Every skater, of any age group or level, knows the feeling. You’ve been practising a skill for a “while” (pronounced “eternity”).
You implement feedback? Nothing.
You exercise off-ice? Nothing.
You try new entries/techniques? Nothing.
Cue the frustration and involuntary irritation at yourself and others. You fall or stumble many times, you feel as if you’ll always fall just short of achieving that goal you desire. It feels like you’re chipping away at a brick wall with a feather duster!
I presently criticise myself for struggling with the Flip jump but I tend to forget that there was once a time where two-foot turns were the bane of my existence. For what seemed like the longest time, I felt as though I had a huge grind ahead of me, I was very hard on myself and many times I’d tell myself: “Is this as far as I can go?”.
Due to studying for my Masters and working several jobs, I had nearly 5 months off skating/private lessons. I scolded myself for not progressing although I know it’s unreasonable of me to do so.
When I first started lessons again this month, I was popping the Flip or two-footing the landings despite having the correct entry. I realised that in those months away from skating, I had convinced my brain that I was “unable” to perform that jump. Each time I wouldn’t succeed, I made the mistake of reinforcing my failure to myself. I would enter the jump almost 70% sure that I would fail. I left no consideration for the time off skating or my jobs and studies or my stress levels or my injuries.
Yesterday, I managed to land my Flip five times in my lesson. Did I change the way I do the jump set up or my posture? Not really. Did I somehow gain strength and endurance overnight? Nopety nope. Did I change my attitude? Yes.
We can get stuck because we lack physical strength/flexibility/stamina. But we can also get stuck when our mind doesn’t believe we can succeed, figure skating is a sport that demonstrates this so well. Our mental state and outlook largely affects our physical ability.
It’s very fascinating to see how outlook and confidence can show you a large improvement in a short space of time. It isn’t always about the improvement you capture on camera, or is noticeable for others to see. It’s those moments of triumph that no one can see but you. Those moments when you prove to yourself that you can get up after each fall and failure…
Okay, okay yes, we get it, Imone, but where exactly does progress occur then???
In the patch of ice you just fell on and got up off.
In the stands where you tie those boots tightly and get ready to warm up at an ungodly hour despite feeling upset.
In those moments where you see others succeed and feel discouraged but you still hold your head high and focus on bettering yourself.
That’s where true progress lies.
When you get on that ice by yourself, no one else’s voice is louder or matters more than your own. We’ve already got a lot of things stacked against us, we’ve all got issues to deal with and our own mind shouldn’t be one of them. If those negative thoughts are so strong that they can stop you from getting a skill, imagine how powerful positive self-talk could be in helping you achieve goals?
I’ll end this with the words of the wise Cardi B: “Look myself in the mirror, I say ‘we gon’ win’. Got me down nine times, but I get up ten.”
My YouTube ‘Imone!OnIce’
My Instagram ‘@physiofigureskater’