Tips for a Strong Mental Attitude for Competition

Will (13) and Christina (8) during their 1998-99 pairs season when they won their first Junior Olympics/Junior Nationals medal.

Will (13) and Christina (8) during their 1998-99 pairs season when they won their first Junior Olympics/Junior Nationals medal.

Having competed in pairs skating for ten years, I learned various techniques to handle the pressures of competition and public performance. After that, I was a skating coach for a number of years. Here’s how I dealt with my students’ most common competition fears.

Usually the most common fear for new skating competitors is performing in front of an audience. The skaters fear they will make a mistake and embarrass themselves in front of their family and friends. The most common question new competitors asked me was, “What if I fall?”

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Competition Checklist

Blade On Figure SkateI have a competition checklist for you! Bookmark this link in case you need it again for future reference! And don’t forget to double check for skates, costume, and music!

Here’s my general list of competition reminders:

  • Sharpen your skates about one week before the competition for good edges and to get comfortable with the sharpening.
  • For females, wear over-the-boot tights or have freshly polished skatesFor males, polish your skates if scuffed.
  • The night before you compete, be sure to get at least 8 to 9 hours sleep.
  • Again, remember to take your skates, costume, and music!
  • Bring a sweater or jacket to wear before you go on the ice so you stay warm and loose. You may want more than one layer!
  • You should arrive at the rink no later than one hour before your event.
  • When you arrive at the rink you should be wearing your costume, or you should plan to arrive early enough to have your costume on one hour before your event. Females, have your hair and makeup done. If you are planning to have a vendor do your hair or makeup, be sure that your appointment ends 45 minutes prior to your event start time.
  • When you arrive at the rink, turn in your program music CD and check in at the registration table.  
  • Put your skates on about 40 minutes before your event. About 30 minutes before your event, look for your coach by the ice entrance to get warmed up. 
  • Remember the goals of the competition are to have fun, to learn how to perform in front of an audience, and to give your full effort!!!
  • Don’t worry about results. Good competition placement isn’t the main focus; it’s just a bonus!
  • Remember to SMILE 🙂 & have fun!


Top 3 Competition Essentials

Even with a checklist of competition reminders, there are three essentials you should always double check right before you leave for a competition. The three most important things that a skater must have are skates, costume, and music.

1. Skates. Understandably, if you don’t have skates, you won’t be able to compete. Actually, that’s not entirely true. You could try rentals, but your skating would suffer greatly due to the lack of support and edges. You could buy new skates, but competition is about the worst place to try to break in new equipment. Finally, you could borrow someone else’s skates close to your foot size. I have actually seen skaters do this.

For example, when I was in Estonia for an international competition about 5 years ago, one of the ice dancers had lost her luggage. Since she was determined to skate, she borrowed her friend’s skates and used them for the competition. That hindered her skating, however, because the skates were slightly too large and she wasn’t used to the boot and blade.

While the circumstances were uncontrollable in that scenario, for local competitions, you can always have your skates in the car with you. If you have to fly, however, you often can’t carry on skates. Your options then are to either risk sending them though or overnight them by FedEx, UPS, etc. If you tend to forget to bring your skates, put them in an obvious place, such as in front of the door or in the car the day before.

2. Costume. While not as essential as skates, this item is still very important. Since most programs have a certain dress or outfit to go with the music, this is a very essential part of your competition appearance. Luckily, if all fails, usually there are costume vendors and you could purchase an outfit to closely suit your needs. However, the stress in scrambling to find an outfit in your size, appropriate for your program, and finding it in time will definitely up the stress level of your day.

3. Music. This is the final necessity for competitions. While your coach should have a backup copy of your music, that copy should only be used for last resorts such as music skipping. If you forget your music and the backup copy fails, then you will be unable to compete. The only other option is to somehow find a person who can purchase the original piece and re-edit your music before you compete. Once again, this option is much more work and stress than necessary.

As you can see, while just about any forgotten item can be salvaged, finding a way to skate under those circumstances can lead to a stressful and unproductive experience. So, don’t forget skates, costume, and music. Follow my checklist in the next article for a complete list of competition reminders.

Learn to Set SMART Goals in Figure Skating

If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?

– Basil S. Walsh

One of the first and most important skills an athlete needs is the ability to set goals.  Goal setting is a sport psychology concept that is relevant to all levels of figure skating, whether you’re a recreational skater or an elite skater aiming for an Olympic medal.  By setting goals, you will be a more confident and successful skater.

A useful acronym to use when setting goals is SMART:






Goals should be SPECIFIC.

An example of a specific goal is, “I will land 3 out of 5 loop jumps in my practice session today.”  Another example is, “I will hold each of my landings for 3 seconds today.”

Goals should be MEASURABLE.

The measurable parts of the above goals are in red: “I will land 3 out of 5 loop jumps in my practice session today,” or, “I will hold each of my landings for 3 seconds today.”

Goals should be APPROPRIATE.

When setting goals, it’s important for them to be appropriate for your skating level.  If you’re an ISI Freestyle 3 skater, it would not be appropriate to have a goal of landing an axel in your 12-week semester of group lessons.  A more appropriate goal would be to do a change-foot spin with 4 revolutions per foot during your semester of group lessons.

Goals should be REALISTIC.

Realistic goals are similar to appropriate goals. Unrealistic goals are goals that are not attainable for your level of skating.  A realistic goal for an ISI Freestyle 3 skater would be to obtain a sit spin with 3 revolutions in 2 months or a loop jump in 2 months.  An unrealistic goal would be for an ISI Freestyle 3 skater to land a double axel in 2 months.

Goals should be TIME-BOUND.

It’s important to put an accomplished date on all goals so you know they’ve been achieved.  It’s also important to set daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and long-term goals.

Why don’t you practice setting some goals?  Make sure they’re SMART.  Try setting 3 goals for this week.

SMART GOALS word art image created by Deb Chitwood

Against the Grain Hardcover and eBook Versions Are Available!

Against the GrainOver 8 months ago, I began working on a product that is very exciting for me. Creating it was a wonderful experience, and I’m so happy the time has come for me to share it with you. I’m delighted to present to you Against the Grain Featuring Christina Chitwood, Brian Tracy & Leading Experts from Around The World Who Reveal: How To Achieve Positive Results in a Down Economy! Both the hardcover and eBook versions of Against the Grain are now available!

Here’s a blurb about the book:

Against the Grain: Featuring Christina Chitwood, Brian Tracy & Leading Experts from Around The World Who Reveal: How To Achieve Positive Results in a Down Economy!

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Fuel Your Body through Healthy Eating

Christina Modeling Ellie's Double Threat Tank and Little Black CapriI have a post at on the “Top 10 Ways to Fuel Your Body through Healthy Eating.” Here’s the beginning of the post:

Ice dance and dance in general often require the ideal “dancer’s body”. The measures that skaters and dancers take to get this “dancer’s body” can be extreme and dangerous at times. Since ice dancing is a sport, it’s more important than ever to protect your body to help ensure its longevity.

Ice dancing is becoming more technically difficult all the time. This really takes a toll on the body, increasing the risk for injuries. Therefore, fueling your body through healthy nutrition is one of the best things you can do to lengthen your career.

Here are my top 10 ways for you as a dancer to both fuel your body and maintain a “dancer’s body”:

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