There are many important elements involved in becoming a successful figure skater. Training hard with an accomplished coach is one of them, along with an early introduction to the sport and choosing the right training rink. There are several other obvious elements outlined elsewhere on this blog, but here we’re going to examine how to sharpen your competitive edge for when you’re out on the ice.
As with any creative sport, like synchronised swimming or artistic gymnastics, success depends on individual expression as well as an excellent performance carried out within the sporting guidelines. So, honing your own competitive streak can go a long way towards bringing you success, alongside mastering the technicalities of your craft. Sometimes it’s necessary to try some seemingly leftfield techniques in order to give you the lead over your rivals. The most important thing is finding out what’s right for you, and that involves experimenting with different approaches until something clicks.
Eat Well, Be Well
Diet and nutrition play a major role in the world of sports, and that is no less true for figure skating. However, you might be surprised by some of the foods that Olympic athletes swear by in order to keep them feeling strong and alert throughout training sessions and competitions. World champion Ashley Wagner admits to eating frozen waffles with a sweet treat of peanut butter and honey first thing in the morning – hardly the ultra-healthy superfood breakfast you’d expect from a skater of her calibre. However, you’ll find that this is a sensible meal to give you a burst of energy early on in the day, comprised of carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein and unprocessed sugar. It may take you some time and experimentation to find the meals and snacks that work for you, but the important thing is to approach diet and nutrition with an open mind. Consult a professional, but also think about what works for you personally. Some of us just aren’t breakfast people, and that attitude can still be incorporated into a daily meal plan. The bottom line is that you want to be functioning at your highest level, and eating whichever balanced diet gets you there.
Start Playing Mind Games
No, we don’t mean those sorts of mind games, running rings around your fellow competitors. Rather, we recommend indulging in some brain training exercises and one of the most enjoyable ways to do this is by playing games. Whether your favoured gaming style is console, PC, mobile or old fashioned analogue, there is something available for everyone these days. First off, invest in a chess board or pack of playing cards because these can be transported and played anywhere, including where there’s only a shoddy internet connection. Playing chess and various different card games has been proven to have a positive effect on your decision making skills, memory retention and ability to regulate your emotions in highly charged situations. If you’re on the move and have access to a smartphone or tablet, then there are plenty of reputable sites where you can now access these games online too. Old favourites such as blackjack, poker and roulette have well established online fanbases, along with chess, go and Scrabble. The key is to start up a regular habit and then watch how your mind sharpens into a well-oiled machine, able to approach your sport from ever more innovative directions. This could just give you the advantage over your rivals.
This may seem counterintuitive but learning how to relax properly will stand you in good stead when it comes to decreasing recovery time and increasing your ability out on the ice. Whatever line of work you’re in, burn out is often encouraged in today’s society because we put a premium on working hard and going above and beyond to achieve the best results. However, when your greatest tool is your own mind and body, then you need to learn how to look after yourself as well as how to push your boundaries. Athletes are often at the cutting edge of new health and fitness technology, trying out everything from ice baths, to hydrotherapy, to massage, to sleep analysis. Don’t be afraid to try something new – it could just be the thing that tips you over into greatness. Remember to listen to your body and give it a rest when needed, rather than pushing yourself into exhaustion. Think about your stretching and cool down routines, along with muscle rolling, regular massage and, if needed, medication. Make sure you always consult a professional as you experiment with what returns the best results and find your own personalised routine. When everyone around you is pushing harder and sustaining injuries in the process, be the revolutionary who puts their health and wellbeing first. It will certainly pay off in the long run.