After watching the World Figure Skating Championships I was left wondering how the athletes coped with distractions. Every competition presents distractions but this one was different. For many skaters this was their first competition of the season. They were travelling and quarantining with pandemic restrictions. No audience present to boost the energy of the arena. Fear of the virus. Stress of securing Olympic spots for their country. These were just a few of the distractions I imagine most skaters experienced. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the skaters last weekend.

Zoom into Everything Skating 2.0

Meagan Duhamel hosted the first of four recovery days in her Zoom into Everything Skating 2.0 workshop. I was fortunate to facilitate a mental training session for the skaters. Then we were all treated to a panel discussion with skaters hot off the World Championships. Canada’s top lady, Madeline Schizas and the USA’s top pair team, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier shared their experience. I asked the skaters how they were able to quiet their distracting thoughts. 

Quieting Distractions

Brandon shared that he put his skating into perspective and focused on being happy to have the opportunity to compete. He credited his team for their support that made him feel confident in his training. No matter the outcome, he knew he would learn something that would make him a stronger skater. I liked how Brandon said he would “press the cancel button” when he noticed his negative thoughts pop up.

Alexa said she experienced more internal distractions, like negative thoughts. Realizing that you can be 100% prepared for competition and still not skate your best is something she is still grappling with. She found it easier to “knock out” the distracting negative thoughts in the short program than it was to do the so in the long.

Madeline’s biggest distraction came when she found herself in the top 10 after the short program. Being the only Canadian lady to qualify for the long program, she shared how she was not mentally prepared for this. The stress of securing Olympic spots for next season really got to her and she didn’t skate her best in the long. She was happy there was no audience to present a bigger distraction. 

Learning from the Best

Watching the skaters perform and then hearing them reflect on the physical and mental training required, was insightful. This is how you learn to be a better athlete. You realize those you look up to are just like you. They experience nerves, negative thoughts, and self-doubt. Show up, ask questions and use their strategies to overcome your own distractions. 

Until next time,

Keep your Brain in the Game

P.S. you can still sign up for the Zoom into Everything Skating 2.0 recovery days. There are 3 remaining sessions, each Sunday in the month of April. Take advantage of this training. Email Meagan to sign up —>

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