“Knowing your numbers” helps figure skater Ryan Bradley stay sharp

Ryan Bradley spoke to LSY! sports editor Hailey Rose Gattuso, right, and teen editor Francesca Harvey before the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular in Jamestown, New York. The TV special airs on NBC at 1 p.m. Eastern, Sunday, Jan. 5. (Photo by Tim O'Shei)

Ryan Bradley spoke to LSY! sports editor Hailey Rose Gattuso, right, and teen editor Francesca Harvey before the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular in Jamestown, New York. The TV special airs on NBC at 1 p.m. Eastern, Sunday, Jan. 5. (Photo by Tim O’Shei)

When you put a problem into perspective, it often isn’t as big as it may seem — if you consider only what you can control, instead of what you can’t.

That’s the mindset that helped Ryan Bradley become one of the best figure skaters in the United States. Like every athlete, the 2011 National Champion has experienced mental slumps, some that lasted years.

“Our sport is very technical, so when things start to go awry it’s really easy to think that it’s just gone,” Ryan told LSY! at the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular, which airs on NBC at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Jan. 5. “Instead of just being able to fix it with something simple, you get overwhelmed by it and just think that it’s not there anymore.”

A professional athlete’s life is hectic. Things change, challenges arise and problem are presented that can’t be controlled. Ryan told us it helped when he learned to focus on factors he can control, like his workouts. He did this by keeping track of his progress in journals. He used a technique used by many successful athletes called “knowing your number.”

“For my coaches and I it was always about numbering the things that we did,” he said, “so that I’d have a finite number that I would hit and not go past, and not go under that number.”

(If you want to know more about the “know your number” technique, read the sport psychology book Mind Gym by Gary Mack.)

Through experience, Ryan also learned not to get down on himself or be overwhelmed by competition.

“Sometimes all that matters is that you’re the best that day,” he said.

To watch our full interview with Ryan, see the video below or click here to watch it on YouTube.

Hailey Rose Gattuso, LSY! sports editor, Mount St. Mary Academy

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