Coping With Your Inner Critic in Skating

Self-Critical Skaters

Are You a Self-Critical Figure Skater?

In figure skating, your rival and your biggest adversary present two separate challenges…

Your rival may be a skater you have grown up with or someone who beat you the previous year… Or a skater with a higher rank. Your biggest adversary is not another person, it’s YOU!

An adversary is often referred to as an enemy who continuously and relentlessly opposes you.

Think of a time when you were your own worst enemy… Did you verbally berate yourself after a fall? Did you mentally give up before you even started your program? Did you allow yourself to be intimidated by other skaters?

Ashley Wagner is an accomplished U.S. figure skater who won a silver medal at the 2016 World Championships and has three U.S. National titles.

Despite all her accomplishments, Wagner still battles that internal adversary at times. Wagner took a two-month sabbatical after her last Grand Prix event in China. Wagner under-rotated jumps and battled doubts en route to finishing outside the top five for the first time in her 25 Grand Prix starts dating to 2007. Wagner has admitted that she can sabotage her performance by being too hard on herself.

Heading into her 10th senior U.S. Championships, Wagner was seeking to rebound and squelch that inner critic.

WAGNER: “The door is wide open for everyone [at the 2017 U.S. Championships]. I think that there is no obvious or clear front-runner… I’m competing against myself, because I’m usually my own worst enemy at nationals. If I think about everybody else, that’s not going to help me.”

Wagner’s goal was to quiet her inner critic at the U.S. Championships. By staying positive, Wagner was able to perform strong in the free skate program, taking second place and putting herself in position to make the U.S. World Championship team.

7 Warning Signs that You are Your Own Worst Enemy

  1. You have difficulty giving yourself credit for your successes.
  2. You disqualify your strengths.
  3. You create super high expectations of yourself and wonder why you always fail.
  4. You compare yourself and your accomplishments to other skaters.
  5. You are overly critical of most things you do.
  6. You over-analyze your performance and beat yourself up over every past mistake or missed opportunity.
  7. You fear you will fall or make mistakes.

Why be so self-critical?

You are already facing strong competition and tough challenges, there is no need to make it harder.

Besides, your thoughts about yourself are usually distorted. You are too close to yourself to see things as they truly are and just because you think a thought doesn’t make it fact.

You can just as easily grab a hold of thoughts that support your skills, talents and accomplishments. You can choose to be your biggest fan rather than your worst enemy… IT’S A CHOICE!

A Strategy For Overcoming Your Inner Critic

First, you need to fact-check your thoughts. Ask other people for their feedback regarding your skills and performance.

Ask yourself, “Is there a chance that I’m too hard on myself?”

If so, make a conscious choice to replace the inner critic.

Start with one positive self-statement, “I have trained hard and am primed for success.”

Ask yourself: How often do I criticize myself when skating? Being more aware if the first step to changing this behavior.

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