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Fear in Figure Skating

May 31 2016

Fear in Figure Skating Sports Psychology Quote

We all have it and we all hate it.  Fear.  Although very common in figure skating and sports, fear is most definitely not our friend.  (Note that fear is not the same thing as nerves.  Nervousness means that something is important to us, and nerves can be extra excitement that makes performing or competing fun and special!)  Fear, on the other hand, creates worry, which creates self-doubt, which creates a negative mindset.  Fear can debilitate us.  How do we instead debilitate our fear?

First, identify the fear.  Second, overcome the fear.

Identifying the fear

Identifying fears is essential.  Avoiding our fears is a good way to let them escalate.  Instead, know what you are afraid of, and then you can conquer it.  When you feel fear rising up, think through your fear:  What am I worried about?  What am I scared it will happen?  Why am I worried and scared about it?

Overcoming the fear

Now that you know what you are afraid of, you can learn to oppose that fear.  Some mental toughness programs and exercises can help you teach yourself to overcome fears.  You can also think though your fear:  Is this fear rational?  Do I have fear even though I am well prepared?

If the fear has no real foundation, review how well you have prepared, remember all of the times in practice when your program went right, and think of the encouragement coaches and parents have given—think of all the people who believe in you and know you can do it!


1.  Fear of failure at a competition

I had fear at competitions because I worried about messing up after all of the time I had put into practicing my program well.  I was scared of letting myself and my parents and coaches down.  I also wanted to do well so much that I was scared of not doing as well as I had hoped.

I am a bit of a perfectionist, meaning that too often I strive for making absolutely no mistakes, which isn’t always possible.  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes—no one can always be perfect!  Instead of focusing on doing something perfectly, I need to focus on doing my best.  That is my goal!  Another goal that really helped me was focusing on just having fun.  Realizing how much I loved figure skating allowed me to enjoy the performance instead of worrying my way through.  When I finished, I asked myself if at that very moment I did my best.  If I did my best, that is all I can ask for.  The same goes for parents and coaches—they can only ask for your best, too.  They are there to support you after your best performance and your worst.  And always remember, your worth as a person doesn’t depend on your success in sports.

Sometimes you will have amazing programs that are practically perfect.  Then you will have competitions where you are disappointed with your program.  Figure skating and every single other sport are simply like that.  Sometimes, you just have to accept the past, trust that your mistakes only can help you, and believe in the future.   Then you can move on by learning from your mistakes.  (All mistakes are opportunities to grow!)

2.  Fear of falling

For most of us, I think the fear of falling is a two-part problem.  We are afraid of falling because we don’t want to get hurt and we don’t want others to think poorly of us.

Yes, falling is a part of learning something new, but that does not mean you cannot reduce your risk of injury.  First, learn good technique from your coach.  Secondly, wear protective gear.  For example, wear padding to absorb impact on falls.  You can also wear braces, wraps, or kinesiology tape if you are currently injured or returning from injury, as your doctor or physical therapist suggests.  Visualization is also a great way to deal with a fear of falling.  Close your eyes and visualize landing a perfect jump.  Feel the motions of the jump—the entry, the air positions, and the landing.  You can even go through the steps of the jump while off-ice, too.  You also can visualize your programs.

The reality is, all of your competitors make mistakes.  Every figure skater has fallen in the warm up before a competition.  Don’t let your fall in the warm up create fear and destroy confidence, because chances are, everybody else has fallen just like you, too.  And in all honesty, most people probably don’t care that much about your fall in the warm up—the other skaters are “in the zone” and focused on their warm up, the judges are getting things ready, and the audience is excited to watch everyone skate (if they saw you fall, they are probably cheering for you to get back up and land it next time)!

Finally, just realize that we all make mistakes and we all have fears.  You can learn to overcome your fears and realize that your biggest fears weren’t that big of a deal at all!  Be bold! 

We hope this article helped you!  You can also find many resources online or get in touch with a sports psychologist.

Do you have any tips for overcoming fears that you would like to share with us?  Do you have any fears that you struggle with?  Write us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we might address it in a future article!