This is a three part series
Part 3 - Skill
Football managers talk about their players “skills”.
They do not mean “skill”, what they are referring to while perhaps not realising it, is
“techniques”. John Shedden is fond of referring to the footballer's technique of ball-
dribbling. As a non-footballer he admits that watching him dribbling a football is not a
demonstration of skill, he says it is “ a demonstration of ball-dribbling done badly”.
Likewise any cursory observation of any skiing piste will offer countless demonstrations of
the techniques of skiing being done badly. The outcomes are not enjoyed by the skiers
Some skiers have no great desire to improve their level of skill in executing skiing
techniques but some do – But I suspect the majority do not manage to find the help they
need to do it.
How to ski with confidence
This is part 3 of a short series of blogs giving some consideration to aspects of developing
your confidence and self-confidence in your skiing. I started off this short series because
posters on the wall depicting heroic figures reaching for the sky and underlined with
captions saying “Be Confident” rather miss the point.
They certainly do nothing to educate you in exactly how to develop confidence. My take on
it is that confidence cannot be obtained cheaply. It has to be earned. It cannot be donated
by someone else. You need a reason to believe in yourself, and without it confidence is no
more than a veneer that soon peels away.
To develop skilful skiing
To be confident that you will be able to ski any given slope – well - requires that you know
in advance that you will be able to execute the requisite techniques, with sufficient skill to
achieve the result you seek.
Skill has certain attributes
We are not born with it.
It is “targeted” - that is to say it is aimed at achieving some sort of advance plan. It is not merely random.
The higher the level of skill employed the more certain will be the achievement of the desired outcome.
We are not born skilful. There is no such thing as a “born skier”, or a “born gymnast”, or a
“born basket-ball player”.
Of course there are physical attributes that may offer a general tendency toward higher
level achievement in something. If you are a gymnast it will not hurt to be relatively short
and compact of build, and to be intrinsically light in weight. Similarly if you wish to be a
basket-ball player it will beneficial generally speaking – all other things being equal – if
you a six foot ten tall (2 mtrs 8 cms).
But those attributes on their own are insufficient; being 2 mtrs 8 cms and clumsy will not
lead to a wealthy basket-ball career. Being light in weight and weak as a kitten won't win
you any prizes as a gymnast. Skill is something that we need to consciously develop.
Skiing Skill is “targeted”
Part of one definition of skill is “The learned ability (we're not born with it) to bring about
pre-determined outcomes …..” That is to say that the whole exercise of developing skill is
intended to achieve a goal. Something quite precise.
The definition is completed with “... with maximum certainty”. The higher the level of
delivered skill, the more certain will be the achievement of the pre-determined outcome.
All this, if you wish to become an expert skier implies that we need to understand some of
the requirements for the practise of skill improvement.
“Practice” is the appropriate word – we are likely to need a lot of it. Success is seldom
achieved quickly. This takes some character strength – the willingness to keep at it, to
keep going when little progress seems to be being made. As Winston Churchill is credited
with saying “When you're going through Hell, keep going”.
Improve your skiing skill wisely
My assumption is that if you are reading this you are one who wants to become a more
skilful skier. So give yourself the best chance you can. The simplest way you can do this in
a practical way when you are in a ski resort is to pick the best snow slopes for your practice.
What makes one of them the best?
By all means go off and challenge yourself on the hardest slopes you can currently manage.
Have some fun. Ski as fast as you like to ski – perhaps faster. But when you are working to
improve your confidence by improving your skill level, only choose slopes which comply
with this rule :-
Pick a piste which is the best pisted, the least bumpy, that has the most even slope to it whatever that angle is, and the best quality snow.
In the case of shall we say a mogul field, because you want to develop more skill at bumps
skiing, the same basic rule applies. Search for regularity and even-ness. Many mogul fiels
have been badly skied by others, their bumps are irregular, poorly shaped, badly cut-up.
Avoid them, pick a short one. Pick one with well-rounded bumps and even troughs. Pick
one you can enter towards its lower end so you only need to ski a few before getting to a
You will not want to, nor would it be wise to stay on it all day long doing nothing but
practise. I have done that, and it worked for me – indeed I stuck to one suitable piste once
for a week; but you don't want to get like me!
Instead, if for example you know what it is you want to practise, and if you know from past
experience that your time limit for concentration and effectiveness is say an hour and a
half, then I would recommend doing 45 minutes worth, taking a break, doing another 45
Then go skiing but whatever you do avoid trying to do both at once. If you are skiing for
fun, then be focused, be aware, but save changing things for practice sessions.
This way you will accelerate your skill development and your self-confidence the most.
You can still get a copy of my books on Amazon at the links below.