Monday, October 23, 2017

Letter from the Editor- May 2013

May 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured Articles

Dear Readers,

This month I had the honor of interviewing Olympic Gold Medalist Brian Boitano. He recently released his first cookbook, What Would Brian Boitano Make. While I was talking with him I gained such an appreciation for his hard work and dedication to his pursuits. He truly demonstrates what it takes to be a champion both on the ice and off.

I was struck in particular by one story he shared with me. I asked him if he remembered what he was thinking about during his Olympic program. While he said I could pause his Olympic program anywhere and he could tell me exactly what he was thinking during each moment, it was what he was thinking beforehand that really stayed with me.

If you watched Boitano compete you know he was a consistent skater. Right before he was about the skate his Olympic long program a bout of nerves kicked in. He recalled thinking that he was going to blow it. That the Olympics would be the first time he made mistakes and that it would be in front of thousands of people. He had mere seconds to shut those thoughts down.  He said he looked up at the Olympic rings at the start of his program. He said;” This is it. Focus on one thing at a time”. In the end we know that he not only focused, but went on to win Olympic gold that night.

Competitive athletes and anyone that puts themselves in front of an audience for that matter, are subjected to intense scrutiny and pressure. Nerves are something all athletes must learn to handle. Most of the time athletes feel like they are alone in dealing with it; like they are the only ones that experience nerves before a big event.

But guess what? Everyone gets nervous. Even the the Olympic Gold Medalists. It’s what you do when the pressure hits that counts. It’s deciding in the moment whether or not you’re going to give into the fear and pressure or whether you are going to rise to the occassion.

Turning nerves into excitement and using them your advantage requires practice. Just as technique is trained, or speeches are rehearsed, mental skills must be mastered. Day in and day out find ways to improve your mental toughness. Try meditating, visualizing, reframing your thoughts; try new and different ways for you to build self trust. Because after awhile, mental skills won’t be something you practice anymore. It’ll be part of who you are- someone that trusts his/her abilities and can pull out a great performance when it counts.

Happy reading!

Nicolette

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