Control your skiing anxiety – learn from a champion.
“All you can do, Kate, is to be your best and let the results take care of themselves. Be your best, not necessarily the world’s best. It’s just another race, another start hut – and me”: Kate Pace. World downhill ski champion.
Anxiety inhibits skiing development for almost every skier in the world, not matter what their standard.
Anxiety and fear are not direct coupled. You can begin to become aware of being anxious long before you even go away to your skiing. You may find that fear tends to set in much nearer to the time you actually set off skiing.
Neither is restricted to the physical: they are not just the result of apprehension about some potential physical injury. Few skiers are actually physically afraid of injury. Anxiety is usually caused by psychological perceptions such as feeling “this slope is too much for me”, “my technique might not cope”, “what might happen?” Notice that these are very general, and never put under scrutiny.
What kind of anxiety?
Far too often, anxiety is self-generated by fears of “failing”, “looking a fool”, “making a mistake”, or “letting myself down”. The list is potentially endless – you could have some fun my starting your own list! Grab a pen and write down some of the daft self-talk you find going on in your head; once you see them, they lose their power to dominate.
Muscles tighten up prior to performance; you need to be able to relax them. There are many simple techniques for relaxing. You can easily do the following ones on the ski slope before you set off.
Stand still and become aware of your breathing.
Imagine the tensions flowing down your arms and legs away from your shoulders and neck, and flowing out of your fingers and toes.
Stand calmly, and stare into the distance in an unfocused way – then let yourself become aware of your extreme peripheral vision.
Long before you ski, think about situations in which you find negative self-talk going on in your head. Imagine those occasions and visualise yourself actually in them. Then call up your relaxation techniques and practice them as if you were there right now.
Employ practical self-talk techniques
Try Positive Self Talk techniques from some of my other modules and feed them into your imaginary scenarios too.
Control your skiing anxiety – Use your imagining ability to “run the movie” of you performing well under these pressure situations: why not? It’s free, harmless, it works, and it’s yours. What’s more, the very best skiers in the world do it.
When you’re doing these practices in your own home, play your favourite calming music. And colour your movie in your favourite calming colours. Imagine the warm relaxing water of the Carribean lapping your skin – calming thoughts – dusky maidens – tall dark strangers – ooh err !