Mental Training For Figure Skaters – How To Control Your Nerves

Sports Psychology Figure SkatingEvery athlete will experience butterflies and a case of the nerves at some time in their sport.  Figure skaters are no exception. In fact, I believe that only an extremely small percentage of figure skaters are able to honestly say that they do not get nervous.  The nerves or butterflies that set in before competition or testing are the type that can cause skaters to perform poorly. Without mental training, these nerves will likely affect your performance.

I have asked many skaters what makes them nervous or what are they afraid of?  Almost all say that they are afraid of falling, forgetting their program or making their coach or parents mad.

Figure skaters who use effective mental training can learn how to focus on their routine and block out any fear of falling or forgetting their program. Everyone falls at one point, and most will fall in competitions.

A perfect or “clean” program is a dream come true for most skaters.  Worrying about letting down coaches is what we call an external factor.  This means something that the skater is worried about before entering the building.

When a skater is concerned with upsetting their parents or coach, this fear can be so great that they will not be able to perform their best.  I recently worked with a skater that was told by her parents that if she did not place on the podium in the next competition, she would never skate again. These types of threats only add pressure to a skater and do not make them skate better.

Many skaters also say that they are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of the audience.  I often find myself reminding them that the audience came to cheer them on and not judge them.  The family and friends that are watching know how hard they train every day.

They understand that most of their waking moments are spent skating or thinking about skating.  Skaters must remember that they are skating for themselves.  This is a time to show yourself just how hard you have been training.

It is true that nerves are hard to get rid of, but they are easy to contain.  Skaters that are prepared both mentally and physically are the least nervous.  I recommend that skaters do as many competitions as possible, skate at different rinks, and do exhibitions at every opportunity.  Prepare for competition by wearing your completion outfit and begin to feel comfortable in it.  The more comfortable you are with your complete program, the more comfortable you will be at competitions or testing.

I recommend that skaters also stay warmed up, wear ear buds and listen to your favorite music while waiting for their turn to compete.  Mental training helps figure skaters stay focused and learn how to use imagery as a way to prepare for competition.

Parents and coaches should avoid being negative and maintain confidence.  Tell your skaters how proud you are of their hard work and amazing ability.

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