Figure Skating

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Mental Barriers
to Training & Competing


Psychological Barriers
        Sometimes we do not realize we are putting up psychological barriers that interfere with our ability to perform at our fullest potential in the classroom or on the athlete field. It is much easier to recognize the problem in others.

        We all have external and internal personal psychosocial barriers that stem from our beliefs, attitudes, values, hang-ups and inhibitions as individuals. These barriers can be divided into five categories:
  • Denial, Guilt - avoidance reactions in response to an environmental stimulus.

  • Misperceptions - inability to comprehend our role in the social strata. These misperceptions can be held on personal cultural, ethical, and moral levels.

  • Feelings of adequate ability, knowledge, or experience -   many people don't become involved in discussing issues because they believe they will just look foolish.

  • Lack of empathy for immediate and long term concerns - inability to respond/participate in social and environmental issues.

  • Confusion, fear, and  disempowerment - associated with personal actions related to interacting with the external environment.

      Negativity, fears and self-esteem issues prevent most individuals from trying new ideas or concepts that offer the potential to achieve personal fulfillment.  It is possible to change how you approach problems requiring critial thinking to solve/mitigate. The following examples can serve as a road map for success:

  • Hypnosis – Hypnosis can unlock your mind so it can efectively dismantel the barriers that prevent taking to take positive steps. You are good enough, attractive enough and smart enough to do just about anything. You know this on one level, but your subconscious might not have the message straight. Hypnosis can make sure your subconscious gets with the program.
  • Meditation – This is an excellent process for helping you knock down psychological barriers that might stand in the way of success. Through meditation you can learn to let go of negative issues that bog down your mind and prevent you from achieving your goals. During meditation, you can also visualize yourself doing or achieving whatever it is you desire. The more you “see” yourself succeeding in your mind’s eye, the more likely it is you can turn the thoughts into reality.
  • Self-affirmations – This is sort of a twist on meditation. Positive self-affirmations can help you “convince” yourself that something is within reach. This is also a very effective way for replacing negative thoughts with motivational messages. The more you work at viewing yourself in a positive light, the more likely it is others will, too. The key is learning to believe in yourself first. Self-affirmations can help immensely on this front.
  • Therapy – Sometimes the psychological barriers are too great to handle on your own. Seeking the help of a professional hypnotist or a psychologist can help you to understand the sources of the problems so they can be overcome.

     All too often, people allow themselves to fall prey to psychological barriers and limitations. They believe they aren’t good enough to do something or that they aren’t worthy of achieving success and happiness. Breaking down those obstacles is possible so you can achieve your dreams if you follow a path that seeks to replace negativity with positive thoughts.

The Desire to Win can classified as three types of goals:
  • The Fantasy Dream - involves goals with a distant designation so far off in the future. that the concept of time is very hard to conceive. In turn this makes it difficult to understand the need to take specific actions in the present. The time line can be six month, six years, or more than a decade in the future.
  • Intermediate Goals - are markers of where you want to be at a specific time. For example, if your dream goal is to reduce your 400m PB by one second over 10 months, an intermediate goal could be a half second improvement after five months
  • Short-term or Daily Goals are comprehendable because the duration of time is short and underatandable even for school age children. Such goals are attainable because they provide an immediate focus for scheduling daily training for every session.
       The sport of figure skating has a mental and emotional factor that can not be ignored as a skater attempts to acquire a package of skills to be successful in taking tests and winning competitions. Many coaches go so far as to state that the decisive factor is >89% mental in every competitive performance when comparing equally well trained athletes whose skills are technically equal. More athletes defeat themselves than are defeated by their opponents.

       It is very helpful for skaters to learn to prepare mentally to cope with the stress of testing and competiting.  They longer negative thoughts occur, the more difficult it is to correct them.
The mental Qualities of Athletes
    
There obviously is an intelligence component associated with skill and performances of all athletes; however, the qualities we are concerned with include the following areas:
  • Essentials of an effective mental training program
  • Developing mental training skills
  • Gauging your own mental aptitude
  • Steps to achieve positive thinking
  • Preparation for Mental Training of mind and body
  • Unleashing the mind's power potential
  • Optimizing personal performance
  • Participation in training programs than minimize overtraining related injuries
  • Troubleshooting for obstacles that block/inhibit performance
  • Mental training for to solve specific problems
  • Mental training for Life Skills
  • Mental toughness
  • Mental resilience
Mental Toughness
       Mental Toughness is a state of mind in athletics that is associated with an athlete being able to conquer their fear of losing. Losing is only losing if you fail to get up and try again.

       Athletes who display, alertness, promptness, courage, confidence, resourcefulness, patience, push, enterprise, expert knowledge, insight, shrewdness, tact, self-control, excellent decision making skills are displaying qualities that are also associated with having a winning attitude.

       Because of the added stress of passing college level classes, athletes should be selected based on documentation that they meet or exceed the qualifications that they are physically and mentally qualified to participate in the expected athletic training academic and clinical requirements.

       All athletes at a university level must pass a complete a physical conducted by the Team Physician.  Athletes are expected to demonstrate their ability to analyze, think critically, synthesize, and integrate information both from their previous athletic training and apply their skills and knowledge to their current athletic training program. If the student has questions about their abilities to handle the stress of acadameic and sports training, they should discuss their concerns with the appropriate medical personnel about becoming overloaded with their course load and/or an overload of training responsibilities.

       Succssful athletes rank high in the following abilities:
  1. Maintain a positive attitude.
  2. Maintain a high level of self-motivation.
  3. Set high, realistic goals.
  4. Effectively communication skills.
  5. Utilize positive self-talk.
  6. Utilize positive mental imagery.
  7. Effectively Manage expected and unexpected anxiety.
  8. Effectively Manage their emotions.
  9. Maintain their focus and concentration.
       The effectiveness of these abilities can be better understood as they occur during one of three phases of the Performanc Pyramind - long-term development, immediate preparation for performance, and during actual performances.

Performance Pyramind
  
   

Level I - These mental skills constitute a broad base for attaining long-term goals, learning, and sustaining daily practice. They are needed on a day-by-day basis for long periods of time, often months and years.

Level II - These skills are used immediately before performance to prepare for performance. They maybe used just before competition begins, or immediately before a specific performance action, such as a golf shot or a free throw in basketball.

Level III - These skills are used during actual performance behavior.


Recommended Reading:

PDF Mental Qualities and Employed Mental Techniques of Athletes  program development and evaluation in the case of youth elite team sport athletes. 

The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Athletes You don't have to be a professional athlete or an Olympic champion to be a successful ... There are nine, specific mental skills that contribute to success in sports. ... When appropriate, communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs.  

References:
    
   
   
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

       
Developing Training Plans for Athletes
Evaluation of Training
Age Training Guidelines
Components of Training Plan
Stages of Acquiring New Skills
Strategies for Training
Strategies for Competing
Fitness Training & Sports
Advanced Training
List Daily Training Tasks
Construction of a Training Plan
Developing An Annual Training Plan
Principles of Global Training
Competitive Training
Starting to Seriously Train
Skating Environment
Peaking Performance
Benefits of Cross Training
Principle of Varying Training
Varying Training Improves Results
Approaches to Training
Approaches to Jump Training
Transference of Knowledge & Skills
Aerobic Activities
Anaerobic Activities
Exercises to Develop Coordination
Off-Ice Activities For Skaters
Fitness and Conditioning
Off-Season Conditioning Activities
Tips for Long Distance Traveling
Mental Barriers to Training & Competing
Mental Considerations for Athletic Training
Mental Training Considerations
Mental Strategies for Training
Endurance Training Activities
Flexibility Training Activities
Bodyweight Exercise Training
Weight Training Activities
Brian Grasso Articles
Evaluation Assessment
  

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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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