How practicing is like training for the olympics

by Katrina VanTyne

olympicsI love watching the Olympics. It doesn’t matter who wins the gold, it always brings tears to my eyes when an athlete gets awarded their medal on the podium.

Though I can’t claim to be anything close to an Olympic athlete (though I did mountain bike race in my youth),  I can attest to knowing what goes into the training it takes to be good at something you love.

Performing is like competing, in that there is always pressure for you to do your best when you step out onto that stage. That’s why practicing for a gig is like training for the Olympics. You want to put your best foot forward whether it’s for a medal or the mere satisfaction of putting on a great show. The training techniques are much the same.

  • Visualize Success – Erin Hamlin (first US medalist in the luge) said in an interview that she keeps a journal of every track she’s on so when she competes on that track she can visualize where the curves and bumps are. Before stepping out on stage spend some time visualizing yourself performing in front of an audience. Practice what you’re going to say between tunes, envision yourself playing the tunes perfectly and giving a great performance.
  • Determine Goals –  Mike Colburn of Stowe Mountain Resort said in an interview with the local news that when Ty Walker was little she said she was going compete in the Sochi Olympics. Though she didn’t receive a medal this time around, she did make it there just as she had planned. Determine your goals as a musician. Is it a short performance at a local open mic night that you want to perform in or do you want to play in Carnegie Hall? Determine your goals and then make a plan to get there.
  • Prepare – Some say to become an Olympic athlete you must train 20 hours per week for a period of eight years. Some also say that to become an accomplished musicians you must practice for 10,000 hours. Either way, preparing and practicing for your moment is key. The more prepared you are the more successful you will be.
  • Don’t Give Up – Though Shaun White had a disappointing Olympics this time around, he mentioned in an interview with Matt Lauer that he plans to come back to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. We all have bad performances every now and then, but learn from it and move on. Get back on the horse as they say and try it again.

Applying the same techniques as an Olympic athlete to your own training can only enhance your skills and help build your confidence as a musician. Though you might not be expecting a gold medal at the end of a musical performance,  feeling like you gave the performance of a lifetime can feel much the same.


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