Preparing for a Competition

The Day Before | The Day Of | Helpful Hints | Dealing With Stress

Competitions are fun. It's a time to meet other skaters and show them what you can do.
It's a time when you can demonstrate what you have accomplished with all your hard
work and practice. But competitions can also be stressful - for the very same reasons -
not only for the skaters, but also for the parents and coaches. One of the best ways to
deal with the demands and stress of competitions is to be well prepared. The following
are suggestions for skaters (and parents) who are entering competitions; they are meant as helpful guidelines.

To begin with:

  1. Fill out the competition entry form and return it promptly. Make sure you have the
    "Home Club Permission" signed by an officer of the club. Don't forget the payment.
  2. At competitions, skaters are typically given 5 or 6 minutes to warm-up just before their event. Work with your pro and establish exactly how you will warm-up in 5 or 6
    minutes (i.e. the order of warming up your moves, spins, jumps and footwork). This
    way you will know exactly which order to warm-up each move, spin & jump. Practice
    the warm-up procedure often - so you're comfortable with it. In practice, do your
    program (even if it's without music) immediately after warming-up. Some days, try
    warming-up for 6 minutes and then getting off the ice for 5 minutes or so and then
    returning to immediately do your program. This simulates exactly what will happen at
    a competition and will help take away a good part of the stress involved right before
    you compete simply because you will be confident that the competition warm-up was exactly as you had practiced.
  3. Do your program in practice until you are really comfortable with it "Until it feels like
    an old pair of shoes" - Dick Butten (I think).
  4. Practice smiling and being positive and confident throughout your program -
    displaying confidence and a positive attitude in your skating will really help you with
    the judges.
  5. Practice your routine/program in your competition outfit at least once. Use
    competition make-up and test it for color, lighting etc. Try out your competition
    hairdo. Use your 5 or 6 minute warm-up just like it's the real thing.

The day (or so) before the competition:

  1. Check travel directions to the rink.
  2. Plan to arrive at the competition at least one hour prior to your scheduled start time.
    (The schedule may be mailed to you just prior to the competition date or it may be
    posted at the competition rink a few days prior to the competition.)
  3. Prepare two (2) CDs of each of your competition programs. Make sure both are playable and
    do not contain additional tracks. One will be collected at registration; the other should be
    kept at rinkside (either with the parent or the pro) just in case of a problem with the
    collected disk.
  4. Clean/polish your skates (including the tongue); make sure the laces are clean (or
  5. Get the items together that you will (or may) need at the competition:

a. Competition outfits/dresses - check for loose beads, etc.
b. An extra outfit/dress - just in case
c. Competition hosiery or tights -
d. Warm-up sweater
e. Warm-up pants
f. Gloves
g. Skates - (don't laugh; it's happened)
h. An extra pair of clean laces - make sure they are the correct length
i. A screwdriver - to tighten your blades if they get loose
j. Wooden matches (or equivalent) - to temporarily fill screw holes if nec.
k. Skate guards - clearly labeled with your name
l. Tylenol, aspirin, advil, etc. -
m. Band-aids & blister pads
n. Any sanitary needs
o. An extra pair of tights - just in case the rink is extra cold
p. Clear nail polish - for emergency repair of runs in hosiery
q. Hairspray, hair pins & ties, etc. -
r. Safety pins
s. Needle & approp. colored thread - for emergency repairs
t. Hairdryer - for warming boots or drying a wet skater
u. Make up
v. Skate polish - for quick touch-ups if nec.
w. Still camera & film - no flash
x. Video camera & tape(s) - if allowed at your competition

The Day of the Competition:

  1. Leave home early. Plan to arrive at the rink at least an hour or so before your
    scheduled warm-up time. Many competitions run early (due to skaters that drop-out
    or last minute changes). They typically will not wait for you. (Arriving late just
    adds to the stress.)
  2. Check-in at the registration desk immediately upon arrival at the rink. Hand in your
    tape and determine exactly how long it will be before you skate.
  3. Spend time alone; focus; visualize; think and plan out your program(s) on this rink.
  5. Warm-up properly and according to your planned and practiced warm-up procedure. Know exactly what order you will warm-up each spin, jump or move and stick to your plan.
  6. When off the ice, keep moving so you don't tighten up; jump rope if possible.
  7. Bring a walkman for relaxation, it helps manage the stress of the day.
  8. Keep your eyes, chin and head UP; SMILE AND BE CONFIDENT.
  9. At the end of your program always bow to the judges and the audience; keep your
    head high and SMILE - even if your performance wasn't your best.
  10. If you have any problems before, during or after the competition, speak with your pro
    and/or talk to the referee.
  11. After you have skated, watch and observe your fellow competitors.
  12. Always show support for your Club members.
  13. Some days you'll do great; some days you won't. That's the nature of this sport.
    Always remember GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP at all times. Don't brag if you're 1st;
    don't complain if you're last; always try to be POSITIVE.
  14. Never leave your skates unattended in your car or in locker rooms.

Other Helpful Tips:

  1. If you use panty hose, make sure they are clear to the waist.
  2. Do not wear underpants under your competition dress (it shows).
  3. Use make-up, rink lights are typically very strong and tend to wash out color.
  4. Make sure your hair is neat and tidy and preferably off your face.
  5. Make sure your hair and any hair ornaments are well secured; criss cross the bobby
  6. Warm-up sweaters should be short/waist length. If it is excessively cold, wear a
    sleeveless silk undershirt underneath.
  7. Bring warm-up pants (or a blanket or heavy coat) to keep your legs warm while
    you are waiting to skate.
  8. Don't forget your skates.
  9. Remember: looking neat, tidy and confident is a must for success.

On the Stress and Anxiety associated with Competitions:

Competition day (and sometimes the days leading up to it) are stressful times for skaters, parents and coaches. Every skater wants to do their best. Every coach wants their pupil to excel. Every parent wants their child to win. No matter what anyone does, there will always be stress. Each skater, parent and coach will deal with it differently. There are ways to deal with much of the stress beforehand: Take control of all of the items that you CAN control and try not to think about the items you CAN'T control. By being well PREPARED for the competition, you are taking control of many of the items that you CAN control and you're doing it ahead of time so it doesn't add to the stress you may feel by those items you CAN'T control. This will make it easier for the skater and everyone else concerned. Also, try to focus on your own skating and not your competitors or the judges. You can't control their skating or their judging; you can only control your own skating and your own actions. Parents: try to remember that your skater is under a fair amount of stress at this time. You can assist them by being aware of this, by being POSITIVE support for them, by making sure they are well prepared for the competition and by ALWAYS building their confidence in themselves.