“Ninety percent of the game is half mental” – Yogi Berra
Every competitive figure skater knows some version of the feeling: you just finished the warm-up and are pacing the rink hallway keeping your legs warm, when the nerves hit and your heart beings to race. You are so excited for your chance to compete but your mind is whirring and you need to regain your center or risk psyching yourself out. You take a few deep breaths, remember all your hours of training, and then calmly take the ice for your best skate of the season.
One of the toughest and most fascinating parts of any sport, especially Figure Skating, is the incredible mental discipline that is required to succeed. A mastery of the mental side of the sport can mean the difference between calmly skating a clean program in competition, or popping jumps you can usually land in your sleep.
Here are 5 sports psychology books that all figure skaters should read:
1) Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence – Gary Mack
Sports Psychology consultant Gary Mack explains how the mind influences athletic performance as much, if not more than physical skill. The book showcases lessons from elite athletes across a wide variety of sports and how they built their “mental muscle.” This is a great book to keep on hand in your skating bag since its short chapters are easy to flip back to whenever you need a quick confidence boost.
2) The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, & Thrive – Jim Afremow, PHD
A practical guide to achieving an optimal level of athletic performance, featuring tips and advice you can start implementing into your training routine today. The Champion’s Mind features stories from top athletes in sports including Golf, Gymnastics, and Speed Skating. Especially helpful are the sections on implementing controlled breathing, positive self-talk, and affirmations into a pre-competition routine.
3) The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle
While this isn’t a book about sports, it’s a fascinating guide to living in the present moment. If you have a tendency to get in your own head, The Power of Now provides a new framework for how to stop worrying about the future or replaying the past, in order to regain control over your thinking and perform at your best.
4) Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable – Tim Grover
“Relentless” draws on stories from top athletes and others at the top of their fields to explore what it means to relentlessly pursue your dreams and achieve success. The book identifies several traits such as grit, commitment, and positive routines that any figure skater can learn and habituate into their daily skating practice.
5) The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown
Dr. Brené Brown is a brilliant writer, Top 5 TED Talk speaker, and active research professor at the University of Houston studying complex emotions such as courage, vulnerability, shame & empathy. While all of Dr. Brown’s books are valuable reads, The Gifts of Imperfection is likely to hit home with figure skaters who struggle with perfectionism and self-criticism. In other words- all competitive figure skaters we’ve ever known. Brown’s books are deep yet highly relatable and would make for a wonderful summer book club series among skaters at the rink.
- the Joyce + Co. Team