Updated: Jun 21, 2020
SKIING WITH CONFIDENCE
This is a topic that I have addressed on many previous occasions, but I feel one can almost never over-do it. It is what most enhances our pleasure when we ski. Without it, skiing can be just miserable.
Having confidence is not something handed out to us from some external source. There is no point waiting for it to arrive. It might do so, but it could take forever. In truth the only source of confidence, or self-confidence lies within us. To become more confident – in anything , but especially something physical and having some risk – we have to generate it.
And you were born with everything you need already within you, to achieve anything you want. What we don't come with is an instruction book, so we have to learn how to access it.
Like so many things this is virtually impossible if you don't have a plan; if you don't understand at least some of the components required. Hoping is not a strategy. Confidence is affected by many things, and you can do much to improve your own.
Much of skiing is simple; some is complicated; some is complex, and much of what is complex is us and the ways in which our brains work.
Let's imagine that we have a skier who copes very well on blue runs, pretty much all of them, though not quite so well when the light gets bad, and often feels insecure and lacking in confidence on reds.
What are some of the key influences on his confidence levels? These include -
Your physical condition.
Your current psychology or perceptions about (your) skiing
The quality and robustness of your technique
Your “tactical” ability
And from my thirty odd years of ski teaching I would say the single most important attribute is your understanding of the process. And the great thing is, it makes it more fun!
You will get hugely more satisfaction (and high quality results) from your skiing if you have a degree of understanding about fitness and your physical condition; an appreciation of your own psychological responses to your skiing situations; a high level of understanding of skiing technique and how to become more skilful; and more developed “tactical” approaches to immediate skiing situations.
All of these need understanding, and time spent on them will repay you many times over. What's more – my favourite theme – you do not need to even be on a snow slope or in a skiing resort to improve every one of them. Some of them need nothing more than thinking about.
PERCEPTION – EMOTION – TECHNIQUE
I have addressed in other posts this “P-E-T” concept. Those posts are still available they should not be hard to find on the site. On this occasion let's address the issue with respect to your physical condition. At the risk of boring you, I'll repeat that this concept, developed within the English Ski Council, tells you what happens in practice, it's not just theoretical.
If you perceive that a particular piece of snow slope is terribly steep and dangerous – and remember that the skier next to you may well not think the same, even though it's the same slope – then you may find your pulse rate increases, your sweat rate increases, your muscles tense-up, your peripheral vision reduces, and your ability to think straight deserts you. Those are your emotions.
You are the possessor of a level of technical ability in skiing. It may or may not be that on this particular imagined slope your technique will be adequate for a safe descent. Whether it is or not, is not at issue here: we are concerned with your perceptions.
We have imagined a situation in which your perception has affected your emotions. Now consider the effect these emotions (tense muscles etc) may affect your ability to execute your skiing technique to its best level. Deleteriously, probably, wouldn't you say?
So if you decide to set off on this imagined slope, your now-constrained technical ability is likely to lead to a less satisfactory performance from your skis. You may find that initiating a new arc – which has to flow into the slope line at some point – becomes less positive, and the outcome less stable. This engenders a confirmation of your initial perception irrespective of whether that perception was justified. You've “talked yourself into it” as we say.
HOW FIT ARE YOU?
We have imagined a snow slope that you found scary. Why did you find it scary? Because you were unsure that you would be able to “handle” it. Simple!
Why might you think you may not “handle” it? One possibility is that you do not have faith in the fact that you really know, and can readily produce the requisite movements you will need to make whilst in motion – i.e. your technique.
There could be another reason; nothing more complex than your level of fitness. Since we have chosen to imagine a slope that is on the edge of your abilities, it will perforce be one that will be more physically challenging.
If it is steeper than your usual, or longer, or less well-pisted it will require either or both of more strength and more stamina. If it's off-piste or is powder snow rather than pisted, compacted snow, likewise it will be physically more challenging.
WHAT HAS THIS TO DO WITH CONFIDENCE?
A lot skiing can be done without great strength or stamina. Gentle slopes. Short slopes, Slopes skied slowly – higher speeds generate greater forces which needed greater strength and if prolonged need greater stamina and shorter recovery times.
But as you get better technically, you will find that while improved technique makes skiing a lot easier at your current level, you will probably want to ski a little steeper, a little longer, a little faster. Most folk enjoy making progress.
So while you technique made yesterday's skiing so much easier, now you have lifted your aspirations, technique alone will not suffice. Now you will need to address the physical aspects because now – in our imagined scenario – your confidence is being challenged again and the answer is greater fitness in this instance. You've got a better technique but it's not enough on its own.
When you know you are fitter, guess what? You will have more confidence in having a good chance of “handling” this slope. And that has huge benefits.
With that enhanced self-confidence, which you have justly earned, your perceptions will have changed ( we have chosen to imagine so ). With those new perceptions and an enhanced self-belief will come greater control over your emotions.
And with less interference from those emotions you will have an enhanced likelihood of being able to deliver the better technical elements that convert the previous “death-spiral” version of Perception-Emotion-Technique, into a virtuous loop – each reinforcing its following element.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
I'll put money it – you'll grow in stature. You'll feel better about yourself. You'll see new opportunities opening up. You'll go looking for the next step up.
You will have a better holiday and you will be happier. It's just the way we are!
Fun, isn't it? Even in your imagination. Imagination is a marvelous thing
If you need assistance on more ski related topics you can take a look at my free videos on YouTube there are playlists available of every topic, just about.