Lots of skaters come to me because they are stuck. Naturally the thing they most want is to be ‘unstuck’ so that they can move on with their skating and progress and move up. And of course their parents would like this to happen as quickly as possible.
The thing is, under pressure, we feel the need for short term fixes. That competition is coming up next week – can you help me deal with my nerves? What can I do to get a really good result? Well, I can certainly give you some tips and advice and maybe even run you through an effective NLP* exercise, but unless you address the root of the problem and your attitude to that problem, it will only ever be a quick fix. A temporary solution.
It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 or 22. Or 59 even! The skaters who get the most success from working with me are those who are prepared to get back to basics. To question the very reason why they skate and what skating does for them. Where they want to go with it and how far. They listen. I listen. And they listen again, this time inwardly – to their own self-talk (I tend to refer to the negative self-talk as the gremlins). And they aren’t afraid to share it.
With my help, they are prepared to break their thinking down, deconstruct the problem, see it from other angles… And then they put it back together bit by bit to create something strong, and lasting which will not only help them in the short term, but also enable them to forge their own ‘virtual’ tools to meet every possible challenge in the future. They show up to sessions regularly, ready with an open mind, a plan for what they want to get out of each session and unbridled enthusiasm to get out and put into practice a new approach, a different angle, to get better results.
The hardest skaters to work with are those who shrug in response to my questions and reply with an “I don’t know…”. They might rush through the exercises I give them like it’s ‘homework’ instead of thinking about it as ‘medicine’ for their ailing skating – or a stepping stone which needs to be firmly in place to carry them to the next step on route to a goal. These skaters tend to leave the decision making to others – their coaches, their parents… and as a result, they tend not to take responsibility for their own results.
Don’t get me wrong – not everybody can analyse their performance objectively – and they will get views and advice from their coach, other coaches, their parents, grandparents, their friends and all sorts. Views which will be very different. Views which may be emotionally charged and create even more self-doubt. And views which may be too kind or too blunt. The key is to take these views with a pinch of salt and sort out the ones which are genuinely helpful on your journey towards your goal. And take responsibility for the ‘problem’.
Be honest with yourself – neither overly self-critical nor too self-excusing. Look at what is working and look at how you fixed a problem in the past. What do you need to do to make this work?
So next time you are beating yourself up because “that jump STILL isn’t working. It’s not fair! Everyone else can do it! Life sucks!” Don’t expect a quick fix. Don’t just think about the problem – think about how you are thinking about the problem. We are what we are, because of how we think.
*Neuro Linguistic Programming – it’s what I do!