I remember being a young skater and being so physically prepared for competition. I trained my body hard both on and off the ice. The muscle memory was there but on the day of competition a force greater than me would take over….my nerves!
When you fail to plan for how you will deal with your nerves plan to fail in your performance on the ice!
Just like you train your body during practice and off-ice conditioning classes, your mind also needs attention. Here are 5 simple steps you can follow to help you mentally train for the nerves that arise in competition.
1. Accept that nerves are a normal natural part of competition. It is normal to experience heightened levels of nervousness when you are in a high stress situation like competition. You have trained hard and are emotionally invested in how you skate. You are not alone!.
2. Acknowledge the nerves that you are feeling. Do not try to push them away or pretend they don’t exist. Instead, bring attention to them, taking them from the unconscious to the conscious mind, so you can change them. You will feel empowered!
3. Identify the nerves by listening to your body. Ask yourself, “how does my body express nervousness”? Write down the physiological and mental reactions your body experiences. Putting them on paper reinforces what you did in step 1 and 2.
4. Breathe. Use deep breathing to calm your nerves. Deep breathing in the nose and out the mouth has a very strong physiological effect on calming the body. The great thing about using deep breathing as a tool for relaxation is that you can do it anywhere: in the car on the way to the rink, in the dressing room while lacing your skates, or standing by the boards waiting to skate out to your starting position.
5. Breath + Visualization. To really reinforce the impact of the deep breathing you can pair it with visualization. While closing your eyes, focus on the body part that is experiencing the stress. Visualize yourself sending the breath to the body part and command the body part to RELAX.
I teach this 5 step technique to the skaters I work with and also create a personalized script that they use while engaging in the visualization. If you are interested in learning more about this technique and the techniques I teach in the Mind-Body Performance Coaching Program, send me a message!
Until Next Time,
Keep Your Brain in the Game