A difficult season laced with underwhelming performances has plagued Evgenia so far. A disappointing 2nd place finish at the Olympics followed by a big move from Russia to Canada training with Brian Orser, and new choreographic and technical changes, she appears to be a shell of her former “super-competitor” self. When I watch her on practice versus competition I see a very different skater. Her fierce determination is still very evident in practice however when she is skating her program she appears cautious and concerned, trying to prevent the inevitable mistakes.
In the past the audience felt confident watching her going into her jumps; her consistency was remarkable! Now, when she enters her jumps I am crossing my fingers and toes that she will do it. I can imagine the weight of expectations from her federation, fans, coaches and self would feel like an elephant on her shoulders. Perhaps this is the reason for such a difficult season?
What is the big difference?…CONFIDENCE!
Evgenia has lost her confidence and is doubting herself. Every skater goes through a period in their career where the wind has been knocked out of their sails but very few have to do it on such a global stage. Evegenia has not lost her jumps, she has lost the unwavering belief in herself. The good thing is that this can be built again. With the right support team, emphasizing mental training, I believe she can come back better than ever!
Train to ReBuild
What is your performance story? This is the belief system, both negative and positive, that shape who you are as a competitor. These beliefs develop over time and are influenced by your thoughts and other’s comments about your performance. After many disappointing performances, Evgenia would be internalizing feedback from many different sources that are shaping her performance story in a more negative way. This story runs on autoplay in the unconscious until you bring awareness to it and consciously start to rebuild it.
Bringing gentle awareness and curiosity without judgment to the thoughts and feelings you have cultivated is the first step to practice mindful self-compassion. I know this can feel like a foreign concept to many of us A type, perfectionist personality types who are so abundant in the sport of figure skating. It is exactly the medicine we need to heal and align our thoughts and goals to achieve peak performance. You can practice mindfulness by doing a simple body scan, focusing your attention away from the wandering mind and on the body. When distracting thoughts pop up, simply mark them as a thought and bring your attention back to your body. Skaters can participate in an exercise I call Mindful Stroking. During the stroking warm up at the beginning of every practice bring attention to your 4 senses: sight, hearing, touch and smell. Notice these experiences while you stroke, bringing your mind into the present. For Evgenia, integrating mindful practices into her training will help her “get in the zone” both on and off the ice.
If you have experienced a change in your training that has rocked your confidence I encourage you to find a mental trainer who can help you rebuild your mindset so that you can train and perform to your greatest potential. I know you can do it!
photo (c) olympicchannel.com