Skate and Smile :-)

Some tips for how you can mentally prepare for a competition so you’ll be ready to rock the ice!

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Getting in the right mindset

Have you ever heard a coach say that the game (or medal) is won in the five inches between your ears? What that means is that a focused and positive mindset is key to performing your best. Here some great tips on mentally preparing before any competition, event or skate test.
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Set goals

Before competitions and events, set specific goals for yourself. The best goals are ones can you directly control like, skating a clean program or landing a jump you’ve been practicing or just enjoying the experience. Keep a record of your goals (and when you achieve them!) as a motivator.
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Visualize yourself on the ice

Mentally going through each portion of your routine helps you focus on the performance and see how you can achieve goals—like skating a clean performance. Practice visualization often, including on competition day!
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Focus on the performance in front of you

If you begin to let your mind wander to the coming test or the school event later this weekend, your mind will not be ready to perform. To help stay focused skaters like Evan Lysacek listen to a favourite song. Others read an inspirational quote or do stretching exercises.
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Positive self-talk

The skater Jeremy Abbott has said, “Everyone has doubt in themselves, but I used to believe it. That little nagging voice in the back of my head that told me I couldn’t do it, I’d believe it. I’m learning I can quiet that voice and tell it to shut up.” Just like Jeremy, you can learn to quiet negative thoughts you may have prior to an event. Trust your training, your coaches and your abilities, and tell yourself that you can meet your goals. (Saying it out loud really does help!)

What you need and do not need to do before the competition:

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Be prepared. Pack your skate bag with all of the appropriate items (skates, extra laces, hair clips, blade guards, music etc.) at least one night before your competition. When you don’t have to worry about forgetting something, it’s much easier to focus once you’re at the rink. The night before, make sure you have everything set out or packed.

Once everything is all packed, take a warm bath, and get dressed in your favourite, most comfortable pyjamas. Go to sleep a little earlier than usual, especially if you are skating in the morning. Set your alarm clock for around an hour to an hour and a half before you’ll have to leave the next day.

You’ll need:

  • Tights (non-ripped)
  • Skates (cleaned and polished)
  • Dress/outfit
  • Two copies of your music
  • Spare laces (clean)
  • Your schedule
  • Guards and soakers
  • A warm-up jacket and gloves
  • Make-up
  • Hairspray, a brush, clips,  and all other hair items you’ll need
  • A few snacks and water bottles
  • Money to buy souvenirs, if wanted
  • A favourite stuffed animal or item
  • Homework you have if you are missing school
  • Stopwatch to time yourself if you will have a time limit
  • Camera, if wanted
  • Anything else you want/need
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When your alarm goes off, get up. Shower if you need to, and then do your regular morning routines. Have a small, healthy breakfast, and don’t eat too much. Some is better than none, as you don’t want to feel faint before skating. It’s a good idea to have some water or juice as well. After that, you can do anything you need or want to do until around twenty or thirty minutes before you will have to go.
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At that time, get on your outfit that you will be wearing while competing if wanted (this can be done at the rink as well, but you may be a little pressed for time), and put your jacket on over it. Do not have anything to eat or drink unless you absolutely need to from here until when you are done skating, as you don’t want to ruin the dress. You should also do your hair (wear it up; never leave your hair down, unless it’s very short, at skating competitions) and make-up now. It’s a good idea to still bring along all of your hair items and make-up along, as you will probably want to touch up there.
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Arrive at least an hour and a half before your warm-up starts. Once you are at the rink, register, get your gift bag if they are giving them out, and relax until you have practice ice or your group warm-up. You can talk to other skaters or coaches, watch other programs, explore the rink, or look through the racks of skating items that are usually selling.
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Make the most of any practice time you get. Don’t spend time talking to fellow skaters, or working on moves that aren’t in your program, especially riskier ones. Run through your program as much as you can. Remember to look up and smile, and time yourself using the stopwatch if you will be having a time limit.
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Around thirty minutes before you go on, depending on what you need to do, start getting ready. Use the restroom, spray on some more hairspray, touch up your make-up, brush your teeth… whatever you need! This is a good time to start stretching.
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Before going on the ice, do what makes you feel best. Hold your stuffed animal or favourite item if you brought one, visualize yourself winning, practice your program on the ground, talk to your coach, jump around to get your jitters out; whatever makes you feel good is fine. Remember to take off your warm-up jacket and gloves and take deep breaths. Believe that you’re going to win; a positive attitude helps!
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Skate your best! Look up and smile like you practiced, and don’t feel rushed. Do all your elements as best as you can, and be proud of yourself, no matter what place you take.
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Remember to pick your award up afterwards if you get one, and take the group picture if it is required.
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After this, you may leave or watch other programs, whichever you’d like.

Parents at a Competition Day

  • Your role at a competition can be a major ingredient to your child’s performance.
  • You are an important support system! Determining how and when you provide support is the challenge. Every child is different and has its own needs, which change over time. Their needs at a competition day may be affected by the level of competition being taken, demands of coaches, amount of free time, accreditation or access to your child, media presence and their own confidence in their ability.
  • The most important thing to do before hand is to work out a pre-competition routine with your skater and coach.
  • He or she should be allowed to determine where they want you to be while they dress, practice, stretch, wait to perform and perform. This is often best arrived at away from the competitive site by asking “what do you want from me at the rink”?
  • Adhering to a routine gives a skater security and structure to a period of time that is totally unpredictable.
  • Typically, an athlete may prefer to be alone, to walk through the programme but needs to know you are not too far away, just in case they want to talk.
  • Multiple instructions, trying to psych them up or calm them down, sometimes only adds to the problem.
  • The most important thing is that they feel confident and that they are at an excitation level they can handle.
  • You can facilitate this by presenting a calm, confident front and letting them do their thing.
    Often we express how we feel, more in the way we act and behave, than in what we say. If we are excited, tense, nervous, or anxious prior to a competition, the skater will pick up on this. They will feel our anxiety in spite of our constant reassurances. Overt parental anxiety only adds to the degree of difficulty of the task they have to undertake.
  • Above all, ensure that your child feels loved and valued no matter how they skate.

Have fun! 😀