October always seems to be a busy month. Schools break up for Half Term, the ghosts and ghouls come out for Halloween, dark evenings return as the clocks go back and sadly these days it also sees the arrival of Christmas decorations in stores, most of which I’ll be boycotting until December! It also signals the end of the programme for artificial slope racing and the start of the on-snow alpine season.
Many of you will have competed in your last plastic or indoor races and be looking forward to a well-earned rest after a hard fought campaign. Your parents will also be due a bit of a break after driving thousands of miles around the UK and Ireland standing at the side of the slopes in the wind, rain and occasional sunshine although none of the above if you’ve been competing on indoor slopes in which case it’ll be subjecting yourself to hours in the fridge!
On that point please remember to say a big ‘Thank You’ to them for all those early mornings, ski prep, love and encouragement they give you!
So as one season rolls into another what do we need to do to make the most of this important transition?
There is of course the physical preparation that will be continuing and is a year-round effort ensuring that we are in the best shape possible for the tasks that lie ahead.
Then there are the ski skills. How many hours of ‘purposeful practice’ will you be doing this season to get us to achieve your potential? Is there anything else you can do? How about visualisation? Yup we can use that. We can ‘do skiing’ in our mid recreating the sensations and feelings of running through drills in our minds programming our skills before they are needed.
Watching videos of great skiers is also a great way to learn, although don’t try to emulate them too much as they have all been at it far longer than you and there are a number of stages you need to go through before you can get your hip on the deck like Ted!
As well as getting those snow legs back in action you’ll also need to make sure your Chimp is in a good place and so there are also a few things that are needed to do to make sure we keep up with our Mind Skills and Mental Housekeeping so for those starting their winter training season.
Have a Plan – Having a plan of what you want to achieve is essential if you want to get the most out of your activity and life. Having a plan gives you a purpose to which you can set goals along the way and track where you have come from. You Human likes to have a plan to work towards and also settles your Chimp brain down.
Warm up the machine – it’s vitally important that you don’t hit the slopes unprepared so before you go out in the morning rehearse what you are going to do and run through the act of skiing in your mind. Visualise and generate those fantastic emotions when you get a turn just right. Warming up the machine lets your Chimp know what you are going to do so there are no surprises.
Practice Makes Perfect (ish) – Make sure ALL of the activities count and give it 100% effort every time no matter what you are being asked to do. Drills may seem pointless but they, along with a lot of all mountain skiing will make you a great skier and a better racer. Repetition programmes your computer with automatic actions and reactions so you can rely on your ‘Autopilot’ when you ski.
Reflect – Taking a few minutes to reflect on how your day has gone, what you could have done differently and giving yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job is a great way to end the day. You could try some breathing exercises and maybe some meditation to prepare for the day ahead or reflect on the day you've had. You can find exercises for this online here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awD3UTmzmWc
Of course if you are reading this as the parent of an athlete then a big 'well done' for all you do and don't forget you can use these same principl
es in your work and everyday life.
Most of all, make sure that you ‘do your best’ in everything you do, after all that’s all we can ask of ourselves whichever end of the season you’re at.