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Thread: Mental Toughness

  1. #1
    GOLDEN DREAMS RealtorGal's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Mental Toughness

    Where does a skater find the mental toughness to overcome nerves? How do they overcome memories of a bad skate? For example, after Michelle's loss to Tara at World's, I've never seen her really come apart at the seams again in quite the same way. What happened? (Yes, she has lost competitions since then but never fell apart the way she did that year with her multiple falls.) What's the secret? Some never find it.

  2. #2
    In the void
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    As I have not that much insight in the skater's scene, I can only guess. I think it's easier to overcome bad events if you have a stabile surrounding outside the skating world. If you have people who support you anyway.

    Some weeks ago I saw the US covering of the 1988 olys for the first time. It was great to see the father of Jill Trenary going thru the competition. He was really in it, feared for her, hoped for her - but nevertheless he said he would never press her to do anything in skating and in a way he even would have liked her more to do something else (iirc). No pushing beyond the boarders but a heartily support.... Something like that can make people strong.

    And of course besides that there are stronger and weaker characters per se.

  3. #3
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    Michelle fell apart at Nationals. She fell out of her short program combo at Worlds but that was it. Michelle actually won the long program at Worlds in ’97 (I think). The ordinals were all over the place.

  4. #4
    Passion Lives Here
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    I guess it is something that the skaters need to learn to deal with, to be one of the top eligible skaters. If the skater is always worrying about having a bad skate, or making mistakes like in their previous competition, they may always skate cautiously, and never really reach full potential. I think, the best skaters out there have learned to focus only on the current competiton. Not to think about last time, and how they placed in competions before.

  5. #5
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    In this particular order:

    Motivation - After a loss. and dreams shattered, then facing the summer months, being basically alone. Something has to pop to bring a skater back to the rink.

    Determination - Once back at the rink, the will to practice all that harder together with a new plan of action must be in the place.

    The Moment of Truth - To get on with the routine in front of an audience and judges knowing that this is a new beginning.

    I think one must learn to have faith in oneself or regain that faith if it were lost. MK is a good example; Sasha can do it; Irina will make sure this year; Tim will not falter again (too close for the win)...and the beat goes on.

    Joe

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    I think a healthy does of arrogance will help too. If you honestly think you are better than the competition, then it's probably easier to compete. I think we've seen glimpses of big egos in skating before. I remember Katarina Witt once saying something similar, that if she believed she were better, it made skating easier.

  7. #7
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    In every sport mental toughness is almost as important as raw talent. In figure skating, you can easily run through the elite names and see who has it, and who needs it.

  8. #8
    TriGirl Rinkside
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    I've often wondered about mental toughness in any type of athletics. To some extent, I think an athlete has it or doesn't. Some people thrive on pressure, but others crumble. I think it was Ros who once said that Michelle is one of the rare competitors who elevates her skating from the practice ice to the competitive ice. Of course there are instances where an athlete who appeared not to have the mental toughness to perform up to their ability finds a way of doing so - whether it's a way to calm nerves, increase confidence, etc. - but, I think that this cannot always be learned.

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    Originally posted by Antilles
    I think a healthy does of arrogance will help too.

    Why hasn't that helped Mike Weiss yet?

    I will answer my own question now by saying I don't think he really believes his own hype. Sometimes they louder they talk, the more insecure they are.

  10. #10
    Lovin' the Kween ... Now and Forever
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    I think one part of the mental toughness would actually have to do with training habits ... like going through programs (mistakes and all), so that when they make an error in the actual competition ... they don't fall apart. I would think their confidence level would be better.

  11. #11
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Mental Toughness

    RealtorGal:

    Most skaters realize that they must be "mentally tough" before they enter the competitive world. Elvis Stojko is probably the best example of a skater who is mentally tough. His philosophy is "to be your own best friend." Some skaters never develop this toughness - they usually don't last in the competitive world. The best thing for a skater to do after a bad skate, is to forget about it - learn from it, but don't keep dwelling on it. Leave the memory of it behind and be determined to improve any weaknesses is probably the best way to overcome bad nerves. Also building self-confidence really helps in this dept. I think that is what is mainly lacking with our Canadian female skaters - they don't have the confidence that the others have. It has to be developed at an early age.

    Ladskater

  12. #12
    Kwan's vodka dealer VIETgrlTerifa's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mpal2
    Why hasn't that helped Mike Weiss yet?
    ROFL.

    I think a lot of factors play into it. Strong support around you, ability to thrive under pressure, motivation, determination, etc.

    I think there is an extent where you can learn the mental toughness through years of adversity (Maria B., Irina), and there are times when it is natural for a skater (Michelle).

  13. #13
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    What Michelle has often been taken for granted for by non Michelle fans is her mental toughness. It's so easy to forget it's as important as skills in competitions and that, it's what that separates great champions from ordinary champions. In every sport, you need mental toughness to be great champions, even in passive sports like snooker, bowling, golf and the likes.

    Michelle's mental toughness has always amazed me. After the horrible meltdown at 1997 Nationals and her fourth placing after SP at 1997 Worlds, she came back strong and won the LP. And her comeback with a fresh dose of positive attitude after the major disappoinment at 1998 Olys is commendable. I was made speechless in total amazement when she performed what is considered one of her best performances by her fans - Fields of Gold, one day after another major disappointment at 2002 Olys. When you face another similar major disappointment, the effect is devastating because the second one can consume you as it kinda reaffirms what a failure you are. She has managed to move on.

    Sorry that i talk about Michelle most of the time because I don't don't read much about other skaters.

    Antilles I think a healthy does of arrogance will help too. If you honestly think you are better than the competition, then it's probably easier to compete. I think we've seen glimpses of big egos in skating before. I remember Katarina Witt once saying something similar, that if she believed she were better, it made skating easier.
    I agree. An althlete has to be arrogant but not overconfident to have mental toughness. Sasha's case is interesting. She is arrogant (in a good way of course, I find her a nice kid) and confident. However, she always has "those moments" in one way or another. I would say, she lacks mental toughness to match her incredible raw talents.
    Last edited by apache88; 07-28-2003 at 09:56 PM.

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    I think that being only 5th at 1997 Wolds (after the silver in 1996) gave Ilia Kulik a huge push towards the Olympic season. It helped him to find the mental toughness and concentration needed to be able to win the gold in the Olympics, in my opinion. Of course all that depends very much on one´s own personality & character. Honda was 5th in 2001 Worlds, and as much as I would have liked to see him winning in SLC, he did not. On the other hand as an example he is not a good one when comparing to Ilia, because in 2000 Honda was 10th.

    >mpal2
    Why hasn't that helped Mike Weiss yet?

    I will answer my own question now by saying I don't think he really believes his own hype. Sometimes they louder they talk, the more insecure they are.>

    I think Weiss just tries to push himself mentally.

    Marjaana
    Last edited by Jaana; 07-29-2003 at 04:58 AM.

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    Re: Mental toughness

    I would say, she lacks mental toughness to match her incredible raw talents.
    I'm no religions but sometimes make me think the God is fair. No one is born perfection. Human can only work towards the perfection. The incredible raw talents may be sometimes in a way is not good for developing mental toughness.

    Apache, not sure if you already saw this one. There are downloads Eurosport version (BBC) of Michelle's 2003 worlds SP, LP in this thread from MKF. Listen what non NA commentators have to say about her skating is interesting.

    http://pub1.ezboard.com/fmichellekwa...ID=19918.topic

    Last edited by mzheng; 07-29-2003 at 01:15 PM.

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