February 16, 2013

10 Things I Wish I'd Known As A Competitive Skater

You know how sometimes you think back on a situation and just think "ohh... with hindsight!"? Having a mature perspective on situations you have been through after the fact can be a frustrating feeling, so I thought that I'd put my hindsight to work for you guys today!

Read on for 10 things I wish I could've told myself as a competitive skater!

Sometimes it can be so hard to realise that things that consume our everyday lives are not as important as we think they are, and that in some cases, it can even be quite easy to let go of those factors which are having a negative effect on our careers and lifestyle. So here are the 10 things I wish I'd known when I was younger, and hopefully you can use some or all of them to make your skating life better!

1: Messing Up Helps You Grow  ♥
Yeah I know, cliché huh? But in the context of skating, perhaps even more so than in everyday life, it's true. And learning to know how to analyse situations (good and bad) will make you a better skater. So when things didn't go to plan, ask yourself what the 3 things you are proud of are? Use those positive points to pick yourself up from disappointment, and keep on keepin' on.

2: Kids & Adults Can Be Jealous 
You wouldn't believe the amount of times I was told by competitors or their family members that my dress was ugly, or that I was too tall to jump, or some other nonsense. With hindsight, I realise now it was what's known as jealousy! And that meant I was clearly doing something right. If only I'd known, I might not have taken such comments to heart, and have let them affect me.

3: Learn To Say No  ♥
No to competitions you don't want to do/don't feel ready for. No to chatting with lazier skaters when all you want to do is practice. No to music you don't feel passionate/excited about. Saying "no" purifies your life, sifting the debris from your path. You will live a more focused life, and get more done in a smaller amount of time. As a person as well as a skater, learning to say "no" has helped me hugely in finding happiness.

4: Don't Force Yourself Everyday 
Pick your battles. If today you don't feel like practising your lutz (despite it needing work!) but would rather concentrate on your salchow and spins, do that. As with many things in life, we are successful when we apply ourselves to things we are happy doing, and feel passionate about. This is not to say that you can only ever practice things that you want to. Some day, you're just gonna need to tackle that lutz (or whatever is causing you difficulty and that you would rather avoid). And there will be days when you feel strong enough to do so. But if you don't have any major events coming up, let your training schedule be flexible. You'll live a happier life, having tackled things you are more likely to feel positive about in any given day.

5: Listen to Music Before Events 
It took me the best part of 12 years to find out that putting on headphones for that pre-comp stretch off-ice warm-up was a great way to isolate yourself from the hectic and stressful competition environment, while attuning your mind and spirit to the task at hand. Your music can be your program (especially good for doing floor run-throughs) or anything that either soothes you, or gets you pumped up, depending on your desired effect.

6: Taking Time Off Is Necessary, You Needn't Feel Guilty 
You ever have a coach or rink peers who made you feel guilty about taking those days off when you were sick or injured? I don't think there's a skater out there who hasn't been subjected to some sort of social pressure of this kind. But guess what? It doesn't matter. The only thing a skater needs to take care of is his or her body. Good health is the foundation for a good life, and thus, a good sporting career. If you are ailing, do not force yourself in to the rink.

7: It's OK To Take A Few Days After A Comp or Test 
In the same vein as point 6, it's OK so just chill out after a major skating event. You need time to process what you've been through, and to understand what the result means for the next step in your career. This applies to every situation, whether you just passed a novice test, or placed 4th in senior nationals. It's normal to feel lost, or elated, or sad, or to ask yourself "now what?". Meet up with your coach to discuss the next steps in your career, and don't feel pressurised to return to the ice without feeling re-charged and re-focused on a new goal.

8: Maturation Isn't Uniform 
I wish I'd known when I was a kid that just because another skater was jumping more difficult jumps than me despite our similar ages, it didn't mean that I never would. It meant that I would at a different time to her. Every single human being is different, and physical and mental development can occur at different ages. It's OK so be at a different skating stage than your peers. Concentrate on yourself, and yourself only. Because truly, the rest doesn't matter.

9: Don't Be Narrow Minded 
It took me years and years to realise that my advanced moves in the field skills, along with my musicality and passion for skating would have made me a decent ice dancer. Persisting with ladies skating was a big mistake for me. Looking back now, I don't know what I was thinking, and ended up getting in to dance too late. So hear this: if you have a natural aptitude for something, don't be too blind to see it. Listen to those around you, and open your eyes, ears, and heart. Something wonderful could happen.

10: Love Yourself 
This is more of a life lesson, but it applies so much to skaters because of the (sometimes hostile) competitive environment in which we spend the majority of our time. Parents, coaches, peers, on-lookers, friends, and family may all (and probably will) criticise you at some point. And that's OK. That is many people's way of expressing their frustration, or anger, or disappointment for you (and sometimes in you, unfortunately). But ultimately, they are allowed their opinion. And you know what? So are you. So know yourself, and love yourself. This is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. You are not defined by what you do on the ice, you are a multi-faceted wonderful, scintillating creation, bubbling with emotion, joy, intellect, artistry, and so many other characteristics the entire internet is too small to house a list of them. Always remember that there will be another day, another competition, but there is no other you!


What would you have told your younger self if you got the chance? Did I miss anything super important off the list? In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading today's post, and will be back next Saturday for another dose of skating advice!

Until next time, have yourselves a wonderful weekend!

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