I write this as I return from the first Open Competition of the year at Oxford. It was interesting to watch the different approaches people had to this early opportunity to get back into qualification mode – some trying out new programmes and others stepping out with their regular routine.

Now, I don’t advocate going out to win.  It’s about striving for your personal best. Always.  If you are just thinking about winning, then your focus is divided and you are allowing your gremlins headspace as they start to pull up the files in your head marked “how much better my competitors are”.  If you are 100% focused on doing your personal best, then you will be striving at each competition to get better and better.  And if you are consistently improving, then you WILL ultimately be the winner because you are not spending time, energy and mental bandwidth on your competitors.

You might disagree with this. “But” – you might argue – “the Olympic skaters regularly talk about going all out to win it”. Well, to some extent that is true, and yet not true.  At the very highest level there is a handful of skaters who see each other on the competition circuit and have a very clear measure of what their competitors are capable of.  They know what jumps are in their competitors’ programmes and they know what they need to do to push themselves just that little bit further to get more points in their own programmes. When THEY talk about going out to win it – they are in effect still talking about aiming at a personal best.

A very few of you reading this will be finding yourselves regularly at the bottom of the pile and wondering why. This is where you need to take a step back and look, long and hard at what you are doing (or not doing) and what you could do differently to get a better result. It was reportedly Einstein who said that the definition of madness was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

There’s nothing which can be quite so miserable as consistently coming last. If nothing is changing, something needs to be different. Remember the old saying “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”? So if YOU are finding yourself in the same last place, over and over again, you’ll need to do something differently. Watch the more successful skaters and learn from what they are doing. Learn to understand your pdf and think about what needs work. Talk to your coach and ask what you can do next time for a better result. Start with changing one thing and see what happens…