As I write this, many of you are heading to Slovenia to compete at the Swan Challenge. There are so few opportunities for adult skaters to compete – not only because of the lack of available competitions but because you are juggling so much to keep your passion going – work, home, family and financial commitments all competing for the attention you are giving to the sport you love (but sometimes seems like it doesn’t love you back!). And it is so easy to put your goals and dreams at the bottom of the priority list.
I wish you all a fabulous skate – wonderful experiences and ever deepening friendships within the lovely, supportive community that is the adult skating world. But most of all I wish you to be kind to yourself.
As adults you can be just as plagued with self-doubt as young people are. Sometimes more so. Bodies that are creaky and disobedient, fears of the greater consequences of a fall, unvoiced thoughts about rivals and other competitors which nibble away at your confidence. Taken to extremes this results in catastrophising. Listing an encyclopaedic quantity of reasons why you will skate badly: stress, overwork, health, injuries, problems with equipment (skates/blades), and keeping these in your head (or worse, voicing them out loud) to ensure you have a ‘reason’ on which to hang a possible bad skate.
Focusing on all of these negatives is far more likely to render it a self-fulfilling prophecy. And you are also having a negative impact on the skaters around you who will start to doubt themselves (no matter how much of a novice you think you are, you are a role model to somebody). It’s time to ditch the ‘perfectionist gremlin’ and accept being ‘good enough’. You are enough. You work hard and strive to do your best. And the best you can do is what you should be aiming for and proud of. Baby steps to new personal bests if you are in the best condition you can be. And if you’re not in the condition you would like to be, gratitude for simply having the opportunity not only to continue with the sport you love in spite of the challenges you face daily, but to be able to gently push your boundaries in competitive conditions.
Before you skate, set a realistic and achievable goal for yourself. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Remind yourself of what you CAN do, not what you can’t – yet. And after you’ve skated, no matter how it went, look for three things that went well. Later on identify three more things which you would do differently next time, and use those to work towards your next goal.
Have an amazing time all of you and remember to enjoy the whole experience – including the skating bit!
PS: if you really want to work on that competition mindset get my Competition Masterclass for Adult Skaters