Monthly Archives: June 2019

Ski courses to help combat anxiety

Ski courses to help combat anxiety seem to be in short supply.  I’ve had some thoughts about this on practical ways you can help increase your self confidence.  If you take it a small bite at a time!

When you ski, sometimes be aware of your core and where it’s headed. *

The level of anxiety felt by skiers is a function of many influences, and one of them is how near to yourself are you looking?  How far beyond your ski tips is your focus of attention?

I think it’s a two-way thing.  If our perceptions of our situation make us anxious, then we tend to focus our eyes nearer and nearer to our ski tips.  At the same time, the nearer to our ski tips we look, the less relaxed we become.  It’s a positive feed-back loop.

I can remember being on a skiing course with Sally Chapman donkey’s years ago when I was learning.  While static she got me to very closely examine the tips of my skis – every scratch, every dimple.  Took ages.  Then she said – “Right! Now you know what they look like, stop inspecting them as you ski!”  My daughter does show-jumping for fun and says her trainer says the same about her horse’s ears ! Continue reading

The best way nervous skiers can improve their skiing

The best way nervous skiers can improve their skiing is to seek out easy slopes and become skilful on those before you move on. Some helpful stuff on Skiing for seniors

Best way nervous skiers can improve their skiing

Clean, economical, skilfull skiing

I know this sounds like an obvious point, but people don’t do it.  I continue to search for the reasons why they don’t.  The skier in the picture is extremely proficient – a near perfect example of doing it well.  Also note that he is on a gentle slope.  It’s not me, but if he’s like me, this excellence seeps away as things get steeper, lumpier and bumpier!

Skiers spend sometimes quite a long time in ski schools, yet often do not have confidence they really know what to actually DO when on their own.

Disenchanted with ski schools for various reasons they wrongly conclude that the way forward is to venture forth all over the mountain.   The hope is that “getting the miles in” will provide the improvement they want.  Hope over expectation.

So what would work better?

The best way nervous skiers can improve their skiing is to be more methodical.  Learn how skill is developed.  You really do have the ability to become a skilful skier, you just need the right process.

There are two basic conditions for acquiring skill:

  • an environment that is sufficiently regular to be predictable
  • an opportunity to learn these regularities through prolonged practice

Ski schools always start you off on beginner slopes.  Quite right too.  They make two typical mistakes thereafter – firstly they seem to fail in most cases to inculcate what you need to DO in order to control your skis.  They try, they give demonstrations, they tell what to do in a command style of teaching but frequently that seems to fail.

Secondly they have a tendency to move you onto steeper slopes too soon rather than too late.

For practice to be effective you need an environment – the slope and snow quality – to be absolutely predictable and non-frightening.  If it isn’t, your attention will be scattered to the four winds.  That’s one of the reasons that ski pistes are groomed.

Some environments are worse than unpredictable.

The difficulties presented by steeper slopes often surprise.  Going onto them – especially if you take them on in one big chunk, all the way down – will likely give you too many challenges.

It isn’t only the steepness.  Steeper slopes challenge everybody as well.  Not all of them will be good skiers.  Mediocre skiers cut up steeper slopes and make them lumpy and “scraped” and irregular, and unpredictable.  None of this is what you need, thank you very much!

For any skier, never mind nervous skiers seeking to improve, you can only develop skill by sensing the feedback your environment gives you.  So you need the feedback and you need sufficient spare attention capacity to be aware of the feedback.

Daniel Khaneman, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, Thinking,Fast and Slow (you can get it second hand for £2:42 which is a disgrace – it’s worth a fortune) quotes learning to use the brakes on your car.  You gradually mastered the skill of taking curves, and this involved learning when to press the brake pedal, when not to, when to lift off, and how hard to depress it.

As he says -“the conditions for learning this skill are ideal, because you receive immediate and unambiguous feedback every time.  The mild reward of a comfortable curve or the mild punishment of one that proves difficult because you got it wrong”.

It all depends on the quality and the speed of the feedback.  Try learning that driving skill on icy roads and the process may take longer than you hoped.

A simple “rule of three”.

The best way nervous skiers can improve their skiing is

  1.  First identify what movement you will make once you get moving, in order to tell you skis what to do.
  2.  Then ensure you only practice that on the least challenging slope for you – whatever that is.
  3. Constantly work to be aware of what you feel as you do it.  Don’t think! It’s not about thinking, good practice is about feeling.

Hope this helps, there’s loads more in other posts here, and on my website.

Bob

 

 

Best ski course for older skiers

Best ski course for older skiers – how would they differ from other skiing courses?

Everything is possible for older skiers

This marvelous picture comes courtesy of Senior Skiing

I have been coaching over 50s skiers for over 25 years.  I have had a great deal of success with it and VERY few failures – maybe three in all that time.  Older, indeed old, skiers can achieve far more than many of them realise.

I’m not talking about suddenly becoming a top-rate back-country skier, but I’m certainly talking about becoming a flowing, low-effort, confident and skilful one.  That is perfectly do-able even for skiers who were given a bad start, and have spent years less good than they want to be.

It’s not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Furthermore it’s not true that you need to be a “one-trick pony” either – you can develop all kinds of different ways to ski.

Best ski course for older skiers ? What should it be like?

Continue reading

Ski courses for skiers moving on to red runs

Ski courses for skiers moving on to red runs.  Here’s a surprise!

Shows the angle of a red ski run

Not as steep as you thought ?

This picture shows the approximate angle of inclination of red runs everywhere.   Ski resorts all of the world adhere to these protocols.  They have agreed angles – with small variations – for blue ski runs, reds, blacks, and of course green beginner slopes.

In my experience skiers find it surprising that, for example, a red run is no steeper than shown.  They always seem steeper when you are skiing on them, and even steeper than that when you are standing at the top.

What can we learn from this picture?

Continue reading

Confidence building skiing courses

Confidence building skiing courses are pretty much what I do.

One legged skier demonstrating confidence

David Swedlow demonstrating confidence

Many of the ideas from which my approach developed came from The Mental Game Plan co-authored by  Chris Shambrook Ph.D.

One of the key limitations to making progress is impatience.  It is too easy to fall into the trap of not taking the longer view.  You can help yourself enormously if you take a step back and look at your progress from a wider perspective.

I wrote a self-coaching “white paper” in 2006 on the topic of skiing courses, and how to approach them to help build confidence- I think you will enjoy it; find it here

Many pupils say things like “I ought to be able to do this by now” or “I ought to be better”.  That is nonsense, there is no reason at all why any of us should be any better at anything than we currently are.  Our life history has led us to this point.

There is no such thing as failure – you just keep going.  And all that matters is first of all to enjoy the process – that’s much more important than the outcomes.  And then to do what you can to change what you’ve got.

The effect of impatience

My strong belief is that any confidence building skiing courses worth their salt should emphasise the process, and not the outcomes.  If you focus on outcomes you may well miss the enjoyment of the learning process.

Years ago I used to teach children skiing for a company that took parties of school kids to the Alps for a week.  At the end of the week the children got a badge.  Unfortunately they all knew this, so their prime concern on day 1 was “What badge will I get?  Will it be 1 star, 2 stars, ..4 stars?”

This ruined the week for a lot of them.  They scarcely noticed each day’s skiing, fixated as they were on badges and being compared to others.  So all week was spoiled, then at the end they either got the badge they hoped for – in which case spoiling the week was pointless;  or they didn’t – which doubled up on the grief!

Never mind the final outcome – enjoy the process, you’ll get more out of it.

I’d welcome any feedback from you if you’ve signed up to the blog, so you can join in.