How many hours a week do you waste while training? How many jumps or spins do you attempt without trying to change anything from the previous attempt? Training isn’t always about how many hours you spend on the ice; it is about how effective you are while you are training. You could train 30 or 40 hours on the ice but it might only have the same effect as someone skating 10 hours. It wasn’t until I skated at a training camp in the Netherlands when I learned what a difference focus can make on your skating.
I was always a jumper and a go getter. A coach could barely keep me standing still long enough to listen to what to change before I was on my way to try again. That all changed at the skating camp when we spent 30 minutes gliding on two feet back and forth across the length of the ice trying to align our heads correctly on top of our bodies. That was probably the first time I experienced focus in my skating, and from then on the focus became more narrowed and more clear.
There are so many distractions while skating such as other skaters whizzing past, music blaring, coaches yelling and so on that it takes an incredible amount of mental practice in order to concentrate while skating. In order to specify your attention on certain areas of your body is as mentally tiring or maybe even more exhausting than skating is physically tiring. Developing your mental toughness needs to be practiced just as much as any skating skill. There are so many things that you can concentrate on while performing one element. Start by focusing on 1 aspect of the element and when you feel confident your concentration is strong, you can add another thing to think about. Yes, you can only think about one thing at a time if you are focusing, but you can set your thoughts in a sequence. For example, during an axel you would be able to have a few different focuses. The entry position, the take off, air position and the landing. You can still be pinpointing your attention to specific details, but there will be more than one during one element. Setting your concentration on multiple things during one element is very difficult if you are not used to focusing. Start with one main focus and you can build on that foundation when you feel comfortable.
Concentrating and having body awareness can happen on a simple glide. Every movement made on the ice can be dissected into different focuses. When it comes to training, these are the details that need to be executed. The concentration needs to be maintained throughout the skating session. Someone could spend 30 or 40 hours a week training with the mentality of “the lights are on but no one is home” and accomplish nothing or even create bad habits. Another skater could train only 10 hours that week with great concentration on details that will build a strong foundation for their skating. Ignoring the details and only going through the motions with no focus inadvertently will set skaters up for failure.
If you are going to train do it right. Why waste endless hours of training to accomplish nothing? Just because you are on the ice doesn’t mean you are practicing. Just because you are practicing doesn’t mean you are succeeding. It takes concentration on the details to achieve greater success. If you implement focus into your skating, you will not only accomplish more in one skating session, but you also are bettering yourself for the future.