San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
Mental Conditioning in Sports
The importance of a Positive Attitude
Most elite skating coaches agree that the mental attitude of the athlete is responsible for achieving a competitive edge leading up to and during competitions.
How and when should mental training become an essential part of a training program for skaters is a debatable question, especially if this is another for fee service parents must factor into their already constrain budget for skating related expenses.
Recently a judge on a panel for a Junior MITF test, observed a skater initially performing a test element with a high degree of technical skills; however, as the candidate reached the halfway point down the ice surface, the technical performance declined from excellent to acceptable. After the test the judge discussed the observation with the coach and they both agreed that something had occurred. The conclusion was that the skater's focus had jumped ahead to the last quarter of the element. The result was that an automatic muscle response kicked in, causing the skater to revert back to a previously acquired lower performance level.
Mental conditioning and mental toughness programs
Coaches of team sports frequently say their program employs mental conditioning, but many of these programs stress improving physical performance by subjecting athletes to extreme physical challenges that can quickly break a player down, both mentally and physically. Note: This is sometimes patterned after "boot camp" training used in the armed services.
These programs give the appearance of being successful because they quickly result in athletes who are not willing to make the commitment to the expectations of physical, emotional, and mental intensity, to drop out. Imagine a situation where the entire team has to start at the beginning of the workout after one individual screws up.
Every mental toughness program requires increasing an individual's focus. Martial arts type workouts help to perfect focus. Coaches may selected their best players to be in the front of a class to demonstrate and demand excellence of everyone on their team. Individuals who whine or moan can expect to receive "special attention" from team members after the workout.
Players who complete such mental conditioning programs develop a feeling of superiority combined with arrogance and unshakable confidence. Such players can visualize their own success and taste the team's success. Such programs develop athletes who possess a fierce desire to win. They are willing to sacrifice their bodies in an effort to win.
Physical and Mental Training Considerations
The Process of Learning
Skill Development Environment:
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:
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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.