This weekend, UCLA gymnastics will focus on itself – not the competition – as it looks to rebound from losing all three games of its three-week road trip.
After a month away, the No. 6 UCLA Bruins (7-3) return to Pauley Pavilion to host a quad meet against No. 3 Michigan (13-1), California (8-6) and Iowa State (4-6).
For UCLA, the key to this meet will be coming out on top of a top-15 opponent – something it hasn’t managed to do in the last three weeks.
To get the win, the team needs to focus on its mental toughness, said coach Valorie Kondos Field.
“The mistakes we’ve made aren’t coming from gymnastics mistakes, they’re coming from weak minds and not having a tight mental game,” she said.
“They’re coming from not keeping that positive energy up when one of the wheels starts to come off the bus.”
And by falling apart when the meet starts to turn sour, Kondos Field said that she feels that her team has been losing its own meets rather than been getting outplayed over the past few weeks.
“We lost the meet to Oklahoma but we had no regrets; we were just beaten by a better team,” she said. “We beat ourselves at Oregon State and Alabama.”
This is because UCLA was plagued by falls and imperfect performances against both Oregon State and Alabama, while the team managed a season-high road score against Oklahoma.
Senior Monique De La Torre said she also saw that the team defeat itself against Oregon State.
“Oregon State was a bad loss for us. We weren’t a team after that meet,” she said.
But senior Vanessa Zamarripa said she feels that the team just needs to train more confidently to get the team’s routines where they need to be.
“We need to not necessarily change the skill, but change the way we think about it,” she said. “It’s training smarter not harder.”
The competition will be trying for Zamarripa this weekend as she faces Michigan’s Joanna Sampson in the all-around competition. The women are nationally ranked first and second, respectively, in that event.
Despite facing three opponents, Kondos Field said she wants her team to focus on nothing but themselves.
“We don’t focus on the opponents because it’s a distraction,” she said. “The only thing that you can control is the moment.”