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This is a three part series

View Part 1 here

View Part 2 here

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

doing them.

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.

Too long!

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

safe run-out.

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

minutes worth.

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.

Good luck!

You can still get a copy of my books on Amazon at the links below.

Book 1: Ski In Control: How to ski ANY piste, anywhere, in full control.: Man or Woman Young or Old.

Book 2: Skiing from Greens to Reds and beyond...: A skiing workbook to really give you confidence (Ski In Conrol 2)

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