Dear Coach,

Here’s the thing. I’m your skater and I’m a nervous wreck. The double Salchow I could do in my sleep until last week has totally disappeared and I’m seriously doubting whether I can even land a single axel, which I’ve been landing since – well forever! Mum’s been driving me mad in the car on the way telling me to smile and not to forget this or that, and you – MY COACH – are just about to put me on the ice.  What’s the last thing you are going to say to me just before I step out there?

Because if it starts with “Don’t…” then you might as well give up on me now. Here’s what NOT to say before I skate:

  • Don’t worry about your (insert name of jump here)
  • Don’t be nervous!
  • Don’t forget your programme!
  • Don’t rush your steps!

Why?  Because the mind doesn’t process the “Don’ts”. Just try not thinking of a pink elephant. Yeah – Don’t think of a pink elephant!  See? So if you say to me “Don’t be nervous” I’ll be focusing on “nervous” the whole time I skate!  Please think of something more positive to say instead.

And Mum – here’s what not to say when it’s all over:

  • “It doesn’t matter, you did your best…” It DOES matter to me!
  • “Well you never skate well at (insert name of rink)” Great! Fix that idea in my head so that I always do badly here in the future too!
  • “So-and-so fell on her double Lutz too…” Like I care! – My pride is hurt here…
  • “I think you came (insert place and vague reference to the number of skaters)” – let me see it on the notice board for myself!
  • “Well at least you beat Ermintrude from (insert name of rink)” I came second from last Mum!

Just give me a quiet hug, let me calm down if it didn’t go well, and I’ll come and tell you all about it and how I feel when I’m ready to.

Lots of love,

Your very-nervous-skater xxx