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“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
–Coach John Wooden
Back to School: When you see competitions as a learning experience you create a win-win situation. Even at the highest levels, your perspective is different, more optimistic, than when you only focus on winning or placement.
Pop Quiz: It is easy to look at the outcome of a competition and make negative snap judgments about your talent and progress (or lack of progress) since the last competition. Instead see a competition as a quiz. Quizzes in school give the student and teacher valuable information on what needs to be improved and what has already been learned well.
Losers might be Winners: Early season losses might indicate that you or a competitor are putting in harder elements that are less consistent. By challenging your limits, you place yourself in a position to excel in the future. Conversely if you win every competition you enter at a developmental level, you might not be challenging yourself enough. At the end of the season you could find yourself behind your peers in skill development.
Tattletale: Assigning blame for outcomes doesn’t change anything. Unless there is a competition rule or USFS violation to report, there is nothing you can change by complaining. Instead, learn from the situation and make a plan to improve so the next time you leave no doubt that you are the best.
Keep your eyes on your own paper: During a competition the athlete’s job is to focus on themselves. Whether a competitor has a Triple Lutz in their program or not is irrelevant to how you will prepare and execute your program. Celebrate what you can do and maintain your confidence. There are countless examples of a well executed program winning over a program with harder jumps, the most notable, the 2010 Olympic Mens event when Evan Lysacek won the Olympic Gold Medal over Evgeni Plushenko.
Do as I say and as I do: During competition, parents will do well to focus on their athlete and how to facilitate an optimistic environment for them to prepare in. Allow them to vent excess energy and redirect them in a gentle but firm way back to what they can do rather than focusing on their shortcomings. Model the behavior you want to teach.
When athletes and parents step back from the emotions, dashed expectations or excitement of the moment and see the big picture, there are always valuable lessons to take away from any competition experience. Practicing this learning mindset consistently will create mental toughness, accelerate learning and create a strong foundation for success.
“When an archer misses the mark, he turns and looks for the fault within himself.
Failure to hit the bulls-eye is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim, improve yourself.”
– Gilbert Arland
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