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!
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 !
So what has an apple core to do with skiing with less anxiety?
Take a look at this ski racer. Notice how far ahead he is looking.
Surprisingly the level of anxiety of this skier will be quite high – for him there’s a lot a stake, not least the possible integrity of his limbs! At those speeds he has no choice but to look a long way ahead. But if he didn’t then the aforementioned feed-back loop would rapidly develop.
I do a lot of ski courses to help combat anxiety – there are many ways to reduce it – this is just one of them.
When we are developing our knowledge of what precise movements we need to make to get our skis to go where we want, our concentration is on our feet, ankles, slope of our back and so on. Very internal. And needfully so a lot of the time. But not all of the time.
Having an external focus.
In addition we can hugely benefit by at least some of the time having a more external focus. And what can help that is looking further ahead. But on its own this won’t help. We need to then rely on our feelings. What do we feel? What does it help us become aware of ?
I find that when I do this I immediately begin to feel more relaxed; more free-flowing. Less intensely focused on the “here and now”. I wondered why.
It is because when I deliberately do that, I become far more aware of what dancers call their central “core”. Physics scientists would call it their centre of mass. A second huge benefit is that at the same time I become aware of the sinewy pathway down the piste that my core is taking.
It’s not the pathway my skis are taking. They are snaking down a completely different “line” – much wider pathway. They have to in order for the “push” coming up from the snow to keep my core on the pathway it’s on.
So if you’re looking for ski courses to help combat anxiety – this is one you can do for yourself. Pick an easy and well-groomed piste of course. Before setting off decide what your intention is. Decide how you will know, moment by moment what you are actually getting. Perhaps pick a distant target to look at, and then set off and find out if you can feel your core snaking down the piste and what kind of a line it takes.
Once you get that feeling you’ll never want to let it go.
* (Photo courtesy of “Free Art”) Free Art