Fighting Fear with Dr. Alison Arnold – Episode 5


The Recap

Alison Arnold, also known as “Doc Ali” in the gymnastics world, has a more than interesting resume. She has a PhD in Psychology, is a former gymnast, and has been on trips to a monastery in Nepal, Peru, and Thailand, as well as in the jungle of the Amazon with a shaman. She has also been a mental toughness coach for USA Gymnastics since 1997. Doc Ali has worked with Olympic medalists, NCAA champions, and thousands of athletes to help achieve their dreams for the past 25 years. Using all she has learned from her life experiences, she works to help people toughen their minds and fight their fears to achieve ultimate success.

In this episode, we discuss how all gymnasts, even the elites, have fears and how you can train yourself to overcome your own personal fears. Doc Ali states some people are “fire” gymnasts and some people are “water” gymnasts—some people like pressure, some people like performing, or some people like competing; no one is exactly the same. We establish that there is no one specific way to do things; you need to figure out whatever works best for you and use it as a tool to help get better. However, having gratitude for fears and struggles makes you a stronger gymnast, once you appreciate what you have and what you’ve been through. In addition, Doc Ali speaks of her experience sitting in silence for two weeks in a monastery in Thailand.

Episode Highlights

  • 02:44 – Alison has always been a deep-thinker
  • 03:15 – Sam’s first memory of Alison
  • 04:34 – Alison’s first memory of Sam
  • 05:19 – Using distraction to help fight fear
  • 07:46 – All people have their “stuff”
  • 08:07 – Has Alison ever met a gymnast who is “incurable”
  • 09:58 – Everyone has fears or issues, even the elites
  • 11:45 – The more you use your brain, the more pathways you will form
  • 13:15 – Disciplining the mind, progressing, and flipping negative thoughts fast
  • 17:42 – It’s irrational to not be afraid of things, no matter how good you are
  • 19:03 – Working with kids who are perfect in training but nervous in competition
  • 22:03 – Everyone competes free in a different place
  • 22:51 – You’re either a fire or water gymnast
  • 24:06 – Do people change depending on age
  • 25:30 – Coaches need to know how to talk to their athletes and what tools to use
  • 27:58 – When coaches have a system or plan, both the coach and athlete will feel better
  • 28:49 – Using tools learned in gymnastics training in real life
  • 29:56 – How it felt for Alison to spend two weeks in silence in a monastery
  • 33:38 – You can’t complain for something you asked for
  • 34:36 – Having gratitude for everything including fears and struggles to make you better
  • 37:16 – What’s one way listeners can get one percent better

Tweetable Quotes

Links Mentioned

Destira: Gymnastics Leotards & Accessories

Tumbl Trak: Gymnastic, Cheer, Dance, Martial Arts and Special Needs Equipment

Alison’s Website

Alison’s Facebook

Connect with Sam

Sam on Instagram

BeamQueenBootcamp on Instagram

Sam on Twitter

Sam on Facebook

Podcast production and marketing provided by Fullcast.



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