At a goal-setting seminar that I recently presented to young competitive figure skaters, I asked the young skaters to write down their dream goal for their skating career. Excitedly each skater wrote down their desired goals and set their pencils down, thinking what I was sure was a task done!

My next question produced a room full of blank stares and quiet whispers among the skaters as they struggled to come up with the answer.  The question?… “Okay, you have your goal, now how do you achieve it?”  Many of the skaters dreamed of becoming a National Champion or to compete at Worlds.   Eventually, answers like; “Work really hard”, “Land all my triples” “Perform clean programs” and other such answers were offered.

These young athletes skate every day, rarely missing on-ice sessions, take plenty of private and group lessons and work hard during their off-ice classes, and HOPE that they will reach their goals and one day become a champion.

All skating parents and coaches want the best for the young athlete in his or her life, and many realize it isn’t enough to step on the ice every day, go through the jump exercises and program run-throughs, attend off-ice training and just work hard, having a well thought out, challenging yet realistic plan is key to success. 

Olympic athletes will tell you that proper “Big Vision” goal setting and the commitment to all that is necessary to achieve that goal is crucial to their success and that the lack of effective big picture planning is the cause of their failure.

During the lead up to the PyeongChang Olympic Games, the three-time world figure skating champion, Patrick Chan, for the first time in his career, decided to explore the psychological side of competing.

It was all part of the 26-year-old’s “no stone left unturned” approach to what would be his final Olympic appearance. 

As Patrick Chan explained in a CBC interview addressing how he previously handled the mental side of his training, “Usually when I have a good skate, I’m not quite sure how it happened…..I can’t really put my finger on how or what I did to make it successful.”

This is common among many skaters and athletes of all sports alike.  Talented, dedicated athletes, training and working hard year in year out towards their dreams, many dealing with injuries and disappointments, hoping they will achieve their goals not realizing a big part of the plan is missing.   Developing a “Big Vision” plan, using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal system, and learning necessary mental toughness tools to accomplish their goals gives an athlete a huge advantage over their competitors. 

My Mental Toughness Training Curriculum not only teaches a more effective goal planning system but encompasses all the tools necessary to effectively assess, produce positive feedback and create daily, weekly and monthly action plans for a clear “Vision” of how a skater can reach their dream goals.  Working towards a big goal can be like navigating through a dark tunnel, Mental Toughness Training & Goal Setting Tools are the “map and flashlight” you need to get to the other side of the tunnel, to that dream.

  • Having a “Vision” and setting goals is a necessary step in the athletic process, as it anchors the way an athlete will go about their training
  • Without a clear and challenging goal, training can become boring, a chore, aimless discomfort that doesn’t seem to have a purpose.
  • A concrete goal increases commitment to athletic struggles by increasing motivation.

The main reason athletes fail to accomplish their goals is due to a lack of planning and preparation.


  1. Setting a goal outlines the desired results, think “Map & Flashlight!”

The goals set should be specific and should detail the results intended, as well as a well “lit” path and plan on how those goals will be achieved.

Don’t let yourself or your young athlete fall into the trap of setting a non-specific goal like, “I want to skate better at the next competition.” Creating specific objectives is a life skill that young athletes will use for years to come – in sports, in school, and in other life situations.

  1. Setting a goal creates momentum.

Once you’ve set and written down a specific, achievable goal, you or your young skater will be able to measure his or her progress and, when motivated, will begin to try to achieve that goal.  Getting the assistance of a coach is highly suggested to assist in setting realistic goals and dealing with the technical aspects of the sport

  1. Setting a goal offers a vision of accomplishment.

One of the most important things having a goal does is to give any athlete a clear and vivid picture of what the desired outcome is. When an athlete can envision reaching and even surpassing his or her goal, the desire to achieve becomes stronger and some would even argue that it is easier for that goal to be reached and new, more challenging goals can be set moving the skater up the ladder to success.

  1. Setting a goal encourages accountability.

What happens when a young skater falls short or doesn’t reach his or her intended goal? This is where positive and effective feedback and re-analysis of the goal needs to take place to determine why a goal was not met and then a re-assessment of the goal and a “tweaking” of the plan.  What happens when he or she meets the goal and surpasses it with flying colors? Praise or reward! Of course!

Goals that are written down and expressed out loud to a coach, parent or trusted friend help make athletes accountable – no matter what the outcome – and goal setting and follow-through experiences provide the foundation for further progress, accomplishments and strong character building.

It also allows young athletes to realize that they can have some control over outcomes and results in other life situations, a fact that is vitally important as they mature.  Goal setting for young athletes give them a vision of what can be and creates an environment where achievement comes with rewards.

Great coaches will reiterate that experiencing small successes leads to the desire for larger successes and has the effect of motivating and pushing athletes to be their best and to continually improve and strive for greater heights.

Want More From Your Athletes?    Start S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal & Vision Planning Now!

But setting the goal is just the beginning. 

What do you do once you’ve decided to make your dream a reality?


Consider these questions as you plan for success:

  1. What physical, mental, technical and developmental skills do you need to improve?
  2. Write out these success instructions and define 1-2 goals for each practice to inch you closer towards your desired destination.

The key is to work your plan and have the commitment, attitude, and patience to make it happen! Think “Big Vision”, long game.

If you want help to create a more effective plan to make your dreams and goals a reality contact me: christine@figureskatingtraining.com

“It’s your dream and the only person that’s going to make it happen is you,” Ashley Wagner

“No matter what may come to deter you from reaching those dreams, she says, you need to stay focused on making those goals come to life.”

“If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen, but you have to tune out all the extra noise,” Wagner says.

“Pick some people’s opinions that you really appreciate and care about and beyond that, you need to make it happen yourself.”

Mental Toughness Training & S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal Setting can help you plan your goals and teach you the skills to deal with the mental part of the plan.

Don’t miss my Fearless Tip #5 next week!

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Christine Reeves Beleznay, CMTT, CLC.  CNLP      

     Certified Mental Toughness Trainer, Certified Life Coach,

     Certified Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner


If you have applied this tip in your skating practices & have found it helpful please send me an email at christine@figureskatingtraining.com

I would love to hear how it has helped you on your journey to becoming a fearlesscompetitor!  

If you like my tips and would like to take your mental toughness training to a whole new level check out “WORK WITH ME” on my website:  www.figureskatingtraining.com 

Send me an email at christine@figureskatingtraining.comwith what you are struggling with and I will tell you how I can help you overcome whatever your struggle!




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