Ski in Control is the title of my about-to-be-published new book. At last!
I am just waiting for a rejection letter from the final publisher. Once I have that I can go ahead with publishing it myself on Kindle and other platforms ! Provided I can summon up the relevant expertise – it’s a bit of a slog.
This extract just introduces how it goes about its job of helping skiers Ski In Control on any piste, anywhere, any conditions. Which is what most skiers want, and few skiers fully achieve. But which it is my belief all could.
I recently came across a quotation by Mahatma Ghandi –
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your destiny
It took me years to realise that you will never develop skillful controlled skiing – or anything else physical – by watching an expert do it. Or looking at pictures of experts doing it.
Ghandi’s observation may seem at first a little high-falutin’ for a book on skiing, but all my ski coaching experience shows it is fundamental to changing your skiing. Let’s work our way back up it from the bottom.
We each of us have a way in which we ski. Good, bad or indifferent that’s what we’ve got. The kind of skiing we presently do has become our skiing destiny. It is that way because of the habits we have developed both physical and mental – the things we do, the way we do them and what we think, about skiing and about ourselves.
We express our thoughts in words for the most part. Sometimes to others, sometimes just inside our heads. And our thoughts about skiing are encapsulated in our beliefs both about the activity itself, and perhaps more importantly about our selves. Oftentimes they can be unjustifiably limiting self beliefs.
Anybody can learn to ski in control on any piste anywhere.
Anybody can become a skilled, controlled skier. Anybody. It is nonsense to suppose that only “born athletes” (there is no such thing) can do it. The potential to become a first rate skier does not suddenly atrophy when you get to forty. Neither is it closed off to you if you are born female, nor if you’re not young. Anybody can do it and it is never too late. What you need is a better style of teaching and learning than most people get access to.
I was persuaded to put my ideas about skiing into a small book because I have coached (not instructed) skiers for some decades now and I’m happy to say have had hundreds of successes and only two or three failures. I define “success” by a pupil discovering they really could bring about a level of skiing skill they didn’t think was possible for them before they studied with me.
Much later in the book I will give you plenty of practical things you can do when you’ve got your skis on. For the time being I’m going to ask you to be patient. We’ll address the many other aspects of learning skiing, which take up more of the book’s space than the simple exercises.
I’m asking you this for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are plenty of books with pictures of how you ‘ought’ to ski, what to do ”in the bumps”, and so forth. No shortage of people telling you to “separate your upper body from your lower body” – an idea with good intent but a rather poor way of expressing it.
To Ski in Control what matters is what you feel.
What matters most is what you feel and what it means when you feel it. I call that “The Kneed to “Knowtice”, explained later. That requires considerable understanding of the processes that work best, not just the outcomes you’d like. And that offers a better understanding of the interaction between the ski and the snow, as you ski .
It is clear that for very many skiers, the way you have been taught has done little more than get you down slopes somehow. Usually with not too much damage, but with little predictability. Sometimes with less grace, and a slight sense of disappointment. Going home after your week’s skiing no better than you were last year. I have been surprised by the number of my pupils who were rather unsure why, when success occurred, it did occurr. It’s hard to attribute the success to ourselves if we are unsure how it came about.
“The Three Horrible Hurdles”:
Our rate of learning and improvement is retarded by …
- Bewilderment (what’s happening? Why did it/didn’t it happen, and so on?)
- Apprehension (what will happen if I cannot control this?)
- And self-denigration through internal monologues like describing our experiences to ourselves as “hopeless”, “not good enough”, “I ought to be better than this by now”, and a whole lot more.
The “instruction” method of teaching in ski schools jumps immediately to an exhortation to “follow me, and do what I do”. In my view that is jumping the gun. I understand why it happens, and I think it is inevitable. That gets you started but does not make you a skillful all-terrain skier. Nor will just “getting the miles in”.
I want this book to help those people who want to ski a great deal better than they have done so far. I aim my teaching at ..
- cutting out bewilderment by enabling you to learn what makes skiing happen. (Isaac Newton knew a thing or two about it),
- by minimising apprehension, through the use of the simplest practice techniques in the most appropriate terrain,
- and by changing the internal monologues that may well have been holding you back without your realising it.
Let me tell you what this ski book is not.
Most skiing books of my acquaintance are replete with photographs of the author, or some racer, skiing wonderfully. My skiing is not wonderful, so “Ski In Control™” does not contain any pictures of me .
You cannot learn much by looking at pictures, or watching someone else, especially if they are expert. Experts are doing things you can’t even see. You can get a general impression. No more. How much can you improve your tennis by watching Roger Federer?
As often as not, watching someone else skiing wonderfully used to just depress me; perhaps you found the same? Words are more important because our minds control our bodies, not the other way round, and it is by words that we communicate our experience of our universe.
Now let me tell you what the book is……