Are you hooked by the latest Pokémon Go craze? I haven’t quite been bitten by the bug yet, as I just know it will suck me in and hoover up all my time if I do (see those boundaries being put firmly in place?) but I can certainly understand the attraction.

While any of you athletes may be oblivious to the fact that there actually are people on this planet who DON’T get up at the crack of dawn and work their socks off at the sport they love, Pokémon Go has the great advantage of encouraging those reluctant moles out of their holes to get outdoors and active.

And the Figure Skating Excuses meme above might be funny for some – but I bet it resonates with a lot of parents and coaches out there who watch their skater circle around and round and round and around the ice without actually taking off for the jump they are meant to be practising.

What excuses have you made to your coach when this happens? I’ll bet you’ve said some of these:

“Ellie was in my way!”

“I couldn’t find the space to jump”

“I saw Megan move out of the corner of my eye, just as I got there and I thought she was going to jump in the same place”

“Chloe was putting me off”

“I can’t do it when you’re watching!”

“I don’t feel well…”

“There are too many little ones/adult skaters on the ice”

“I can’t do it while that dance couple is practising”

(or even “There’s a Pokémon in the way”!)

Well I’ve got some news for you. They’re excuses.  And they’re excuses driven by fears. By the doubts that you can really do that jump instead of the belief that you can. Because you’ve done it before. And if you haven’t done that exact jump before, you’ve certainly gone through the whole learning phase before you managed that other one. What you need, more than ever, when this happens is focus.

When you are totally focused:

  • There’s no room left in your head for the self-doubt. The gremlins.
  • You will be thinking only about the outcome you want. The set up. The take off. The landing.
  • You will be visualising yourself doing it so many times before you actually come to do it on the ice that you could practically do it in your sleep.
  • Visualisation helps the muscles to remember what they have to do, while total focus will raise your confidence, because you are focusing on exactly what you have to do in the absolute knowledge that it IS possible.
  • You will know all the measurements in your head. Where you will enter the set-up, where you will take off and exactly where you will land.

There is so much to learn about focus and it really is the magic ingredient whether you’re in training or in competition. And this is where it’s even more important for the coach to use the correct language when giving instructions. Just one “don’t worry about the people in the way, they’ll move” will ensure that the skater’s mind will be filled with concern about those people getting in the way.

So remember coaches – keep it positive. Tell them what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do so your skater will be able to maintain their focus.

If you’d like to learn more about phenomenal focus, why not work with me one-to-one. You’ll find out how to identify and manage Internal and External focus, Wide and Narrow focus and a combination of them all for a much more rewarding training and competition experience.