December 29, 2012

The 3 New Years Resolutions I Wish I Had Made When Skating, & How They Can Better Your Career

Well, with 2013 just around the corner, and the excesses of the holiday season in full swing (Christmas cake with every cup of tea? 5-course dinners with the family? The list goes on!) one's mind eventually turns to think of all the things we should be doing to better ourselves, and our lives. Yes, it's soon "New Years Resolution" time!

Mine don't seem to change year on year, because it would appear I am terrifyingly bad at fulfilling them. What can a girl do but set out to do better next year? Fresh start, and all that jazz. All this thinking of self betterment and discipline got me thinking about the resolutions a skater can make, and apply to his or her career in the coming year. And all those things I should have done when I was competing to give myself a hand during my career.

So what are 3 great resolutions every skater should make this January 1st? Read on my lovelies!

  Listen To Your Body 
It's really as simple as that. Oh and then of course you have to make decisions based on what it has told you. Let me elaborate.

Throughout skating careers, athletes the world over stretch themselves to the limits of physical and mental capacity. And the majority of skaters push through these stressful times, thinking the harder they work, the more they'll win. This isn't always the case.

I've been unfortunate in that I've been injured many times throughout my skating life, a few of which were indeed of the more serious nature (the last being a permanent spinal injury which saw me hang up my boots). I've also been heavily asthmatic, and for many years was not diagnosed as such, and thus, the condition not controlled with medication. This lead to being frequently ill with chest infections, and many a morning when getting into the rink felt like moving mountains. Often times, I just couldn't do it, and thankfully my mum was there to call up coach and take care of me.

However, as I got older and more independent, I'd stretch myself more. When I was feeling ill I would succumb to the peer and social pressures of missing practices. I'd go in, even if I had fever, productive coughs, aching muscles, you name it. 

Don't do it. Listen to what your body is telling you. Skating while feeling awful can lead not only to a bad session, low self-esteem, and a negative perception of your own capacities on the ice, but also more serious illness or injury. If your mind isn't 100% on the task at hand, there's always a risk that something can go wrong, and you can ultimately end up worse off in the long run.

The bottom line is listen to your body, and make informed decisions about your career based on them. Missing 2 days of practice to get over a bad cold won't likely cost you a chance at a medal in that important competition, but going in to the rink with a low attention span, and causing yourself another injury could.

Set Goals With Your Coach & Reach For Them  ♥
When I was a young skater, my coach would vaguely set goals for me, that I would just never reach in time. In my case, it was passing the test I needed to get to my age group / level of nationals, and year after year I just missed it by one test. A lot of factors played in this, but setting goals and making them clear to everyone involved in the skater's career is critical in achieving the goals that are so dear to the skater.

Don't accept excuses, either from your skater or his/her coach. Obviously the goals that are set need to be realistic, but once they are, go after them like there's no tomorrow. This is your (or your child's) life, and never quite achieving goals that have been dreamed of for an entire year is quite frankly soul-destroying, especially for a younger skater.

If the goal isn't met, then sit down and analyse why. It's not about distributing the blame, it's about understanding where in the process something went wrong. I'm not saying go crazy and strict and pressure your child into meeting every goal that is set. I'm saying put the odds in your favour: plan, organise, support, and understand. Huge difference.

Know Thyself 
A huge part of growing up is learning to know oneself, and it's no different in skating. Know your skating. The more you accept the skater you are, the more you can use each facet of the wonderful, complex, multi-talented person that you are to your advantage!

It took me a while, but the faster you get to grips with your own style and taste, the quicker you'll skate performances that make the crowd roar and your heart swell with pride. Of course this process of getting to know oneself can take an entire lifetime, and an entire career. It's a hard process too: it involves accepting things about your skating that you may not be willing to.

The faster you accept that spirals really aren't your thing, but your footwork is dazzling, the faster you can set about upping your steps to level 4's, and creating a program (this includes choosing the music!) that will showcase your strengths, and play down your weaknesses.

Knowing your skating is a key step to success, both in competition and in your own heart. Accept who you are in this respect, and your skating will become not only more dazzling, but also more enjoyable.

Well I hope these 3 resolutions will help you get more out of your skating in the coming year. As the new year rolls in, I wish you my lovely reader all the very best for 2013. May your skating be full of joy and success, your heart be full of patience and perseverance, but most importantly of all, may you be in good health.

Until next time, ring in the new year in style!
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