Get Motivated

An Interview with Champion Figure Skater Michael Weiss - Part Two


Michael Weiss, a two-time National Champion, World Bronze Medalist and Olympian talks with Dr. Caroline Silby about his perspectives on motivation for this two-part series. Missed last week? Catch up on the first part of the interview.

On Using Motivation to Turn Obstacles into Challenges:

When you go to compete you are often distracted by so many other things. But that deep inner motivation is always there. It just comes out of you when it's time to do it. The one thing I've learned is that confidence doesn't really have a huge impact on whether I skate well or not. I've had great six minute warm-ups and then gone out and skated poorly. I've done the exact opposite - had a bad warm-up and skated great. So, confidence doesn't really play a huge role in being successful in a specific event. I've noticed that being motivated and determined [does]. I said months ago that I was going to win Nationals. That's been my goal in my mind every single day. That was what I was going to do no matter what. I hit huge hurdles when I was at Nationals. I split my chin open, I wasn't skating really well, I had a bad short program...all these things. The one thing that stayed constant was that I was motivated and determined to win.

On Developing Motivation:

People can learn what motivates you, learn who you are and learn what pushes you so they can push those buttons for you on a daily basis. If you never find what those motivations are, it's frustrating. I went through a stage that I didn't know what was pushing me and why was I doing this. Was I doing it because I wanted to skate well? Was I doing it because I wanted to make money? I didn't really know. Lisa [my wife] kind of figured out what pushed my buttons and reminds me of those everyday.

On Knowing Why You Do It

It's plain and simple when you're little. You skate because you like it and you want to skate well because you want to feel good about yourself. And then, there are just so many other distractions and outside things that come into play the higher you get. There's the money issue, the show issue, agents, judges, the [figure skating] association, the music, television. There are just all these things and sometimes you just have to smack yourself in the face and pick one of them - the one that motivates you and focus on that.

Michael's Tips for Staying Motivated

I credit my long-time coach, Audrey Weiseger, with understanding my learning style and helping me to stay focused on how to meet my goals. I recommend setting goals and keep reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish. There are periods of time where I feel unmotivated and wonder, "Oh, my gosh. Can I do this for another year?" If figure skating success was based solely on mental strength, the answer would have to be a resounding yes.

About Caroline Silby

Caroline Silby, Ph.D., M.Ed holds a Doctorate and Master Degree of Sports Psychology from the University of Virginia. Her specialty is performance enhancement with adolescent athletes and she's worked with Olympic Champions in gymnastics and figure skating. As an elite athlete, Dr. Silby was a member of the National Figure Skating Team.

She later served on the U.S. Figure Skating Association Board of Directors and Athlete Advisory Council. Dr. Silby was appointed to the US Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council, Collegiate Sports Council and Finance Committee.

Currently, she assists the Women's Sports Foundation as a member of their Advisory Council and is a faculty member of both the USA Gymnastics and the US Figure Skating Association training camps. Dr. Silby is working on her first book titled, Games Girls Play to be published by St. Martin's Press in 2000. She resides in Washington, D.C. and has an active national practice.


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