refresh button

Hitting the Refresh Button

When I first started coaching at UCLA, I was asked to coach balance beam along with choreographing floor routines. I had no idea what I was doing. I quickly realized that a huge part of success on beam was the athlete’s mental game. When everything was going well, there was no need to make adjustments. However, when things started going awry, I could see the athlete get nervous, which quickly turned into wobbles and falls—it was time to adjust. I also noticed that if the athlete wobbled on a skill she then tried “extra” hard on the next skill, which didn’t produce the desired results either.

It was early in my coaching career that I came up with the analogy of hitting the proverbial refresh button. On our computers the purpose of the refresh button is to wipeout what’s being displayed and to reload it with fresh content. We sometimes do this because our browser gets stuck on bad bits of code.

In gymnastics, I coach our athletes to continuously hit the refresh button. It has the same affect on their mental game as it does on a computer. It allows them to discard any junk in their brains that is keeping them from performing their best and gets them refocused on the important stuff… their cues.

Like all things in athletics, the process mimics what we do outside the gym. In life, when I’m feeling stuck, frustrated, or baffled I hit the refresh button. It allows me to get “out of my way” and see the situation clearly.

One example that comes to mind, because it happens all the time every day, is when I’m working with someone or having a discussion about something and the other person doesn’t get what I’m saying. My immediate reaction is to get frustrated and pissy. However, if I take the time to hit the refresh button I’m able to see the disconnect much more clearly and can adjust my life cues appropriately. This usually takes on the form of me listening more, a calmer discussion and at least an outcome of agreeing to disagree versus the exasperated alternative.

In your daily life, how could you benefit from a refresh button push?

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27 Comments on "Hitting the Refresh Button"

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This is so inspiring to me. My name is Jessica and unfortunately ECT treatment for depression and Bulimia left me without a lot of my memories. So at the age of 23 I have to have a huge reset and try and accept what went wrong in order to move on. I don’t know who I am or what I am going to do, but I have to be willing to try. Through my years of illness I have always watched gymnastics and am so inspired by all of the coaches and athletes. I got to attend the world championships… Read more »
HItting the “refresh” button is something that teachers do all the time. The very first time I had to observe a teacher, she had to hit the “refresh” button in the middle of her math lesson. She realized that her lesson wasn’t working, scrapped it, and started over again. This was a new curriculum that she wasn’t familiar with teaching and had very little training from her district. She also wasn’t a new teacher. She had 20+ years of experience and was one of my teachers when I was in school! This observation taught me far more than if she… Read more »
Ariana Magro
Miss Val, I’m super nervous to do this as I’ve never commented on a blog, but I hope this is helpful for you and anyone who sees it. My name is Ariana Magro, I’m 23 years old from Texas and I was a gymnast for many years but had to stop due to the development of an eating disorder (Anorexia). Over the last 11 years I have battled anorexia nervosa and it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve been in and out of the hospital over 55 times and been to over 30 eating disorder treatment… Read more »

Ariana, I understand where you’re coming from. There was a time when my identity was my unhealthy lifestyle. I wanted to change but the thought of not having my “crutch” was terrifying! I just took it day by day. Rather than saying “I’ll never ever do this again” I would tell myself “not today. I’m not doing it today”. Pretty soon those days turn into weeks, then months, etc. you can do it. I believe in you.

Mike Wynn

Miss Val taught me this about 5-6 years ago. I am a professional acrobat who understands when one thing goes a little wrong it affects my mind and therefore affects how I perform on the next task. She taught to to take a second, and tell yourself “refresh”. It has been a cue in my life on stage, at auditions, and anytime I feel myself getting overwhelmed with a current situation. I can’t tell you how much it helps and gets me back on track to perform my best. Thanks Miss Val!!!


My refresh button is humor. I can always relax & have a better attitude after a good laugh. I either pull up comedy albums on my playlist or on YouTube (Kathleen Madigan is hysterical!!) or I call one of my sisters or brother. They can always “talk me down” & help me find the humor in a situation. Best advice I’ve ever gotten from my oldest sister is “Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke”


What do you do to ‘refresh’? I feel like my whole life needs a refresh button at the moment.

Rebecca Sheppard
I am going to give this a try at the rink this afternoon. I have hit a stumbling block with a few of my skaters where I either end up in arguments with them or walking away to avoid them (which is effective to avoid the argument but leaves wasted time and occasionally hurt feelings). I am going to try the refresh button in exactly the way you described, when we are disagreeing about something and therefor not listening to each other fully. I have used many little tidbits from your musings at the rink this year with much success… Read more »
For me, the hardest times are the times when things are out of my hands. When I am studying for a test or working on a job application, I am able to pour myself into the task at hand and ignore the anxiety. However, once the test has been taken or the application has been submitted, the anxiety starts to rise as I wait for the results. These are the times when I really need the refresh button. For me, though, the refresh button goes beyond just wiping away what had happened (i.e. the anxiety). For me, the refresh button… Read more »
Christine McCoy
I really enjoyed this very on point article. I am a former gymnast and Coach/Coreographer for USAG L7 -Elite and I have seen the struggle some kids have with both what i call…”moving forward” and interpersonal relationships. I really have been a fan of your coaching style, and your positive spin on many difficult behaviour issues that gymnast’s encounter. Your athlete’s have always reflected a very well adjusted attitude and team spirit. Which is awesome to see in a sport that can be a breeding ground for borderline personality disorder. Thank you for sharing and I hope you do not… Read more »
This is good. Hitting the “refresh” button is something I need to focus on. For me, I tend to dwell and/or obsess over things I do wrong, even if it’s something insignificant like having an awkward interaction with someone. I think it is definitely part of that perfectionist “type A” personality that I absolutely have always had. I have gotten better as of late at hitting refresh, but it’s a challenge for sure and something I need to be more mindful of. I have also started telling myself, “MOVE ON!,” so perhaps that is another one of my life cues… Read more »