Is Your Head Getting in the Way of Your Performances?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you competing at the level that you’re capable of? Do you regularly perform better in practice and then pop your jumps in important competitions? Are there particular opponents who you consistently lose to who have no business beating you? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from skating to your potential. Are you the kind of skater who "wins" warm-up and then falls apart when it counts the most?
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental part of skating your is. If you want to take your performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to take your training far beyond where most skaters go. Most serious figure skaters religiously work on the physical and technical part of the sport. They’ll work on their jumps, spins and combinations as well as their strength and fitness. They'll put time into the dance side of their performance. Is this stuff important? You betcha! You can’t become successful as a skater without “paying your physical dues” in this way. Hard work and good technique are definitely the main keys to your success on the ice. Without them, you’ll underachieve.
Unfortunately, this is where most skaters stop in their training. When they go into their competitions, they hope they’ll skate well, they hope that they’ll have their “A” game with them today, they hope that they’ll skate a clean program!. However, you would never leave your conditioning or proper technique to chance. So why would you leave the most important part of your skating performance, the mental part to chance?
Getting good and going as far as possible as a skater in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. However, once you skate onto the ice for the start of your short or long program, the percentages flip flop. Skating to your potential is now 95% mental and 5% physical!
You have to work hard on your conditioning and “physical game” (good technique), but once you have the conditioning, technique and muscle memory to skate well, you have to make sure that you stay calm under pressure and keep yourself focused on the right things. For example, your concentration needs to stay in the moment, on the element that you're doing RIGHT NOW! If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (i.e. thinking about winning or losing) or slip back to the past (i.e. a previous mistake), then you’ll end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to skate your best. This means that you have to be able to rebound quickly from your mistakes and not carry them through the rest of your program or into the next one!
You have to believe in yourself and when you’re under pressure, you need the self-confidence to focus on yourself and not how well your opponents skate! You have to be able to handle last minute negativity and self-doubts. You have to be able to master your fears.
With a little work, these mental skills as well as a few important others can be systematically trained to the point where you develop the reputation as a mentally tough skater. My CD program, The Best Mental Toughness Training Program for Figure Skaters (ON SALE NOW!) will take you to the next level!
Are you struggling with performance anxiety or a slump? Do you consistently perform better in practice than when it counts?
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally recognized expert in the field of performance enhancement. As a Sports Performance consultant Dr. G works with skaters at every level as well as athletes across all sports, helping them overcome performance fears and blocks, develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform to their potential. Dr. G. is a regular columnist for a number of national and international publications. . Dr. G writes on the subjects of peak performance training and mental toughness. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, "This Is Your Brain On Sports: Beating Blocks, Slumps and Performance Anxiety for Good!" Check out his most popular program- Mental Toughness Training Package for Figure Skaters-Special Savings.