Skaters aren’t the only ones to get nervous at competitions. Mums and Dads are prime candidates for fluttery hearts and nervy tummies when their precious offspring are performing and under pressure. Of course it’s only natural that parents should be anxious that their children have the opportunity to showcase their very best. And because we parents know our children so well, we anticipate that they will be nervous or maybe mess up in the middle of their programme. And we worry about mopping up the tears afterwards or dealing with the consequences of a Disaster with a capital D.

We want to protect them – that’s what parents are for. It’s our job. We want to save them from the very real possibility that it might all go HORRIBLY WRONG. We want to spare them the heartache…

And exactly what message are we sending our children?

Would you say to your child “You’re not good enough. I think you’ll make a mistake and fail.
I believe it’s all going to go wrong (again). I don’t trust that you’ll be able to do a good job at this”? Because that’s exactly what your body language (and most probably the words you are using too) is saying to them: “I don’t think you can do this”.

And when we get nervous, indirectly we are saying “I’m worried that this won’t go well. And it’s really important that it does, so I’m anxious.”

Is that what you want to convey? Even unintentionally? Remember that you’re the key role models in your skater’s life – so if you can’t control your own nerves then how do you expect them to?   At the very least, you need to distance yourself – hand your skater over to the coach with a smile and then go and be nervous when you’re on your own!

Act ‘as if’ you are confident and your skater will see that you believe in them.

In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), one of the ways we get people to overcome their challenges is to reframe things – look at them from a different angle. And in this case we can use the “Act As If” reframe. Acting as if you are confident helps your skater to believe that you believe in them. And it has the added bonus of helping your body (the nervy tummy and the fluttery heart) to believe it as well.

Your body can easily be tricked by the mind. If you don’t believe me, just imagine running your nails down an old fashioned blackboard. Eeuurrgh! How did THAT feel? See? And the blackboard wasn’t even there, but your mind told your body to imagine it.  In exactly the same way, you can imagine yourself calm and confident, and your skater can begin to feel that you trust them to go out and do a great job on the ice.

Of course exactly the same thing works for your skater too, so why not explain to them how they can ‘Act As If’ they are confident and notice what happens?