by Margaret Amory
United States Figure Skating’s (USFS) recent “Get Up” campaign states “we all fall. It’s how we get up that matters.” This campaign outlines the importance of perseverance throughout the world of figure skating and the implications of such in our life lessons. In synchronized skating, however, we take it one step further. In the wise words of Robert Ingersoll “we rise by lifting others.” Being a member of synchronized skating is not about being just an individual skater with skill. Knowing yourself as a skater is critical to the sport, but knowing and being with your teammates is what makes synchronized skating unique. It allows for us to go one step further and lift others, both on and off the ice.
According to Christopher Bergland of The Athlete’s Way, “perseverance is the key to success in sports, competition and life.” Perseverance is often believed to be the pursuit of continued effort despite difficulties or failures. There are many who believe perseverance separates the winners from the losers in both sports and life. So, how do you find perseverance? Is it something innate? Is it something you acquire? Interestingly, Christopher Bergland believes it is naturally found in all of us. While skill on the ice may or may not be natural, most neuroscientists will tell you dopamine is. This natural phenomenon is often referred to by neuroscientists as the human chemical that helps to fuel motivation and perseverance. This natural biological reward reinforces us and assists us in accessing individual perseverance. There is even a belief that individuals have the ability to increase their natural level of dopamine by changing their behaviors and attitude.
Being a member of a team has a similar effect to that of the all-natural dopamine. Working with others and learning to depend on one another is critical in the sport of synchronized skating – but this does not come without sacrifice. You may find you are the one who has to give by extending your hand to the skater who needs to “get up”. You might even be the skater who shares an extra pair of laces, is the one who is knocked off your edge by a wobbly teammate or the one who pulls your dress off your back for another skater to compete in. You just may be the coach who gives away their contact lens for a skater to compete in when they lost theirs during practice ice. Persevering as a teammate is equally, if not more important, as the perseverance it takes to train as a synchronized skater.
Perseverance, however, does not come without effort. Simply put, you cannot be a successful synchronized skater and teammate without it. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, explains “no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” As a synchronized skater, our efforts are not felt by us as individuals but by team members who may be skating at the end of the spiral line, the team member who is holding up another skater as they call the steps, or the skater skating through the correct opening in an intersection. The effort put forth as a member of a team is critical when working toward accomplishments. This includes the effort on the ice as well as the effort off the ice.
Synchronized skating is the ultimate blend of figure skating skill and teamwork. In no other discipline found in figure skating, are you more dependent upon your teammates than when a member of a synchronized skating team. USFS says “getting up is something you do in the rink and out in the world. Every time you go to practice. Every time you fight for something you believe in. Every time you hesitate but pull through. Every time you stumble and find your balance you are reminded that life is slippery. But you get up.” As an individual, yes, you may choose to “get up”. As a synchronized skater, you have no choice other than to “get up”. If you are unable to, rest assured, you have a teammate who will extend a hand to you. Synchronized skating provides a network of teammates that help you “get up” both on and off the ice. These teammates, past, present and future, will always be by your side ensuring you will be one step closer in the quest to reach your potential.
Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. Print.
@PsychToday. “The Neuroscience of Perseverance.” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.
“We Get Up.” Get Up. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.