Gymnasts: Remember This When You Think You “Suck”


“I suck.”

I think that most gymnasts at some point in their career say this to themselves.  If they are lucky, they say it only once or twice.  The less fortunate ones (me included) actually develop a voice that repeats these two syllables each and every time we fall short.

Curious as to where the phrase came from, I turned to the good old (urban) dictionary to discover it is Jazz’s fault.  You see, “the early Jazz musicians would say that a guy could really “blow” if he had a good sound when playing the horn. If he couldn’t play very well then they would say that he was “sucking” on that horn. That’s where the term “suck” as being something bad came from.”  The entry went on to clarify that “If you suck, it generally means you have no skill and/or talent.”

Thanks for that, urban dictionary.

Okay, while that was written tongue in cheek, I also mean that sincerely.  Because no gymnast, not a single one including the one’s who are just at the beginning levels can say with any veracity that they “suck.”  Because all gymnasts have skill, even if that skill is rudimentary.

Think about it: how many people can do what you can do? Even the weakest member of a gymnastics team can do more skills than the average person.  Heck, even kids in a basic gymnastics class can do more skills than the average person.  Gymnasts, therefore, by definition do not suck.

So you made a mistake?  Fell off a beam?  Didn’t qualify for nationals?  Congratulations, you’re human, not sucky. Not everything will work out how we hope it will.  Not even when we do every single thing right do we always get the result we want.  That does not mean you “suck.”

You aren’t progressing as fast as you wish you were?  You don’t score as high as you wish?  Okay, fine.  You may have some limitations or you just have work to do, but you don’t “suck.”

Do you think by calling yourself names you are more likely to try harder?  Well, telling yourself you suck has you were you are right now…so what if you treated yourself with kindness and compassion?

As gymnasts you are pursuing a sport that defies gravity, requires huge discipline and more courage than most any other sport I can think of.  You toil away in classes and practices that require conditioning and stretching that most high school varsity athletes could not imagine doing.  You keep getting up after you fall down and you try again and again.

I get it.  There are times you are down on yourself.  Times you are frustrated.  Times you wish you had it easier.  You might be STUCK but you don’t suck.

So try rephrasing “I suck” to “I’m stuck.”  Because then you can begin the work on figuring out how to pass this bump in the road.

Keep training.  Keep trying.  And keep believing me: YOU DON’T SUCK.