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Thread: Advice on test strategies

  1. #1
    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Advice on test strategies

    Do any of you have any advice on how to calm down during tests? I find tests to be more nerve-wracking (especially USFSA moves in the field) than actual competition. I once had Morry Stillwell judge my moves (he passed me!), but I was still very nervous. Every time I would hear my blades scratch instead of rip, I felt sure I was done for.

    What do you do before tests, or during the actual skate that help calm your nerves some?

  2. #2
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    I've found that doing full run throughs of MIF tests in front of a group of people standing in the hockey box is helpful. Then my coach would pick the move that she felt requires a reskate (if any) and then moving on to work on something else. I often practice moves to particular pieces of music that help me get the cadence of the move and I focus on that in my head when I test (which really helps). For example, Billy Joel's Piano Man is great for the timing of counters (Novice) and Rockers (Junior)

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    Sitting Here on Blue Jay Way silver.blades's Avatar
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    I have an off ice routine I go through before I skate a test. It's mainly a simplified ballet barre and some basic stretches, but I find that it helps centres and grounds me. I always do it it full costume, hair and makeup as well just to make sure that I'm comfortable in everything. During the test I focus on breathing out. It helps calm me down and gets my body on auto pilot, which if you're ready to take a test then your muscle memory knows what to do.

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    Custom Title leafygreens's Avatar
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    My coach had a judge volunteer to give me a critique during a freestyle session. I went through the whole test for her. It helped.
    Last edited by leafygreens; 10-23-2012 at 09:36 AM.

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    Custom Title leafygreens's Avatar
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    Bumping this because I have a test coming up and am very nervous. It's a re-skate and I've failed once already. A coworker told me about a psychologist's tip. About 20 mins before the event, write down your worst fears on a piece of paper and tear it up. It's supposed to help get those "what-ifs" out of your head.

    I tried that during my last test and it sort of helped, but my legs lock up so bad that I can barely skate. I read how Gracie Gold said she "goes somewhere else" in her head, back to the practice rink or whatever. I need to figure out how to do that.

    It really doesn't help to be nervous, and I tell myself that, that the judges want you to do well, etc. But there's something about being out there alone with your toe picks scratching that's just terrifying.

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    Before tests I'd always tell myself I was just practicing each element just how I would in a warm up before a freeskate. If possible make have the coach call out the element instead of the judge or encourage you by repeating the element to you as they would in practice.

    If it's dance, you just have to relax. Do a run through in the change room or start humming the music to yourself as you're stroking around the ice at the start of warm up.

    It could work for or against you but I'm usually like "Well, at least I don't have to worry about all these other skaters in my way!"

    And remember we've all done re-skates, so think of this as a chance to show everyone how much you've improved since last time, which I bet you totally have. Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    A coworker told me about a psychologist's tip. About 20 mins before the event, write down your worst fears on a piece of paper and tear it up. It's supposed to help get those "what-ifs" out of your head.
    That actually sounds like it might be somewhat effective - if nothing else it would take your mind off the skating and give you something to do while you are waiting to go out.

    I just took a MITF test and what really helped me was preparing by only doing a very short warm up and doing my moves "cold" every time I went out to skate. After that I could do other things or focus more on any particular pattern I had trouble with, but I didn't allow myself to stop/restart in the middle, I had to go through all of them even if I made a mistake... eventually I started making fewer mistakes, and in the weeks before my test I wasn't making any, and that really began to build my confidence. I felt very strong and very prepared when I went out to take my test, I wasn't anywhere near as nervous as I had been in the past, and I attribute that to simply being better prepared this time. I feel like the same could work for a freeskate test too - practice limiting your warm up time, and just go for it Practice what happens if you have to wait after your warm up too.

    Conquering nerves is really most about trusting yourself to do what you know you can do... don't let your brain talk your body out of doing what you know it can do

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    Custom Title leafygreens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarahspins View Post
    I just took a MITF test and what really helped me was preparing by only doing a very short warm up and doing my moves "cold" every time I went out to skate.
    I hate doing this, even in practice! It is scary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I hate doing this, even in practice! It is scary.
    It is scary, but it really does help build the confidence you need to trust yourself to be able to do them without much warm up.. if you can do that, you know you're ready for your test.

  10. #10
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    I hate doing this, even in practice! It is scary.
    But in practice it "doesn't matter" if their really crappy or really fantastic. Practice is the place to get out all your nerves and errors. At least, that's what my coaches say...

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    The way I finally passed my nemesis Intermediate MIF test was to stand by the ice surface before the test and visualize that I was placing beautiful glowing power orbs onto the ice exactly where each one of my most challenging moves was going to be. I told myself they would be there for me and get me through each of those turns as I came to them. It worked. And of course it helps get rid of the shaky knees if you do a few minutes of slow, deep breathing as you wait to take the ice for your test. Slow, deep breathing actually gets your brain out of "fight-or-flight" mode.

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    I know that nobody likes to fail, but I find the people who have the most success are also the people who fail the most. I love this commercial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45mMioJ5szc

    I know it's wierd, but to calm myself, I remind myself that we under-value failure. While we should never strive to fail, failure is something that we can embrace, because of what it can teach us about ourselves, because of what we can learn from it, because of how sweet success will be once we achieve our goal. I've failed the same skating test multiple times, but I have never failed to eventually pass a test. Taking an attitude of "I'm going to try my best, but I'm okay with whatever the outcome is" helps me a bit to calm my nerves.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I like my grandson's attitude to failure.

    As he says, "on my way to the top, I'll just keep starting till I have to stop."

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