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Let’s talk Strategy: Managing Pre-Competition Nerves

Competition season is in full swing and with it the inevitable pre-competition jitters. Feeling a rush of adrenaline before a big event is totally normal and can even help give your performance a boost! Too much and you might derail your own success. It’s like walking a tightrope, to be sure. But we’ve got five proven tidbits of advice – that all come from skaters – to help make sure you balance your nerves and your anticipation!

  1. Feeling good is key: With nerves often comes a host of other questions that can cripple your confidence – am I going to remember the sequence? Can I really land that jump? My practice time was rough – what if I don’t get better in the next 5 minutes? This is not only unhelpful, this is hurtful. Do what you need to do to feel good. Don’t have a clue what that is? Ask yourself the following question: what can I do in the next 2 minutes that will make me smile and then do that. Listen to your favorite song, have a mini-dance party like no one is watching, crack a joke, find something to laugh at, look at pictures of puppies – no judgement!
  2. The present is a gift, recognize it: Mess up during your practice ice time? Who cares? What use is it to let it affect your future performance? Worried about your routine coming up in two skaters time? Why? You’re not there yet. There is nothing you can do about the past and predicting the future is equally pointless. The present is a difficult space to be, psychologically, but worry comes from anticipating negative events in the future based on non-perfect past experience. The fix? Focus on the present. Allow to live in the seconds that are currently passing. As one of our employees and fellow skater’s put it, “I don’t worry about if I’m going to do well or not. Every time I step onto the ice for a competition, I’m going to show people how much I love to skate.”
  3. Trust your training: You’re not stepping out onto the ice after you’ve seen your program for the first time. You’ve ran your program enough times. You’ve trained for this. You need to trust that you’re prepared. There might be some elements that are shaky, and that’s A-OK. You can’t fix them in the moments before a competition. Have faith in yourself and more than that, know that you’ve developed the muscle memory you need to carry you through your program.
  4. Fuel properly: As an athlete, your body is your greatest tool. Conditioning is one thing, but properly eating is a whole different ball-game. To use a tried and true metaphor: an athlete’s body is like a luxury car, you’re going to want to fuel it with premium gas. What you put in your body has a direct impact on how well you are able to perform. During competition season, you should be practicing healthy eating habits. In the days leading up to, and the morning of your event, this should also be a hard rule. Eat healthy and eat enough. Make sure you’re putting premium in the tank.
  5. Familiarity is your Friend: Humans, in general, are most comfortable with what we know and most uncomfortable with what we don’t. It’s why skating in your home rink with your coach feels easy and safe, and why skating in a competition in another city can be downright nerve-wracking. The question then becomes, how do you bring a sense of familiarity with you to your competitions – whether they take place at your home rink or two states over? It comes down to how you train. In the weeks before your competition, solidify a consistent and easily identifiable routine. Do you always drink coffee before you go on the ice? Is oatmeal and a banana your go-to breakfast? Are you wearing over the boot tights? Gloves? A dress? Do you listen to 10 minutes of music before you go on? Is your warm-up routine the same? The bottom line is this: whatever you do on the day of the event should not be the first time you do it. It’s not the time to experiment. Stick with what’s tried and true and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.


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