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Hooping With a Growth Mindset

By January 16, 2015Training

I was going to kick-off my 2015 New Year blog series with the physical stuff right away. But there’s a theme that has been coming up a lot for me this week in both my kids and adults classes, as well as my own personal practice, which I think we need to look at straight up.


What I’m talking about is Mental Game


Now stay with me, because I’m guilty of this too. Let’s play out this scenario: you’ve seen a new hoop trick (insert amazing gravity defying trick here) and you really want to learn how to do it. You try – it doesn’t work. You try again – it STILL doesn’t work. Four or five more attempts and you’re starting to get impatient and frustrated and you think “hooping is supposed to be fun; this isn’t working. I’m just going to go back to the old tricks I’m good at.”

Here we are back at square one, cycling over and over again through our old patterns hoping to magically acquire an arsenal of new tricks that we are too scared to practice.

So here’s the new and improved mental game.

There is a lot of research out there right now that indicates the way we encourage children AND our grown adult selves, has a massive impact on our performance.

In the past, after nailing a trick the conversation has gone like this:

“oh wow Caitlyn, you’re such an awesome hoopstress.”

and I stare back at myself in the mirror feeling pretty smug and pleased. The problem is, to get better at anything you have to allow yourself to screw up; we learn most when we attempt things that we can’t already do. If you define your ability and value as a hooper from the hoop never hitting the ground, you’re going to find yourself avoiding new tricks, not progressing and feeling like a failure.

So with my new ‘Growth Mindset’, the conversation will now sound like this:

“Oh wow Caitlyn! You’ve spent all night practicing that super hard trick where it’s supposed to be spinning on top of your head and it’s still just falling to the ground every time! Look at how hard you’re practicing. Your brain and your body are doing an awesome job at trying to figure out how to make that work! GOOD JOB!”


Wait, what? Praise me for screwing it up? YES. Research shows that when you praise effort rather than ability you foster passion for learning and cultivate a growth mindset. This applies to all areas of learning and life, not just hooping.

Here’s another exciting bit of information; even just being AWARE of this research can make you persist with problems longer and help you get the results you want. Understanding that the brain is like a muscle, and the more you use it the stronger it grows will automatically help you see challenges as what they really are: an opportunity to grow, rather than to fail.

So my little hooplings, make mistakes! Feel your brains getting bigger and your bodies getting stronger as you struggle!

If you don’t believe me and want to hear what the experts have to say on the subject, check out this video of Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, talking about her research on Growth Mindset.



And here’s an article from the Huffington Post talkin’ bout the same thing!


Hoops and hugs