Just like you, I am a die-hard figure skating fan. I have been that way all my life. Growing up a competitive figure skater in Cape Breton, when I wasn’t on the ice I was at home watching and recording every competition and replaying it over and over to analyze technique on jumps and spins and identify inspiration in intricate connecting moves to incorporate into my own skating. Now, some 20 years later, I am still watching and analyzing but I am more curious and interested in what goes on off the ice, in the kiss and cry or during an interview after a performance.
I am a Mind-Body Performance Coach who specializes in training young figure skater’s minds, helping them improve their mental game and empowering them with the skills to achieve peak athletic and life performance. My goal is to educate skaters, coaches and parents on the importance of mental training
Perhaps you have read the article I wrote about Patrick Chan after his incredible skate at Skate Canada this year. His performance was inspiring but it was the conversation I overheard him having with his coach in the kiss and cry that I believe young skaters could learn from the most. It was in those “quiet moments” that provided a glimpse into the off-ice training that helped an elite athlete create an epic performance. Read the article here https://rebekahdixon.ca/what-patrick-chans-performance-at-skate-canada-can-teach-us-about-mental-training/
Today I want to share with you what I learned from those “quiet moments” at last weekend’s Canadian National Championships and use the performance’s of some of our elite athletes to demonstrate the impact of mental training at its best!
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro
Let’s begin with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, who had one of the most talked about performances of the competition. After an unexpected, brutal and total-fluke fall on the triple twist at the very beginning of the short program you would have thought that was it! There is no way they can come back from a fall like that and make the rest of the program great.
However, it was evident that they had spent time strengthening their mental muscles because they were able to FOCUS ON ONE ELEMENT AT A TIME, LET GO of the twist and MOVE ON to the side-by-side triple toes. Completing the rest of the elements in the program flawlessly.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
Next, let’s focus on Meagan Duhamel. She expressed that she was “struggling to find the balance” that made her, and partner Eric Radford, so successful last season. This was evident during the programs, watching her go into the side-by-side jumps with uncharacteristic doubt and hesitation. As Tracey Wilson put it, “she was struggling to live up to the label of World Champion”.
When athletes OVERTHINK their performance and allow themselves to get STUCK INSIDE THEIR HEADS they struggle to FOCUS FULLY ON THEIR PERFORMANCE. Stop focusing on WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST or WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. Past and future are in your imagination. The present is the only reality. Focus fully on THE PRESENT PERFORMANCE.
The final example I want to share with you was when Elvis Stojko was interviewed by Scott Moir and shared an insight into Patrick Chan’s mental training. Patrick struggled to land all his jumps in his short program warm-up however he went out and skated a flawless short program. Elvis said, “Patrick used his warm-up as a warm-up, to get his body in the zone, not to build his confidence”.
I believe this is such an important statement! For skaters, all their training has lead to this moment, this performance. The elite athlete is able to MAINTAIN FOCUS and LET WHATEVER HAPPENS IN WARM-UP STAY IN WARM-UP and not determine how they feel going into a performance. They go out and “do their job” regardless of the moments leading up to then.