Your Level Is The Only One That Matters

As adult skaters, we’ve probably all been here… We step out onto the ice with a practice plan and positive thoughts only to leave moments later out of nervousness. Or maybe we feel of inadequate because we’re surrounded by skaters more advanced than us. Now, by leaving the session, we’ve overreacted and have gone and created a situation that was otherwise a non-issue.


This last May, I was out of town for a week and I made sure to bring my skates just in case I was able to find a local rink and get some practice time in. I found a nice rink, paid for my public skate pass, laced up– feeling confident that that would be the day I get my moving two-foot turn and forward crossovers– and I got on the ice.

Maybe public skate is different at this rink because — MY GOODNESS.

These skaters were throwing axels, doubles salchows, and triple lutz jumps! Sit spins! Camel spins! Scratch spins! I felt like I was in another world. A world I felt I wasn’t good enough to be part of. I’m trying to stay out of their way as I struggle to cross my foot over after 1/2 swizzle pumps. At this point, I’ve made myself as small as possible on the ice. Not moving from my little corner while practicing my two-foot turns in place.

I started being angry with myself for not being as good as them. So I got off the ice, sat down, and just watched. Only a whole 30 minutes passed before I let my insecurities of being an “adult skater” get the best of me! A new record! It’s not like anyone was mean to me or kicked me out. I bullied myself off the ice. That was $9.00 and an hour’s gas down the drain.

Changing My Thinking

In retrospect, I know that anger was an irrational reaction to that situation. I’m currently a level 5 adult skater and there are skaters now who look to me for help. Sometimes I’ll hear them talk down on themselves. I’m thankful to have had that experience in May because I am able to help them navigate those feelings. I can tell them, “Your improvement is the only thing that matters. You paid for this ice time. Get out here and practice.”

It’s important to remember that each and every one of us out there started out at level one. Whether we started as kids or as adults… Level one. Chastising yourself for not being better than the level you’re currently working on is understandable, but ridiculous. Being in the moment and focusing on your own practice is the only way to improve.

Shifting your perspective when you come to those feelings is key. There are some fantastic skaters at my rink. Instead of being intimidated, I now look to them as inspiration. I ask questions and applaud them after successful attempts of an element. I even applaud them after unsuccessful attempts because — at least they tried!

When I start to retreat into myself, my rink mates — the same people I used to cower before — pull me out and tell me to stop stalling and get to practice. And in turn, I do that for skaters I see retreating into themselves. The community is one of the best parts of skating. Use it to your advantage. We are all out here to be a little better than we were yesterday. <3

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt, probably
Your Level Is The Only One That Matters 1

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Alexa Blair Cochrane

    Ha ha ha, your final meme really speaks to me…because I am, in fact, an Adult LTS level 2 skater and got people doing sit spins and jumps all around me whenever I go to a session!

    1. zellybellie

      We’ve all been there! 😭 It sucks in the moment but it’s something to aspire to. 🙂

  2. madonice

    Oh man oh man oh man, PREACH IT, GIRL. I’m not kidding, it took me literally a year and a half to even work up the courage to start being a freestyle regular because I was so intimidated by how many wildly talented skaters are on that ice (including a national champion and a few Olympic skaters). And you know what? All I did was let my fear rob me of all that time I could have spent bettering myself as a skater AND miss out on finding one incredible community of adult skaters (and even some wonderfully kind skating moms and their sweetheart kids!) sooner. I’m definitely the lowest-level skater among my skating sisters, but you’d never know it because they treat me like I belong among them and come to me for advice and support just like I go to them. I still can’t believe our competitive sport is built on such a strong foundation of community. In the end, every skater belongs on freestyle ice, and all you have to do is strive to be a better skater than you were yesterday, and keep on getting up. Besides, as one of my favorite rink moms says: Our Olympic dreams are, statistically speaking, just as reasonable as most of these younger skaters’. 🙂 Keep on kicking ice! The adult skating community and Team AST are so lucky to have you! xo

  3. zellybellie

    Thank you so much for your kind words!! This sport is doing SO much more for me than just teaching me to skate, I’ve realized. We all have to confront the mental demons that get in the way of our progress. For me, the journey has been been both stressful and worth it. 🙂

  4. Geert Diels

    Inpsiring to read and so recognizable. 🙂 As an adult rollerskater I was in the same position: overweight, maie, age 49 with kids of 10-14 doing jumps, flips, salchow & waltz jumps in sequence. I couldn’t even do a backwards cross over properly. One girl 17 always came to me and said: you are a good skater, you are making progress.. and when I was sometimes frustrated, angry, shy and didn’t dare to skate, she was always there. Now these days I don’t care any more: people like how I skate: yes it is slow, yes it is not that flexible as 12-14 year old, yes it is technically not 100% correct. But I am doing forward, backwards, edges, 3 turns, a waltzjump, starting to use my arms, swings, little toe stop sequence, mohawksI do free style & dance (And Tango and other moves) skating. And this in less than 2 years. I am still frustrated sometimes, as I feel like not making enough progress despite the hours & hours & hours of practice. But I look back at where I came from, and I just LOVE watching people that skate better than me: learn learn learn, ask tips & tricks, the community of skaters is amazing ! Follow my endavours on insta: @

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