The power of visualisation and the damages of being lazy.

Every start of the season, after a few runs of clearing the cobwebs, I find myself skiing quite well. Then somehow through the season, that feeling slowly but surely dissipates. It happens almost without fail every season. Through shared conversations with other instructors, I’ve discovered that this phenomenon is not unique just to myself. So it brings me to a hypothesis; 

Instructors are doing something pre-season that makes us ski better and something else from the start of the season through to mid season that is detrimental to our skiing. 

In between seasons, most instructors daydream about skiing. We tend to picture ourselves from the start of the turn, making the body movements (and no, we don’t do that gay sway snowboarders do when making fun of skiers) and imagining the sensations we would be feeling from the snow as we go down a run. In short, we are visualising. A mental process that is largely touted to be incredibly helpful in the learning of any discipline. So after weeks of visualisation, we get to the slopes and it pays off. We’re skiing well even without actually putting a single turn in between seasons. 

 Picture in your head all the movements you're going to make in a turn. Now repeat.

Picture in your head all the movements you’re going to make in a turn. Now repeat.

But from here it all goes downhill (pardon the pun). We go to work and start teaching. We start getting lazy in our skiing. We’re constantly looking over our shoulders to check on students so our shoulders rotate in unison. We do horrible ‘pushy’ hockey stops where our legs start bracing against the snow. We do all that maybe 20 – 100 times a day. Muscle memory builds and our body makes the association that that’s skiing. So whilst teaching, we are repeatedly making bad movements that is damaging our ski technique. We are gaining mileage on poor, technically incorrect  movements and are changing our skiing for the worse. 

Repeatedly doing 'bad' hockey stops damages your skiing.

Repeatedly doing ‘bad’ hockey stops damages your skiing.

Looking behind when skiing inadvertently make the shoulders move.

Looking behind when skiing inadvertently make the shoulders move.

I’m not proposing that teaching is bad for skiing. I’m saying bad habits while teaching is bad for skiing. After a recognition of this hypothesis, I made a concerted effort to always ski technically correct in my lessons. With only a slight adjustment to lesson organisation and conduct, I’ve found that I’ve managed to remove the damaging effects of being lazy in skiing ie; my skiing doesn’t suck mid season.

A lazy skiing position soon becomes your default position.

A lazy skiing position soon becomes your default position.

 This can effect you as well. Don’t get lazy. On a gentle green or a cat track, I see most skiers relax and get into horrible positions. Stay lazy and that position soon becomes your default position without you realising it. You should be trying to focus on simple but important things instead; looking ahead constantly, keeping your arms up or moving your ankles to play with your balance. Even when instructed, most skiers don’t do it for longer than 5 seconds before they revert to their ‘lazy’  positions. Yet somehow they think just because they know it’s the correct move in their head, they can perform it on demand. If you can’t do it on the flats, forget about being able to do it on steeper terrain.

 

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