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
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
- First identify what movement you will make once you get moving, in order to tell you skis what to do.
- Then ensure you only practice that on the least challenging slope for you – whatever that is.
- 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.