The week before competition is typically a challenge for most skaters. Practice can be running smoothly, up until the last 3-5 days before competition, then there is a noticeable shift. As a mental trainer, I often work my hardest that week to reassure and remind my skaters to trust their training and the body’s muscle memory.
The 5 most common pre-competition behaviours I notice in skaters are:
- Jumping to conclusions – “I can’t do it today so I won’t be able to do it in competition!”
- Making mountains out of molehills – “I fell on the jump in the program so I can no longer do it!”
- Creating negative stories – “Last time I performed I messed up the spin, today it was bad so it is not going to work next weekend!”
- Overemphasizing the importance of the last clean run through – “This is the last run through and it wasn’t clean so now I am jinxed for the competition!”
- Emotions running high – Easily irritated both on and off the ice.
Do you experience some of these reactions before competition? If so, identify and write them down, recognize them as “common patterns of behaviour”. This will help in keeping your cool when you notice an emotion or behaviour arise.
There are tools you can implement to help you control these behaviours:
- Deep breathing – in the nose for 4 seconds and out the mouth for 6 seconds, calming the body
- Reframing – asking yourself, “what could I think instead?”
- Taking a time-out to implement visualization – by the boards, between attempts of the jump to reset.
- Practice Goal Setting – use my Practice Goal Setting Template to help you better organize your practices
Take control of your behaviour in the days leading up to competition and you will create more positive and productive practices that lead to great competitions!
Until next time,
Keep Your Brain in the Game