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Overcoming Fear

overcome your fear in skiing

Professional Ski Teacher and Altitude Snowsports School General Manager Jon West will be sharing some tips and advice on how to get the most out of your performance.

A little info about Mr West - Jon has been based in Verbier and has been actively involved in the development of Altitude Snowsport School since its birth 6 seasons ago. Educated in Psychology at a top University in England and being one of a very small number of people in Verbier to hold the top British and French Ski Teaching Qualifications. He is the ideal person to share with us some tips and tactics about how to overcome those fears and maximize your performance

From your experience what can people do to improve their enjoyment on the slopes?

Hmm where do I start..? It could be lots of things, maybe choosing the wrong equipment, not preparing physically for the day’s events, skiing slopes way beyond their ability level, trying to ski without goggles when it is snowing hard is always a good one! I once skied with a guy who had the inners of his ski boots in the wrong boots! Such events can definitely delay our performance!. One area that people often underestimate is the ‘psychological’ side of performance.

Are you suggesting that I should try to look into my childhood and the relationship with my Mother. Can this really improve my skiing?

Haha – probably not! It is more about the understanding that improvements can be made by identifying the things which can distract us or excite us and develop ways to manage these things! For instance a little excitement or fear is quite good…however if we are pushed too far beyond our comfort zone we are extremely likely to experience a drop in performance. This is quite common at all levels of ability and I am not suggesting that you don’t push yourself – but is also nice to have a few tools to enable you to manage these extra distractions! High end performers such as Ski Racers and pro free riders definitely prepare themselves psychologically before a competition. Obviously these guys have a massive technical ability; however as with the nervous beginner the battle can often be won or lost in the mind.

Whatever your ability level, to plan your route down the slope before you start is always a good thing. Imagine yourself skiing the line and how it would feel. If you are a little out of your depth this may help you to decide the easiest route, and thus install a bit of confidence back into your skiing. If you are looking to impress then you it may well offer you the opportunity to pull a trick or get some air? Either way you will have more fun and enjoyment from your day!

Tip: If the task seems a bit too much then break it down into smaller events. Try skiing 4 bumps, then 8, then 10. Then maybe the whole run. ‘If you are a beginner look for a good spot to stop not to far down the slope. Plan your route to that spot. Do it.Then repeat.

Keywords are one approach to staying focused- Pick one key word that you think can help you (It has to be positive). So for example it could be the word ‘GO’ – if you are always stopping before a steep part or ‘Strong’ if you often get thrown out of a balanced position or have a tendency to panic at the end of the day when the snow gets heavy or bumped up.

Tip: When you feel the fear, or your performance is starting to drop try to stay focused on your performance. This might just prevent you loosing your skis!

Why not combine the two tips. When you set off, plan your route, take a deep breath and think of your key words…every time you feel your performance dropping repeat the word in your head or maybe even shout it out loud!. Play around with this – it’s not for everyone but it may just help!

Take care and enjoy your season.

www.altitude-verbier.com