Skating Fridays

PCFO (Pre-Competition Freak Out)

freaking out

Last week, I had a lesson with my coach, who asked about the jumps I had in my freestyle program. We went through each of them, one by one. I exclaimed to him that my axel had disappeared, and that I was having a mental block. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that this is an element that I have struggled with in competition (but I can land almost 100% of the time in practice, without the context of a program).

I’ve tried various techniques to calm myself down before the element, but for whatever reason, my body tenses up and I find myself muscling myself into the jump rather than letting it happen on its own.

My coach took a look at the jump from the intro steps and saw that my technique had completely disappeared. Rather than jumping up, I was jumping around myself. My free leg got whippy and then I wasn’t able to maintain an axis. My setup was also wonky, as I wasn’t gliding on a proper edge beforehand. He was surprised to see how much I had sabotaged myself.

His response: “You just have PCFO. It’s Pre-Competition Freak Out. It’s completely normal and happens to a lot of skaters.”

So there you have it. There is an unofficial term for those of us who get the butterflies before a competition.

I’ll keep you posted on how my competition went, but just know that my jumps have disappeared the week leading up to it!


  1. Melissa
    October 29, 2021 / 6:11 pm

    PCFO. I get this before every competition. Every single one. But at least I know to expect it now! Good luck at your competition! Have fun.

    • evabakes
      October 30, 2021 / 7:00 am

      Thanks, Melissa!

  2. October 29, 2021 / 6:44 pm

    Good thing there’s a name for it! But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get over, for sure! Happens to the best, too.

    • evabakes
      October 30, 2021 / 7:01 am

      I don’t feel like I am dealing out but my body sure acts like it! It’s so frustrating.

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