Figure Skating
hosted by
San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization

Mental Strategies for Training

Consistency in training leads to more performances with less errors
       The key to sports psychology is a consistent mental preparation that builds to a strong pre game focus, followed by a  crescendo with a great performance. Champion athletes generally have the ability to perform consistently in every championship performance.

       A consistent pre game routine helps to establish the positive mindset for success. Athletes should go through a pre competition checklist prior to stepping foot onto the playing field to compete.

       An excellent place for pre game mental preparation is during the normal scheduled warm up. Think of the warm-up routine as your as a mental tune-up prior to competition. The mental preparation has four important purposes including, but not limited to:

  • Getting physically ready,
  • Focusing the mind,
  • Instill confidence,
  • Reconfirming your faith in yourself.

       The pre game routine should include putting on your "Game Face" and becoming fully immersed in the "Now" experience, while excluding all not essential thoughts. A pre game routine should not become a superstitious ritual.

       Superstitions are based on the belief that specific behavior resulted in luck, repeating that behavior will bring you more luck. Superstitious rituals are irrational, but in the mind of a believer, the promote a sense of confidence until the ritual doesn't work. Pre game routines are based on science or reason. Superstitions do not have any scientific basis. 

       The pre game routine should allow the athlete to exclude daily problems, deadlines and chores. The goal is to become fully focused on preparing to compete. The strategy decisions should have been developed prior to the competition and influence pre game warm up. A coach of team sports usually develops the strategy and prepares the best plan of action for the team to respond to possible coaching strategies of the opposing team  and how well each team is playing during the actual competition.

       Some times athletes begin to doubt themselves at the worst possible times – during the pre game warm up or suddenly in the game or match. Positive self-talk can help the person feel that they have worked hard and are just as deserving of winning as their opponents.

Coaching a Mental Game Plan
       Athletes, with the assistance of a professional sports psychologist and coach, can develop an individualized plan to enhance the mental and emotional environment to maximize practice and competitive performances.  Such a mental training plan should be constructed using proven strategies that have helped athletes of all ages and abilities acquire the skills necessary to perform consistently well in competition.

       The priority of a mental game plan is to focus on the process – not the outcome! Focusing on the result places expectations on the performance. In your warm up routine, make sure to focus your attention on the execution required to accomplish your objective to perform to the best of your ability.

       The pre warm-up routine is a good time to rehearse your performance by visual, kinesthetic, auditory cues to feel or see the successful execution you have trained to perform.

       The pre game warm up or routine should not involve working on technique or mechanics of the performance. The purpose of this type of practice is to improve for a future competition. The warm up is all about performing what you have been training in the practice sessions. Trust what you have trained  and focus on the performance!  

Training Strategies
Whether you are a developing athlete, elite competitive performer, or professional, there are mental training strategies that can used to boost individual and team performance, plus help in the development of the mental toughness that are necessary in the pursuit of the aspirations in competitive, recreational, or fitness situations is both in practice and competition.. 

       Start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete

  • Uncover behaviors and attitudes that prevent you from performing your best.
  • Excel by mastering the mental strategies to take you to the next level!
  • Learn peak performance routines that pro athletes use.
  • Understand how to practice like a pro and improve practice efficiency.
  • Uncover secrets that pros use to reach peak performance.

All one-on-one sports psychology programs include:

  • Athlete's Mental Aptitude Assessment (AMAP) to identify mental game challenges.
  • Outline the qualities necessary to succeed in your sports
  • Map out an individual mental game plan outlining the mental strategies for improvement
  • List specific projects to achieve the goals and objectives of the plan
  • Develop a schedule of activities as a calendar time line
Mental Game Coaching
       Think like a coach and trainer and learn the mental game skills that are commonly shared by champions in any sport. 

       Every athlete looking to improve their performance must learn to:

  • Identify your beliefs and attitudes that impact how you perform — whether in practice or in the heat of competition.
  • Shatter your mental obstacles and build a stronger and healthier champion mindset. .
  • Master proven mental training strategies to give your performance a boost!
       An unexpected loss may lead to negative feelings, such as mild depression, frustration, or self doubts regarding one's ability. What can athletes do when faced with such difficulties? The following three athletic training strategies may be helpful to maintain a positive attitude that is necessary for continued motivation and effort.

Athletic Training Strategy

1st: View The Poor Performance As A Lesson Learned

It is human to make mistakes. Even the greatest athletes sometimes fall short of their goals. After a poor performance or loss, athletes may initially feel disappointed in response to a poor performance or a loss. However, if athletes do not view it as a personal disaster or an indication of personal incompetence, a poor performance or a loss can teach athletes a valuable lesson.

2nd: Identify Aspects Of The Performance That Are Controllable

When athletes expect to do well and do poorly instead, it is very important to determine whether the reasons for the loss are controllable or not. For example, two volleyball players were asked why they performed so poorly. One player commented: we could not play well because we did not play as a team and we made too many errors on serve reception.

The second player felt that the audiences were too loud and the opponents were too strong. Only two of these four factors are directly under the athlete's control. According to theory, effort and mental preparation are factors that are controllable, while factors such as style or skill level of the opponents; playing conditions or environment are things that athletes can not control. It is obvious that service reception techniques can be improved by daily practice and 6 players on the court can work as one by setting common goals and obtaining a better understanding each other.

Studies show that those athletes who view their effort and performance as main contributions to their outcome can do better in the future than those who attribute luck or other external factors to a poor performance. So when examining the reasons for a poor performance or an unexpected lose, attention should be focused on the factors that are controllable.

3rd: Examine Competition Goals

There are two types of goals in sport. One is focused on the outcome or the result of the competition. To beat the opposing team or to win a race are the examples of those goals. Studies in sport psychology have indicated that setting outcome goals alone does not enhance motivation or performance. Focusing only on the end product distracts the athlete's attention from the task at hand.

In addition, outcome goals are frequently out of the athlete's direct control. Research indicates that athletes' goals should be based on the process. Examples of process goals are improving one's percentage of passing accuracy to a target or serving the ball to a certain area of the opponent's court. Process oriented goals are more effective, because they can help athletes to concentrate on each play or action. Athletes know exactly what they need to do in order to be successful without worrying about the outcome.

So, after a poor performance or an unexpected loss, athletes need to determine if their goals for the previous competition were properly set on the performance. An old Chinese proverb states "A thousand miles' journey depends on each single step." In other words, one by one process goals can lead to a successful season.

In summary, an unexpected poor performance or loss need not have a negative impact. Athletes who apply proper strategies and draw positive things from such outcomes will gain insight, control and motivation from the experience.

Recommended Reading:

Gill, Diane L., (1986). Psychological Dynamics of Sport. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. Champaign, Illinois.

Goldberg, S. Alan., (1998). Sports Slump Busting: 10 Steps to Mental Toughness and Peak Performance. Champaign, IL

Human Kinetics Moran, Aidan P., (1996). The Psychology of Concentration in Sport Performers - A Cognitive Analysis. Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis. UK

Management Strategies in Athletic Training - 3E Athletic Training Education Series by Richard Ray  An excellent resource for athletic trainers who want comprehensive knowledge of management theory and practice. The book's organization strategies can also be applied beyond athletic training to a variety of fields related to sports medicine.

General Medical Conditions in the Athlete 2nd edition

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning


The Sports Environment

Developing A Training Plan

Training Considerations

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
Transferring 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

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

Athlete Concerns     Collection of Related Ideas    Skating Articles    Related Topics      

Ice Skating Rink Index    Topic Index    Site Index   Home Page