How to ski with confidence?


How to ski with confidence - It's like the Chicken and the Egg – which comes first?


There seems to be a prevalence amongst ski instructors and skiers generally for thinking that to ski well you need to be “confident”. I can recall seeing posters on ski school walls demonstrating that confidence was the key to success.


The idea is that somehow “confidence” can be generated by some magical, theoretical or psychological device. The dictionary defines confidence as:


“The feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something"


It seems to me that to suggest to a developing skier currently somewhat lacking in confidence – or self confidence – that they need to be more confident if they are to become better skiers, stands the whole issue on its head. It won't work, because it can't be done that way.


It's no good telling them “it's their fear that's holding them back”. If they are fearful they may be being highly rational. If something in my head is saying “Bob, you really don't want to be going down that gully, you'll kill yourself”. It may well be right!


Where might such a feeling come from, what might be its genesis? It is likely my well-developed gut-feeling serving me very satisfactorily. It's emotional, but may not be irrational. Forty million years' worth of human development and avoiding sabre-toothed tigers have contributed to it. My personal ancestors survived or those genes wouldn't have been passed down.


It is not their fear that is holding them back. Their fear is a product of something else – in this case quite likely wisdom. Something is telling them (look at the dictionary definition again) that they may well not be justified to “have faith in or to rely on … something”. That something is their level of technical prowess at skiing. It may be that their perception is incorrect, a good teacher will help them investigate that.


If you know that your level of skill in the techniques of skiing is equal to the challenge you are presently facing – you have proved it many times in the past – you will not be afraid. You will be confident. You will be imbued with self confidence. Justifiably.


You can't magic this up. You will achieve nothing by punching the air and shouting “yee-haa”; or beating your chest. You would be trying to cheat yourself if you did. My grandma used to cheat when playing “patience” - you would be the modern equivalent in the ski world.


FIRST THINGS FIRST

If you find you get scared, that's fine. It proves you've got your wits about you. You will survive longer. If your belief is ill-founded you'll soon find out anyway.


By all means be scared, or a little anxious, or a little lacking in self-confidence: they need not stop you from learning what you need to learn. Find out precisely what movement with your body, or your legs, or your feet or whatever you need to make in order to pull-off what you want.


Then practice, practice, and practice some more. Do it in the least challenging circumstances you can find; the gentlest slope, the easiest snow. I guarantee your confidence will build. Your faith that you can do this on this slope in these circumstances will grow.


I also guarantee that when you take this new game to a slightly different, slightly less easy slope, your self-confidence will be slightly less again. Hardly surprising is it? So all you need to do is repeat the successful process that you've just succeeded with.


And if you keep that up, though no one knows how long it will take, or exactly how brilliant a skier you will become, you will nevertheless become a skilfull controlled skier. It's not magic. And your confidence will grow with you ( just a little bit behind, but not much – remember your confidence needs you more than you need it!)


Bob Trueman


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