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Gymnastics workshop: Positive Choices for Long Term Success
6 June 2015
Story by Katherine Downie, Paralympic Swimmer
Gymnastics was a small group mixed of 13 to 18 year olds. We focused on Nutrition, Mental Skills and Positivity Images.  I really enjoyed this course because it was mainly about food! It was also very informative and the athletes were super polite and interactive. 
The nutrition was interesting, it was basic healthy eating and recovery but it plays such a strong part in such a heavy sport like gymnastics; gymnasts eat almost the same amount as swimmers do! It was awesome to see the similarities across such high intensity but dissimilar sports. I was glad to see they were all on track with their hydration as each athlete had a drink bottle with them. Keep up the good work guys.  
We had a lot of fun with mental skills. We performed a group activity, asking the athletes to rank how important they thought mental skills were and then rank how often they actively work on it. As athletes, I feel we place a lot of value in mental toughness and skills but don't spend as much time fine tuning them unlike the physical skills. We then went through a series of different activities to show the group how easy it is to spend some time practicing positive imagery and mental skills.  
This led onto the section called "Positive Me" It taught the athletes about role models, personal brands and making positive choices. Social media was key in this part of the workshop. It can make or break a personal brand. I often use Swimming Australia's media exclusive contract as an example when it comes to good media use. It prevents bad public interaction and keeps the athletes on track. We finished up by asking them to choose between bad and good choices in the form of scenarios. These scenarios I have actually faced in real life, making a choice between a party and a swim meet for example. In the end it is up to the individual, but you need to look at the bigger picture as an athlete, and think what will have the best outcome for my longer term sporting aspirations? It’s not always easy – but winning never is!
In general the athletes paid attention to Amanda and I and we had a fun and informative session that I was happy to have been a part of.
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