Do You Think About a Clean or Perfect Program in Competition?

Focusing on a Clean Performance in Skating

Focusing on a Clean Performance in Skating

What is the difference between a clean routine and a perfect routine in figure skating?

A clean program is a routine where your jumps are high, cover a lot of ground, fully rotated, tight aesthetically with pleasing air positions.

A perfect routine is one with absolutely no flaws. A routine that cannot be improved upon at all… A perfect just doesn’t exist!

The goal for your routine, a clean program or a perfect program, will affect your mindset.

When your aim is a clean routine, you focus on performing each element and each jump to the best of your abilities. You may feel jittery but you feel ready, confident and composed.

A shaky landing or a fall will still be disappointing but you are quickly able to move on to the next aspect of your program.

When you demand a perfect routine from yourself, you have no tolerance for mistakes. Setting your sights on perfection creates tremendous anxiety.

Instead of focusing on hitting your jumps, you will focus on NOT screwing up your jumps. The slightest flaw in your program will send you on a downward spiral of making more mistakes, overthinking elements in your program and under performing.

Patrick Chan, the three-time figure skating world champion and three-time Olympian, started off the 2018 Olympic Games with a shaky program.

Chan, admittedly, has under performed in each of his previous Olympics. Chan’s poor fortune has continued at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Chan fell on his first jump, an attempted quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination. Chan had a shaky landing on his next jump, the triple lutz, then fell a second time after a triple axel.

Chan attributed his poor performance to a mixture of nerves and having to compete unusually early in the morning.

Maybe there was something greater at play for Chan… Maybe his biggest nemesis was perfection.

CHAN: “When I stepped on the ice in the last two Olympics, I felt defensive. I felt very fearful of making a mistake. The biggest moment in our lives, the biggest stage in our lives, we want to be perfect, right?”

Chan’s thinking is flawed…

Being fearful of making mistakes and skating defensively are directly caused by aiming for perfection. It is stressful, at any competition, to skate under the high expectations of perfection.

As if perfection wasn’t stressful enough, a competition of Olympic magnitude fans the fires of stress.

Performing to your ability, in the biggest moment of your life, on the biggest stage, requires you to perform freely and rely on your instincts and skate in the moment.

In order to skate a clean program, you must overcome the belief that you need to be perfect to achieve great results.

How to Focus on a Clean Program:

I tell my skating students to think about performing a good program that they have done in practice–not a perfect one. This can take off the pressure of doing your best program ever.

Think about a clean program you’ve done in practice, not your best, and performing functionally is much preferred to trying to be perfect.

You don’t have to have a perfect routine, you only need to trust your skills from practice.

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