Life after the rink
Amanda Bertsch performs in a product manager role at Stryker and is a former National Figure Skater. We caught up with her to understand the life-long lessons she's learned from her professional skating career.
"The 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships just concluded this past weekend, and this time of the year always makes me reminisce about my competitive days. This championship was special because it was in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan, where my skating journey began. It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and training mates and to reflect on the large influence skating has had on my life.
Today, I rarely frequent the ice and my professional career is completely detached from the world of figure skating, but the 10,000+ hours of training weren’t for nothing. Skating taught me life-long lessons and made me realize that it will always be worth it to excel in something (athletics or otherwise) when you’re young. I hope this encourages both families and athletes to always strive for the best because time well spent is never time wasted."
Here are 5 lessons Amanda has learned from skating and has carried into her professional career.
Discipline and time management
"I trained 6 days a week all year long. My daily schedule looked something like this: 30 min warm up off ice, 3 hours on ice, 1 hour off ice, 30 min of stretching. Then throw in some ballroom dance, modern dance, conditioning, and ballet. All this while juggling school and coaching during the latter years. Skating made me realize it is possible to do it all; it just takes planning and focus. Don’t just take my word for it! Nathan Chen is arguably the world’s strongest men's skater, all while attending Yale. There is so much value in a goal-oriented, measurable approach and the feeling of accomplishment is so exhilarating. To this day, one of my greatest highs is my finish after the 2012 US Figure Skating Championships."
"Garbage in, garbage out. That was the lesson we lived by when it came to nutrition and sleep. This is the foundation for success. Through simply eating and sleeping properly, I maximized my energy and capabilities, and lowered the chance of injury. Even throughout college I maintained 8 hours of sleep and never pulled an all-nighter. The importance of sleep and proper diet are two things I will never take for granted."
"Skating has taught me a lot about failing gracefully and picking myself back up with a smile (sometimes all too literally). It has taught me the right mentality and humility to approach challenges with. Even today, when I am asked to think of a time I had to overcome failure and disappointment, missing nationals by less than a tenth of a point, but then coming back the very next year to win Sectionals (the qualifier for Nationals) comes to the top."
Mind over body
"When you see skaters at Nationals or the Olympics “bomb” their performance, most of the time it’s not because they physically can’t do it or they haven’t been disciplined in their training. It’s because they mentally can’t get their body to repeat at competition what they’ve done in practice countless times; we call it a mental block and it happens a lot. Skating has taught me about how I think, how I react in pressure situations, and how I can overcome or leverage my body’s natural reaction to adrenaline. Thanks to competing, I have a certain mental fortitude. This transfers to all walks of life, most of which are significantly easier compared to the pressure on the ice."
"Most of us who put in the time and effort will not become the "world’s best" and that is far from failure. The skills I’ve learned above and the mental models I’ve developed, have set me up for success in all areas of my life. Following the 2012 Championships, I officially retired from competing and went on to study biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and am now working on medical technology at Stryker. And this isn’t just me. All of my colleagues and peers from the rink who haven’t gone off to the Olympics are earning gold medals in their own professions. The people I knew on the ice are now going on to become doctors, financial advisers… and, of course, coaches, inspiring the next generation of athletes."