like, “I can do this”, “You’re fine”, or “Remember your goal.”

Repeat these four steps several times if necessary. If you have fear, clench it out. If you are frustrated, clench it out. If you are nervous at a meet, clench it out. If you have doubt, CLENCH IT OUT!

Alison Arnold Ph.D. has been a mental toughness consultant to USA Gymnastics since 1997. If you have questions or want more information about her work go to