Self Doubt in Figure Skating: Why Do I Pop So Many Jumps?

Sports Psychology Figure SkatingJumps can come and go; I call this going on jump vacation.  It is not uncommon for a jump to leave you for a while, only to return.  When skaters begin to do their doubles, triples and beyond, they learn the bad habit of “popping”.  Popping is very frustrating and discouraging for the skater and coach.  Popping is caused by the skater doubting themselves while in the jump; this is usually a split second decision.

Popping a jump is when the set up and take off of the jump is completed but when in the air the skater opens up and does not complete the rotation of the jump.  Most often a popped jump is landed on two feet.  This can increase your chance of injuring the knees.

Skaters pop jumps for a variety of reasons.  They have fallen and are now afraid of the jump, they are not confident of landing the jump, or they feel too pressured to perform the jump.  The mind is a very powerful tool that we all possess; the problem is that the mind controls our bodies.

When the mind says not to do the jump, the body will follow the leader and not do the jump.  The same goes for circling and not attempting the jump.  A skater that is experiencing doubt will take any excuse not to execute the jump.  After a few pops and many circles, the frustration begins to settle in.  The skater, coach and parent begin to get frustrated and the situation can only get worse unless the skater can get their mind back under control and get rid of doubts.

Many coaches use the counting method for eliminating the popping syndrome.  Know each step of the jump from preparation to landing and count through them.  This allows the mind to focus on counting and not so much on the jump itself.  Trust is also a big issue when it comes to executing a jump. Having trust in your ability and training will allow you to perform the jump with no doubt, thus eliminating popping.

Doing the jumps off of the ice and using imagery is a great way to increase your trust and decrease doubt.  Be careful of your language; do not call yourself names or talk down to yourself. Telling yourself that you are a loser will only make things worse, but telling yourself that you can do just might make things better.

Most skaters spend hour after hour preparing physically, but no time preparing mentally.  Keep in mind that metal preparation is extremely important, especially since many coaches and skaters believe that 95% of skating is mental.

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