Last March, a friend and I went to the Staples Center to watch the ladies’ long program at worlds. I hadn’t attended a skating competition since quitting the sport in 2005, and I was stunned by the emotions that immediately hit me when I entered the building. Instantly my stomach started to tense up. As we sat down in our seats, my palms got sweaty. Sitting in the nose bleed section, overlooking thousands of skating fans with their eyes glued to the sole skater in the middle of the ice, I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. The beating of my heart became so rapid that I had to shakily ask my friend if we could leave the action momentarily to take a breather. Although no eyes were on me that day, and my skates were safely tucked away in a hall closet at home, somewhere deep in my subconscious my body was preparing itself to compete.
The sensations that I felt that day in March used to be the norm for me, and the majority of skaters competing today experience feelings of intense anxiety prior to every competition. Although these physical sensations can be tough to deal with, nothing is worse than the thoughts of self-doubt that can plague a competitor on the day of a big event.