Episode 4: Natallia Berdnikava

Playing on the world stage as an athlete requires a tough mental game, deep work ethic and resilience. Natallia Berdnikava, world champion water skier and the first woman to jump over 190 feet, exemplifies all of these qualities and she’s willing to share her best thinking on performance. We talk in depth about everything from how to control your negative thoughts, how to visualize success, the keys to making experience count and the value of recovery. Plus, this conversation has a bonus, as she compares living in Belarus to the freedom of living in the United States.

Enjoy the many useful insights you can take away from this conversation. 

·       Tells about her journey from Belarus to the United States 
·       Started as a gymnast 
·       Learned to trick ski in a pool 
·       The obligations of athletes in Russia because the government sponsors them 
·       Had no vacations because she had to stay dedicated to the sport – which deeply taught her work ethic 
·       Parents encouraged her to move to America because it’s “better for human beings” and because of the freedom 
​·       Compares some of the differences in culture between the two countries 
·       Towels are a luxury 
·       The source of her mental toughness in a sport that’s very fast and very unforgiving 
·       How to control nerves and how her mental preparation helped her  
·       The two vital things she thinks about when starting a slalom ski pass 
·       The role of visualization, meditation, breathing, and journaling in her mental game 
·       Starting with feeling your body to create a useful visualization 
·       Listens to meditations in Russian – some for getting motivated or getting rid of bad thoughts 
·       Nothing better than breathing 
·       The value of experience and how to capture the value of every experience, whether you achieved the goal or not 
·       What a learning mindset looks like under the pressure of performance 
·       Had a huge desire and motivation to become better 
·       “How to become titanium on the dock” 
·       Her inner fire was stoked by her dad – do things 100%, her choice, her decision. Does things from her inner high standards 
·       The extremely high work ethic because of how much she loves water skiing – and the great feeling inside 
·       Waterskiing “life makes sense” 
·       Her goals for this year considering her recovery from injuries 
·       How she values recovery 
·       How she finds balance between recovery and practice and what has happened over time when she over-practiced 
·       A method for controlling her thoughts – the most difficult skill she has learned 
·       We talk about how our thoughts can run us instead of us running our thoughts – and what to listen to and what to ignore 
·       The four questions to reverse thoughts that run you 
·       How to have balance under pressure 
·       The difference between productive thoughts and unproductive thoughts 
·       You can come and train with the best in the world 
·       Her requests for her audience: Do it 100%, Do it for yourself, Don’t worry about what other people think 
·       Her last advice: Don’t wait on getting training from a coach – too many people think they should be able to do it on their own. 

In the year 2004, the Belarus native moved to the United States in pursuit of furthering her education. While attending the University of Louisiana Monroe, Natallia represented her beloved country on the water ski team by  bringing home a 3rd in the jump event  at the U.S. Open,  a 3rd place finish at the European Championship as well as silver and bronze medals at the World Championships. In addition, she also took home the gold at one of water skiing’s most prestigious events, the U.S. Masters. Following these wins in 2008 Natallia graduated from the University of Louisiana Monroe with two degrees in both marketing and management. After completing her studies, Natallia continued to excel in her sport and her career started to soar. Natallia won the trick and jump events as well as claiming a 2nd place finish in the overall event at the U.S. Masters. In 2009 she became the World Trick Record Holder and the first female to trick over 9000 points. That same year she also won the European Championships.  Determined to outdo herself, Natallia  surpassed her own expectations and  became a four time World Champion and was 2011 Athlete of the year.  By 2012 Natallia had collected multiple U.S., European and Moomba Masters as well as Malibu open victories. She is the current World Overall Record Holder setting 8 world records in total. Most recently Natallia has managed to get on the podium at every event she has entered regardless of her multiple knee injuries. When asked about her success in the sport she gives credit to her two biggest fans, her mother and her brother. She also gives credit to Arkadiy Genov her coach from Belarus and Jack Travers her coach in the U.S. She would also like to acknowledge her sponsors Nautique Boats, Goodman Jump Skis and Camaro Wetsuits. Natallia recently mentioned that she would not be the person she is today without the unconditional support from her husband Jon and his family.  

You can find Nati at:  
Instagram: Natiski200 

Additional Subjects and Links mentioned in Episode

Nati’s world record jump of 192 feet in 2012 
Watch Nati trick ski 
Nautique boats 
Byron Katie 
Ball of Spray 
Learning to learn 
Abel Ski School 
Mystic Waters Farm 
Water Sports Central