Why is it that whenever it comes to a test or a competition, the week of the, the day before, or even during warm up everything seems to fall apart? Training for months, and everything is solid until the test approaches. All of the sudden there is an added stress, a time restraint to be perfect. Any other “bad” session brushes off with “Wow that was rough, but Ill be fine tomorrow.” The mindset before a test; however, changes drastically into, “OH MY GOSH I CANT DO THIS, I STINK!” Reading it sounds ridiculously, right? But you know its true! Its the curse of the stress of the test. Its a perfect example of how powerful the mind is. We know it happens, but how do we change it? There are many techniques that are used for helping with stress before a competition or a test, but it takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Some techniques include: deep breathing, visualization, meditation, routine, or even hypnosis. Some of them seem “crazy” but don’t knock it until you try it.
When I was skating, double flips were my worst enemy. It all started when I didn’t have a rocker left on my blade so all of my landings on my jumps I would fall straight backwards…especially the double flip. I would pound myself into the ice doing jump after jump after jump. Why no one stopped me, Ill never know. When I became a professional skater I avoided the double flip as much as a I could, but two years into my career it was put into a program. I would get so worked up every time I had to perform a double flip even if it was just practice. I would get short of breath and automatically want to tear up. Double lutz’s great, double loops even better. Shoot I would take a triple over a double flip! It came to the point where I knew I had to do something in able to perform. My mother had mentioned a hypnotist and I thought she was crazy, but I was desperate. After a few session, I could go out a do a double flip just like any other jump with no hesitation, short of breath, or anxiety. The hypnotist put me in the hypnosis state, and would have me think of a double flip and then immediately think of a specific good, relaxing memory. Now every I set up for a double flip, I think of that single memory he had me relate to. I know it sounds great, but thats why I say “Dont knock it til you try.”
Here is a great article with some great ways to help psych yourself down before a test or competition.
No matter what you do there will be stresses and changes that are outside of your control. You can try to make your day as routine as possible, but remember that there are limited things that you are in control of. You are in control of your body and your mind. You are not in control of the temperature of the rink, the quality of the ice, or what time of day you skate. Remember to focus on the things you are in control of instead of the things you are not. Most of all remember, you can. You wouldn’t have signed up for the test or competition if you are not ready. Believe in yourself, and believe in the power of your own skating.