Happy New Year! It is that time again. Everyone is in a mad frenzy setting goals, creating New Year’s resolutions, and attempting to eliminate old bad habits. I have been there, I have done that and, in the past, I have encouraged my athletes to do the same. This year is different. The energy is lower, not as optimistic, even uncertain. A new year but an unfamiliar you. I sense my athletes are tired, mentally and emotionally.

Motivation is a real struggle right now and I think we all can relate. How do you set goals when your province/state is in lockdown and you can’t even go to school let alone the rink?! So many athletes have lost routines, rink friends, competitions to work toward and measure their improvement on. If you are experiencing any of these same feelings, you are not alone. 

How can you move through this challenging time with continued love for your sport? Two mental training strategies that can help include: acknowledging the HUGE push outside your comfort zone and feeling all the feelings.

Acknowledging the Comfort Zone

If you have been following my work you know I talk a lot about the benefits of expanding your comfort zone. It is amusing to look back at the comfort zone expanding suggestions I have given my athletes and how the pandemic has changed everything about their training. 

For example, I used to suggest:

  1. “Sit in a different spot in the dressing room” – now athletes are putting their skates on in their car!
  2. “Change up your warm-up routine” – now athletes are warming up in the parking lot!

Perhaps the biggest difference is in the structure of competitions. Virtual events, where you record your program at your home rink and send it in to be evaluated. After several weeks, it is broadcasted live and you receive your results. Or you travel to a “safe rink”, socially distance from your competitors, warm-up wearing a mask, and leave directly after you skated, not watching or interacting with any competitors. 

I am willing to bet, you have never before experienced a time that has pushed you further outside your comfort zone. It is so important to recognize this and to reflect on how adaptable you have become. This will surely impact your skating in a positive way upon returning to “normalcy”! I say, give yourself a much deserved a pat on the back for that.

Feeling all the Feelings

Sadness, frustration, excitement, anger, fear, joy. These are just some of the feelings you may be experiencing in a day. We can feel more than one feeling at a time. We are used to categorizing certain feelings as good or bad, but actually they are all an integral part of being human. Have you ever thought you needed to feel a certain way to perform your best? Well, what if you didn’t? 

What if you could simply notice a feeling, label it without judging it and still perform the way you intended? This is what mindfulness teaches. To be present, noticing the thought or the feeling without allowing it to control your behavior. I believe athletes need to practice mindfulness skills now more than ever! This has been the focus of my mental training with athletes for the past month.

So, instead of judging yourself for not yet knowing what your goals are or for feeling tired or sad, recognize the ways you have expanded your comfort zone and let yourself feel all the feelings. Spend time remembering why you love to skate and dig deep to rekindle that passion. Passion, purpose, and motivation comes from your “why”. I am here if you would like to include more mindfulness into your off-ice training. 

It is a great time to invest in yourself, and that includes mental training!

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Use this worksheet to identify the KEY CHARACTERISTICS of your confident self so you can CHOOSE to use them going into your next competition.

Get the worksheet –> https://rebekah-dixon.mykajabi.com/pl/141210

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