Ski lessons to help combat nerves are in short supply. Most ski instruction is a bit too “gung-ho” for many folk particularly for women skiers, but for male ones too.
As a trained observer I frequently see folk skiing in ways which make it clear their performance is being affected by (possibly unrecognised) anxiety – men or women. The main causes of this are two fold – first of all they do not have an expressly clear idea of what movements to make, and furthermore they do not have an instantly recogniseable feedback system that tells them what is actually happening. Confusion reigns.
The picture above is a perfect example of clarity in feedback. It gives you an instant picture of what is about to happen – you’re going to come to some roadworks. You need to do something, like slow down.
Why do skiers get nervous?
Above all skiers get nervous because they don’t know what is happening so they don’t know what might happen.
This is the fault of a ski instruction system that has never done enough to help you understand skiing. Skiing is not a natural human behaviour, you need to learn it. Without understanding it that is virtually impossible to learn anything, never mind something with the potential to scare you.
So, before you do something you need to prepare for it, and before you prepare for it you need to understand it. I explain this a little more fully on page 4 of my book “Ski In Control” (link).
In this post I am going to investigate feedback.
Feedback – negative or positive.
In our social world negative feedback is regarded as – well, negative. So we don’t like it. But in your skiing things are different; the meaning is different. Negative feedback is the one you want.
Take the picture above again – the person who placed the sign there believed it was likely you’d be travelling faster than was appropriate for the upcoming circumstances. It gave you negative feeback which modified your behaviour, you slowed down.
Had the feedback to your speed been positive, you’d have accelerated even more.
So feedback when you are skiing is absolutely essential for the appropriate modification of your behaviours (the things you do). In ski lessons to combat nerves your teacher needs to find ways of helping become aware of what is happening under your feet.
How the universe communicates with you.
We live in the universe. As a result in order to continue to exist within it we need to communicate with it. We only have five ways to do that. We can hear it; taste it; smell it; see it; or feel it.
When you are skiing, smelling it and tasting it are not adviseable. That leaves seeing, feeling and hearing.
Odd though it may seem hearing is at times not only a pleasant way of experiencing our skiing but a functional one as well. But of course seeing and feeling are much the most useful most of the time.
Our brains are primarily committed to seeing. This is slightly unfortunate in the context of skiing because it tends to take precedence over and shut out feeling. And feeling is more useful when you are skiing. Indeed if you want to combat nerves, then concentrating on what you feel is not only functional – it’s essential.
Importantly everything that matters when you are skiing is about the interface between the sole of your ski, and the snow surface. Everything! And you can’t see it! If you also don’t feel it, you won’t have much of a clue as to what is going on. Which is why you get nervous – you’re in unknown territory.
There is much more about this in my book – http://bobski.com/blog/ski-in-control-any-piste-anywhere/#more-470
Problem with ski instruction.
In your search for ski lessons to help combat nerves you will find problems with the regrettably unchanging model of ski “instruction” delivered by ski schools and the instructors provided for them by the organisations that ‘qualify’ them.
Another underlying problem is that they are trained to believe that the best way to help you learn and overcome your nerves, is to watch them. They perform some skiing technique – perhaps perfectly with things going on you won’t even be able to see – and you are supposed to learn it by watching them. This immediately shuts down any hope that you will feel anything.
High quality teaching does the opposite – it suggests some small movement you could attempt (on an easy slope) and also suggests that before you set off, you have a plan; you know what you intend; AND you decide before hand what you will feel and how you will feel it.
Progress initially may be slow, but you are not in a race. The key thing is – it will be certain. It will enable you to combat your nerves and you will be less anxious. Evenually you won’t be anxious at all.
And one further point.
Ski schools through no fault of their own start off at a disadvantage – they meet you on the slope. So if you’re looking for ski lessons to help combat nerves, by then it’s too late to help you prepare yourself.
Some ideas on how you might can be found here – http://bobski.com/blog/best-mental-state-skiing/