Championships, as the major competition of the season, are typically
perceived to be the most important meet of the year. This results in an
increased pressure to succeed, both from within the racer and from external sources. Everyone’s hopes and expectations accelerate, leading
to performance anxiety. Championship season also includes greater involvement of a supporting cast, which increases the potential of distraction. Parents make a point of coming to the championships even if they
attend no other competition. The program director is often on hand — and
it’s usually the only time the athlete sees this official away from home.
Being prepared to have the best possible performance in this heightened
atmosphere requires preparation and thoughtful planning.
Here are some of the aspects that athletes should consider when con-
templating championship preparation:
Come in fit, healthy and rested. Make sure you’re ready for the cham-
pionship period from the perspective of your energy levels. Champion-
ships fall at the end of a season that for many juniors may have lasted
longer than three months. For many FIS racers the national champion-
ships in April come at the end of a season that began in October or No-
vember. Qualification for the World Juniors started in November. Bluntly,
it is a long competition season. As most young competitors are also still
developing physically and mentally as well as technically and strategi-
cally, the in-winter demands are high. Add an academic career and so-
cial demands to sport preparation and competition, and one of the major
considerations is going into a championship with high levels of physical
and mental energy. Optimal health, through attention to enough rest and
recovery time, is often overlooked. Take time to take care of yourself. Eat
right and get enough sleep. Spend your resources wisely.
Come in skiing at the highest level you can muster. Accomplish this
through sufficient in-season training. Junior racers are still developing
and refining their skiing skills both technically and for specific event tac-
tics. Enough high-quality training during the qualification period often
is overlooked in the temptation, or the requirement, to attend “just one
more” race. Coaches need to ensure that there is a good ratio of practice
time to competition time. There are many diverse components of a proper
training regimen ranging from ski play to race simulation. These need to
be interspersed with competitions throughout the winter. Travel to many
competitions in January and February often infringes upon or eliminates
skills refinement — with negative consequences come March.
How to make a
Attend a competition at the site
before it is the championship. Remove
the home-court advantage by making
the athlete familiar with the venue in
Practice and race with intensity
during the pre-championship period.
Learn and practice deliberate
competitive skills, and develop a
competition mindset on purpose; don’t
leave this up to trial and error.
Discuss the championship
environment with the athletes so they
know what to expect.
Give the parents the knowledge they
need to avoid becoming a distraction
or detriment to the performance of their
Emphasize the fun and enjoyment
aspects of the competition. It’s FUN to
be at a championship event, and it’s
important that the athlete enjoys the
experience above all else.