Wednesday, June 24, 2015

10 things I learned from watching BACS (British Adult Championships)

A couple of weekends ago, I went down to Sheffield with friends to watch the British Adult Championships. I try to go every year because it's so inspirational to watch other skaters my age and older competing. It was a fantastic event, as usual, and all the skaters were brilliant.

Here are some things I learned (or had reinforced in my mind) this year.

1) Adult skaters are paranoid. 

Not ALL adult skaters are paranoid, of course. You can't lump a whole bunch of people together like that, but certainly among skaters I know, this can be true.

I, and many others I know, often feel judged when we skate. Maybe we are sometimes. But at BACS, there's nothing but admiration for other skaters to be heard. When any skater is called out onto the rink at Sheffield, whatever their ability, skill level, or however long they've been skating, the only comments to be heard are positive ones, or occasionally "constructively-intended" criticism. There's not a bitchy word to be heard. It's refreshing when competitive sport can often be harsh.

2) Adult skaters are extremely supportive of one another.

Basically, see above.

3) Confidence, or lack of it, shows...

It's true. A confident skater is instantly judged to be a good skater. If they believe in themselves, it comes across. A lack of confidence does the opposite. If a skater skates out onto the rink with head held high and a beaming smile, the audience (and no doubt judges) are already making assumptions about what's to come. First impressions count.

4) ...BUT if you fake your confidence, it still shows.

Confidence is a state of mind - but it's also an outward impression. If you don't feel confident, try to come out with the head held high and the beaming smile anyway. Who's going to know you don't really feel it inside? The answer is - only you. Those first impressions will still be one of confidence, instantly colouring the audience's and judges' opinions of your skating skills.

5) Posture makes all the difference...

This point is again related to confidence. A slouchy skater looks to lack confidence, and therefore skill. If Mao Asada skated out onto the rink with a hunched up back, looking down at the ice, would you have been as impressed?

But this point also goes further than that. As we all know (or should know), the placement of the upper body makes a world of difference to our skating. My coach must have told me a million times that having my head looking up and in the right direction means I'm more likely to be on the right edge, or not scraping my toepicks, etc etc...

6) ...As do nice arms...

Even at some of the lower levels in which a skater doesn't yet have the confidence and/or ability to "do" too many "pretty arms" in their program, a nice, straight set of arms looks so much more confident than those with a bend at the elbow, or floppy arms. I see why my coach is a big fan of shouting "ARMS!" at me now. :-)

7) ...And finally - shoulders. 

I actually never realised until very recently what a difference shoulders make to a person's overall posture and look. Even just holding the shoulders a little too high (which happens a lot with nerves and tension) can make a person look ungainly or lacking in confidence.

8) If you forget your program, make it up as you go along and don't let on.

One girl I know had the "mind blank" issue on the day. I imagine she wasn't the only one. The thing was, we had no idea, watching her, that it had happened, until we saw her afterwards and she was upset about it. It's not an ideal situation, but try to remember that the only person who knows you've messed up is you. Unless you make it obvious, of course.

9) The golden rule: If you fall, get up - as fast as possible - and carry on.

Unless you've broken a bone, of course. Although, even then, if you can carry on, do. You can pass out later ;-)

Everyone will admire you when you carry on. Even the best skaters fall in competitions. It means you're skating to your full ability and pushing yourself. Good for you.

10) A bit different, number 10 - take a damn blanket.

Man does it get cold, sitting in an ice rink for maybe 12 hours, for two or three days straight. And a rink that was warm last time might not be this time ;-) You have been warned.

1 comment:

  1. Great observations, and so, so true! You are right that confident skaters always "look" the best out there - with their posture, carriage and execution. Half the issue with us adult skaters is that our minds get in the way! :)