Skating Fridays

Staying in the Moment

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard others tell me to learn how to “stay in the moment” while skating. That advice went in one ear and out the other, I hate to say, but honestly – I just didn’t really know what it meant. I mean, it makes sense, theoretically. But what, really, does it mean, and how does one do it?

I enlisted the help of a seasoned professional to help me understand what this actually meant in practice and how one could accomplish it. Here is what I learned.

Our mind can be in 3 different stages: past, present and future. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Sometimes we dwell on things that have happened (past), and sometimes we try to visualize or hope for things that haven’t happened yet (future). But what about being in the present?

I have learned that when I skate, or am preparing to skate, my mind tends to go to the past. “I failed on this element at <competition/event>.” Or, it fast-forwards to the future… “I want to earn X points and place # at this event.

Unfortunately, this type of thinking is very, very bad for figure skaters. Our mind gets stuck in the past or future and does not know what to do in the present. We get too fixated on what has already happened or what we hope to happen that we aren’t skating in the moment. So what does skating in the moment actually mean?

In a perfect world, we should execute like robots. Just do the elements as they come up in the program. Do not think about potential outcomes. Like Nike – Just Do It. Your mind should be clear, and you should focus on the element at hand. When you are in the moment, you are being robotic and just doing.

There are different methods on how to actually be in the moment, and I am playing around with various ways to get myself there. There are times when I think I’m in the moment, but then my mind “blips” and either goes to the past or to the future. Then I can’t execute my element.

This has been a really long journey to shift my mindset and to not focus on anything but the element at hand. What’s been really eye-opening is that skaters tend to focus so much on the physical aspect on the sport that we often neglect to learn how to train our minds as well.

I am hoping that this new mental training will get me to a better spot once the competition season actually starts. I have a local competition coming up where I am hoping to test this new methodology and see how it serves me. I have a few more months until qualifying competitions so hopefully I can fine-tune some things before then.

Have you ever focused on mental training? How do you stay in the moment?

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