Ready to fall?

I was watching an ice-skating competition for the first time in my life at a friend’s house. It was the lady senior 2008 US Nationals. Since then, I have been thinking about this one girl who fell in a jump at the very beginning of her performance. After the fall she kept going as if nothing had happened; her jumps were decided and steady and her face looked graceful and relaxed. I couldn’t figure out what she had in her mind but what she expressed was self-possession. Even when she finished and went back with her trainer she looked cool. She kept smiling.  

After each performance the jury gives the points for that particular contestant. Well, she got a high score and at the end of the competition she came up third. Overall, after adding those points to the ones she already had she became the new 2008 senior ladies champion of the U.S. (the second youngest US champion ever).  

I read some years ago that a study was once made about some athletes to see how they dealt with stress. The study showed that all the participants experienced similar levels of stress before the competition started. The ones who obtained the best results were those who were able to avoid paying too much attention to the stress they were experiencing and instead directed their concentration to the movements they were making. 

I guess sometimes we try to overcome stress by getting rid of it. Maybe, this increases our mental pressure. Maybe it is more about were you invest your energy, where you carry your attention.


Mirai Nagasu                      (photo by Leah Adams)

(I read on-line that in an interview after the contest she said: ‘The fall on the double axel was like a kick in the butt. After that, I was like, ‘Attack!’ )


One Response to “Ready to fall?”

  1. Zeeshan Amin Says:

    Several thoughts came to me: First, I am sure these skaters (as well as gymnasts and probably all other sportsman) are professionally trained on how to avoid stress and how to continue performing after a blunder. The training for the second sort of situations would be critical for skaters especially, since they have the opportunity to continue performing after an error (unlike gymnasts or divers or cricketers, for whom it all ends).

    Second, its interesting to note how much appearances count. You know you have been destroyed, but you keep up the smile. Is it deceptive? Yes. But it is also extremely useful to keep up the deceptive appearance because you do not want to remind your judges that you have done something wrong. I am sure the coach would have trained her for that too.

    Finally, the ability to avoid paying attention to the stress levels is what makes a successful person, I think. The minute you recognize you are stressed or are worrying about something, thats when your body goes awry and deliberately commits errors in order to force you to stop doing that activity and go home a loser.

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