Did you know that your skating competitors can teach you? In fact, the best way to learn in a competition is from your competitors, as failure is your friend, your competitors are your teachers.
You are right in the competition; it is indeed a big moment, the time when you apply all your learnings and training into action, it is the time when years of hard work will pay off, it is the time of implementation and execution of your plans.
But hold on, it is not the time to put a halt on learning, it never stops. In fact, it is the best time to learn, the best time to watch the competition and pick up new things. The most important aspect of taking part in a competition is that you get to know many things about the sport (and life as well) that makes you a better athlete and a better person.
So, here are a few things that you can learn from your opponents about skating and life!
Competitors Teach To Never Let Failure Defeat You
Perhaps the most important lesson for a skater is to learn to overcome their emotions after losing a competition. Skaters and athletes can let failure affect them mentally, which leaves a scar during their development. This is devastating not only for the skater’s professional life but it also ruins their personal life.
And who would teach you better than the senior and experienced skaters in the competition? You can not win everything, there is only one gold medal. So it is important to learn how to blow away the emotions after a loss and to stay motivated for the next tournament. Skaters know how to be calm and composed when things are not going in their way. The art of keeping yourself cool under pressure and stress-free comes with experience.
Watch when an experienced competitor falls on the ice, they act as if nothing happened. They don’t show any frustration, but simple strength and confidence to get back up.
Our skating friend Athina – Instagram link (a Greek national, future skating professional) also reports similar feelings. Here mum says, that she feels humility for those friends around her who lose when she is top. Yet she is proud and happy at her success. If she lost against her friends, she doesn’t express frustration but is determined to improve next time. Mum goes on to say:
“She wants to try harder and harder so as to succeed the next time. Furthermore, due to the fact that they usually practice in the same rink and at similar hours, she can recognise the level of the other girl, and the efforts that the other girl has made. Athina compares her efforts which she has made and with determination and stubbornness she practices harder and harder to succeed. She does recognize the results of her efforts.
However, there are times that she has lost not due to the better lever of her competitor but because of her anxiety (for instance due to the fact that she missed 3 seconds on her choreo element). Then, she understood that she has to learn how to control her feelings (it is very difficult but she should tackle it.“Athina Nikolina, by Dimitris Vaso (mum)
Some skaters spend time with close ones after a long and hectic competition, some go out for vacations and some isolate themselves to stay away from the criticism. The main goal is to achieve mental peace after failure and keep yourself away from overthinking, so skaters should learn this skill very quickly to make it a happier career.
Always Be Yourself on the ice
When you are in a competition, you get carried away with the things around you. Some skaters can lose concentration due to the competition that they forget their skills, strengths and they try to be someone else. Your competitors teach you to be yourself whilst never mimicking somebody else’s style. You must believe in your training and focus on what is ahead of you.
Figure skating is a different sport altogether, you need to have your own style, something distinguished that makes you stand out as you. Your competitors teach you their ways and styles, so every time you step in on ice rink you produce something incremental and different according to your strengths which will give you a slight edge against each time.
Lulu Alexandra has been there and done it. A Winter World Master Games Skating Champion, gives her account on the subject on the following video.
“I can only say that you have to compete against yourself. You cannot control what other people do, but you can control what you do.Lulu Alexandra 27th September 2020
Setting a goal for yourself and achieving that can be so much more rewarding than winning a medal. For me, I chase a score. If that score becomes the winning score, great! Nobody wants to win because they were the best in a field of mistakes, you want to win because you skate your best”
The Best Competitors Strive To Be Best Every time
Competitive skating can be very tough and rather cruel sometimes. Your opponents may lose you sleep at night and be generally always on your mind, making you feel nervous and often agitated. You can not get away with a mediocre and below the par performances in competitions, so it is imperative that you put your best foot forward so that you can have every chance to be successful. This is again one of the things that you can only learn from your competitors during a competitive tournament. They switch it on each time, to be the best of their abilities, not anyone else’s.
It is never easy to be on your toes every time you perform in competition; you are constantly traveling, away from home for many days, you will not get time to relax during a competition, you might suffer mental and physical fatigue and stress.
In all these scenarios, it becomes grueling and strenuous to maintain the standard and to give a hundred percent. But even if your body is not responding and it is not giving its optimum result, you have to the best of what is available at that moment.
Never Be Unrealistic On Your Approach
This is one of the reasons for reduced points awarded in a competition, often contestants set very high goals for themselves that are unrealistic and fanciful, this places a lot of pressure even before the competition starts.
Professional athletes know their strengths and weaknesses, they know how far they can go in competition and they set the goals accordingly. Of course, you are here to win and you always want to win, but if you have been recently promoted to a senior tournament or you are about to take part in an Olympic event for the first time, it is quite rare that you will win that competition among all those highly experience skaters.
But even then, you are there because you deserve it. Having said that, sometimes when you are in a competition, you are there to just experience the atmosphere and vibes, to feel the pressure, and to get to know your competitors better so that you can be a much-improved skater next time.
Skating Competitors Teach Humility
This is indeed the best thing you can learn from your competitors and successful skaters around the world. If you are constantly doing hard work, success will definitely come your way but it will only be sustainable if you are down to earth and humble with others.
Yes, you achieve a great feat and you should be proud of yourself, but if you go over the moon and brag about it, you only let your success slip from your hands. All successful athletes, across the sports, are humble and graceful whenever they achieve something. They build their reputation by respecting others and never disgrace anyone from their words or action and make everyone around them feel great about the sport and the competition.
Skating Competitors Teach Discipline
Whether it is off-season or the tournament is about to start, one thing that makes your life easier as an athlete is to maintain discipline throughout your career.
Every professional skater has a strict diet routine, tough training sessions, and a very difficult routine. It sometimes makes you feel irritated to follow the same routine every single day and sometimes even gets boring. But one thing that makes every skater stay competitive is the discipline in their lives.
It is not easy at all but discipline is the way to go, success does not come on easy terms. Skaters have to sacrifice so many things they love to successfully compete, and when you achieve the feat, you go on to strive. Read this article on what several Rusian skaters featured have had to go through.
When you meet people in a competition, you get to know that even in their off-seasons they are not disorganised and they follow their routine every single day with the same passion and enthusiasm. When you lose interest in something even for a single day, it becomes very hard to continue and carry on the same intense groove.
Skaters Analyze Performance After Every Competition
Even if you win a tournament with flying colors, you win because you made fewer mistakes compared to others, but you still would have made mistakes. One thing that keeps you moving up the ladder is to analyse your mistakes and try to overcome them.
Victories often are very deceiving and they let think that you are perfect and untouchable. Success hides your errors and makes you believe that you are flawless.
Professional skaters analyse their performances after every tournament and try to improve their skills to maintain their good performances in every competitive event. When you lose any competition, do not get depressed, it’s generally only a few things that cost you the competition, analyse those little things and try to improve them to be better next time. The best competitive skaters use the same strategy to improve their game and enhance their skills, % by %.
Its In The Mind – You Are The Biggest Skating Competitor
Perhaps the biggest learning for an athlete who consistently takes part in the competitive events, is that you are your biggest competitor. You always have to perform better than your previous performance and in that regard, you always compete with yourself in improving your skills and abilities.
You should never consider lowering your performances or even perform the same way as last time in competition. This will slow your development you will never improve as a skater in your professional life. You will find yourself being overtaken.
It doesn’t mean you have no personal goals, but always try to be better than before. That is the only way to grow and improve not only as a skater but as a person overall.
Build Rapport / Mingle With Other Skaters
When you compete in a global event, you meet people with different cultures and backgrounds. This is the best way to learn new things when you are making intercultural friendships. You get to learn new ways of training and different routines and you get to know the different approaches of different people in the same sport.
Although nobody will reveal their exact routine to the opponents, you will get to know the mindset of other skaters and you will get to know about the person that will help you in the tournament.
Be Approachable To Other Skaters
Whenever you approached your seniors, they always responded and guided you in the right way. Now it is your time to guide others, to pass on what you have learned from experiences, and make others avoid mistakes that have been done in the past.
When you are in the tournament, peers will come to you to take advice and they will expect sincere guidance from you. You should not disappoint your counterparts and always respond to them whenever they reach out to you.
I hope this article has provided insight into how your competitors can teach you to be a better skater. Remember it’s you alone you need to care for. Observe and take the best elements from your peers to skate perfect! I wish to say thank you to Lulu Alexandra and Dimitris Vaso for their excellent references.