3 visualization techniques that allow figure skaters to achieve peak performance
by Stéphanie Siclari
The mental health discussion becomes more of a daily conversation as elite athletes speak out about the pressures they face and how they deal with the stress of being a top athlete. level.
As figure skaters, we are asked to do our best. We train day after day to prepare for the competition, the test or the show. Many of us monitor our diet and sleep patterns to make sure our bodies are at peak performance. Yet how many of us pay attention to the inner dialogue going on in our own heads?
One of the components of optimal performance is to prepare ourselves mentally for our competition, our test or even our training. No matter our level of skating, having a strong mental makeup can be the difference between succeeding in our program or succumbing to the nerves of a day of competition. After all, one of the old sayings is that sport is 90% mental and 10% physical. Yet as figure skaters we often spend 100% of our time working on our physical strengths and forget to work our minds to match.
Visualization for optimal performance
One of the most effective strategies for mentally preparing ourselves for the result we want to achieve is visualization. Generally speaking, visualization is guided imagery and visualization is the process of creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen in real life. *
Sit in a comfortable position or lie down, whichever feels most comfortable. Make sure you are free from distractions like your phone, TV, or even family or friends. Now on to the visual!
Three tips for optimal visualization
- To be realistic: Imagine yourself at the ice rink and visualize the landing of your Axel. Where do you usually jump on the ice? Who is around? Are you in a lesson or practice? What are you wearing? What music is playing? Immerse yourself completely in the exercise. The more realistic you can make the experience, the better (for optimal results). You skate around the rink, set up, take off and land just like you would on the ice. If you are visualizing a competition, imagine taking to the ice for your performance. What do you see? You take your starting position and your music starts. Go through your program from start to finish, imagining each element as it comes. It can be helpful to play your music so that you can “skate your program in your mind”.
See my guided viewing video.
- Without judgement : In ‘real life’ we don’t always do 10 out of 10 jumps, do we? If you miss your item while viewing, let it go and try again (like on ice). Like any muscle, training your mind takes practice. The more you practice visualization, the easier it becomes. However, there are still cases where it is not perfect. This is one of the many benefits of practicing visualization and mindfulness. Let go of what just happened in your imagination and try again, without judging yourself. Take a deep breath, shake it, and try again. Remember what went well and what didn’t, which brings us to step 3.
- Reflection: Keeping a written journal is a great way to record your progress. It also helps you keep track of what worked and what didn’t. Maybe you tried your jump to a different place on the ice than you normally would, and it worked. Or maybe you ‘felt’ the competitive nerves during the exercise. Write down how you felt and use it to your advantage on competition day. Of course, consult your trainer before making any changes to your routine.
* Source: Team United States
Stephanie Siclari has been teaching figure skating and power hockey for all ages and levels for 15 years. She has worked with skaters from around the world, who have competed in national and international competitions as well as the US World Synchronized Figure Skating Championships. She is a former senior female competitor and two-time United States synchronized skating champion and member of the United States team (University of Miami, Ohio, college and senior teams). She is the creator of SKATERFIT, an off-ice and on-ice training program designed to help skaters build confidence and physical and mental strength while providing a fun platform to achieve their goals. For more information, please visit coachstephaniesiclari.com. You can also visit him Youtubechannel for additional exercises.
Disclaimer: Stephanie Siclari is not a Registered Therapist and does not claim that the visualization techniques mentioned here are a direct way to treat mental health. If you are feeling stressed, anxious and / or having thoughts of suicide, please seek professional help.