Currently, the two record holders for the highest marks in figure skating are Yuna Kim and Yuzuru Hanyu.
Is it coincidence that they are both from the far east? I don’t think so. I spent nearly 7 years living in South Korea and I know that in both Korea and Japan there is a very different mentality around striving for achievement and a very strong work ethic indeed.
There will be a tendency to Do-Analyse-Redo-Reanalyse-Redo and so on in a bid to tidy up any ‘straggly’ pieces of their programme.
Those aspiring to excellence will work on the individual fragments of each move until it works smoothly with that move, and the move fits seamlessly into each element, which builds a sturdy foundation for a strong programme. Nothing they do will ever be done halfheartedly. It will be all – or nothing. And there will be very strong parental support behind the scenes.
So what lesson can be taken from this?
To truly excel at skating, or at anything, you need to notice what’s not working, analyse your performance and break it down into exactly what needs to be changed to make it work again. Then work tirelessly on making those changes. A mechanic would approach fixing a car in much the same way.Or like a complicated maths equation – where the correct answer is a really well skated programme – you need to identify where the mistakes are and work out how to correct them to get the equation (your programme) right.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) originated from the desire of its founders (Bandler & Grinder) to observe ‘excellence’, break it down into components and then use that framework for teaching that same excellence.
In other words, Bandler and Grinder had wondered why it is that some people are just so brilliant at what they do, yet others make a mediocre job of it. They identified a number of experts who excelled in their field and watched and questioned them in great detail about how they did what they did and what their thought processes were.
Eventually, by looking at all the minute detail and putting it back together, they were able to create a method of teaching that excellence to someone else who could then recreate those excellent results. In short, with NLP we can look at what makes champions excel and by modelling the same behaviour in others, create new champions.
You cannot excel without the right mindset. Ask yourself why you/your child skates. For fun? Fitness? Friendship? Because if it is more than this, if the skater truly has their sights set on the highest competitive ranks and it’s a genuinely realistic prospect, they’ll need to work as much on their mindset as they are working on their on-ice performance.
So when I work with skaters who want to really improve their abilities, one of the first things I get them to do is identify a role model. To work out what it is that makes their role model a champion – and then through a little introspection, figure out which of those qualities they themselves already have, and which ones they would like to acquire. Then we set about acquiring them. Any other challenges can be broken down into simple component parts, examined, worked on, and put back together seamlessly into a great performance.
Of course there’s a little enchantment involved when they get back on the ice and the old magic returns which they haven’t been feeling for so long. But it’s not rocket science. It’s simply Ice Cool Confidence through NLP.