Guest Post by Will Chitwood. San Diego skating coach Will Chitwood writes about an important topic for both skaters and parents in this guest post called “How to Get the Most out of a Skating Competition.”
Competitions are great opportunities to develop skating abilities and gain experience. Having a goal such as a competition to work toward helps strengthen your focus and motivates you to master the elements at your level. Following are my 3 top tips for getting the most out of a skating competition.
1. Learn from the placement.
I never look at the purpose of a competition as placement but as an opportunity to learn from the positives or negatives of the experience. Good placement can reinforce the hard work you put in to get to the competition. While good placement is a nice reward and motivator, you learn more from the poor placements than the high placements. A disappointing result makes you look at what caused the outcome, therefore motivating you to improve the areas of weakness that hindered your result. When Aaryn Smith and I competed internationally in pairs, our coaches Dalilah Sappenfield and Tom Zakrajsek always went over the points lost or earned in each program and evaluated how we could earn more points at the next competition.
2. Look at what you did well.
Many times, skaters will exit the ice upset with themselves because they made a mistake or two. This has a negative effect on the whole competition experience because it focuses your mind on only the mistakes. This focus creates self-doubt for your next event and causes you to feel frustrated and negative. A better way to look at the program is to acknowledge if you made a mistake, but then focus on the good elements. This positive reinforcement on what you did right gives you more confidence and puts your mind in a positive place. With a productive attitude, you then can look at how to avoid making the same mistakes at the next competition.
3. Find something to celebrate.
Every competition is a challenge, and I believe that if you show a good attitude, no matter what the outcome, you should find a way to celebrate. This may be a small treat or reward at the end of the event or eating out afterward. Sometimes for bigger events it’s nice to celebrate with a larger reward like spending another day seeing the sights of the area. Whatever you do, try to find some way to celebrate because this will help you positively remember the competition and will keep you from just focusing on the placement.
Remember, no matter how poorly or well a competition goes, there always is something you can learn from the experience. Keep in mind that having a challenging goal like a competition to work toward helps you grow as a person and athlete.