By Shannon Miller
It’s one year before the Olympic Games. You’ve been working so hard year after year and now you are months away from the opportunity to represent your country on the Olympic stage! Yes, the one-year mark can be exciting. For me, it was a short time of reflection and a perfect time to realign goals and map out the best strategy for not only making the team but then competing at a top level during the Games.
Photo by Lloyd Smith
It’s all about peaks and valleys. However, it’s not always as clear cut as we’d like. Last-minute injuries or lingering injuries, can throw a wrench into well-laid plans. Making sure you aren’t over, or under, training is critical and a fine balance. I typically did not add many, if any, new skills to routines after this twelve-month mark. The focus was to practice and compete the routines I would need on the day of the Olympics.
It’s important to note that we each have our individual way to make things work. I was a big fan of very little change between training and competition. For others, it adds a level of interest and excitement. We face different concerns and all kinds of hiccups along the way. And that’s why you have a plan A…and B and C…
This year is like a routine, if something goes wrong you must be able to easily move into the next skill without the judges even noticing. Worst case, you minimize the deduction and keep going. You can only do that if you have thought through every scenario ahead of time.Of course, we have to remember that each plan is individualized for each athlete. Work with your team (coaches, trainers, parents, etc.) so that everyone is on the same page.
Focus on the goal. And remember, the first goal isn’t the Olympic Games, it’s Olympic Trials. You can’t step onto the Olympic Stage without first qualifying. We often remark that it is harder to make the United States team than it is to compete at the Olympics! Once you make the team, competing at the actual Games is the icing on the cake. With so many amazing athletes vying for so few spots, the most important thing to remember one year out is to have your plan ready and execute that plan to the best of your abilities. And when something goes wrong, and it often does, be prepared to adjust and adapt as necessary. Above all, remember that it’s the work you do now, leading up to the event, that matters most. The work you do now, is what you rely on when you walk into that arena for the biggest gymnastics competition of your life.