I was talking to a skating beginner this week and we were talking about those first few times on the ice when you’re skating round and hugging the barrier and you get to that bit where the Zamboni comes on and suddenly the barrier has gone and you have to make it across the corner without holding on!
There were certain moves, she said, where she felt quite ok doing them close to the coach, or holding the coach’s hand, but the moment she didn’t have something or someone to hold on to, she felt scared. It was scary to let go.
When skaters describe this scenario I usually ask them if they’ve ever been able to do the move without holding on. In most cases they have. But the fear is still there and they truly believe they can’t.
Well actually you can!
Can you do these moves off ice without holding on to a barrier or a person? If the answer is yes, then this is a CONTROL issue. It’s about feeling out of control of your feet. They’re on that slidey-glidey stuff and they’re not doing what you want them to do, and that makes you feel out of control. You’re over-cautious and you stiffen up. But do the move on the floor and you simply EXPECT to land it, so you’re more relaxed and confident going into it.
When you’re a little bit further advanced and doing the easy stuff that just comes without thinking, it means you’re in total control. Your brain is happily sending signals to your feet and they’re responding perfectly well.
But what if it sends the wrong signals?
The more you practice something, the more you get to know how it should ‘feel’ when it goes right. Whether it’s a three turn or a quad. When you do it, you get a feeling. And if it feels right – you’ll definitely know it’s right. And once your brain gets to know how it should feel when it’s right, it will be sending all the right signals, you’ll have control over your body and you’ll start to get much more consistent.
You don’t consciously think about how you walk down the road to the shops do you? Yet as a toddler you might have had a few issues around balance and control! But now you’re doing it on autopilot (unless you’re sporting 6 inch stilettos perhaps…). That’s the process behind getting back the control in your jumps and elements.
Work out what’s outside of your control
Notice how you feel when you’re out of control. Your body is filled with those toxic stress chemicals, your tummy and maybe your head is full of butterflies, the mood swings, being snappy, having those out of body moments where you know you’re being mean but just can’t help yourself. That first step to having control is recognising when you don’t have it. How it feels, what you notice.
And remember, above all, that golden rule: “we can’t control what others say or do, but we can control our response to it.”
Now ask yourself, “What do I need to know, or know how to do, or better understand, in order to be in control of the situation?” Give that little filing clerk in your brain a moment to come up with the answer. The gremlin will cut in with “you need to know how to do this jump, Dummy!” so ignore him. Let the filing clerk bring up the real evidence of what’s needed.
Feel in control
Maybe you need to break the whole move down into much smaller parts. How should your arms, head, feet, knees feel? Maybe it’s more of an emotional feeling you need – be more relaxed, calm, uplifted, powerful, assertive, determined…
Then remind yourself of a time in the past when you had that feeling, or combination of feelings. A time when you did something really successfully as a result. Really immerse yourself in that memory and bring back the feeling that you need for this move.
Show you’re in control
Whether you’re out of control or in control – it shows and others will pick up on it. If you’re out of control, then people will notice all the more. That shouty, tantrum-throwing, ice kicking diva of a gremlin takes charge if we’re not careful and gets to show him or herself to the entire audience of mums and other skaters at practice.
I know. It’s not you. It’s the gremlin. But when you’re in control, the gremlin doesn’t get a look in – and you get to be that role model to the others. Yes – no matter what stage your skating is at, you’ll be a role model to someone. And deep down, we’d all much rather be admired for being nice and thoughtful and hardworking and achieving our goals, than for being a diva with a scary range of hissy-fits.
With patience we can understand that success comes from hard work and practice and that if it was that easy it wouldn’t be so worth it.
So take back that control – because you’re worth it!