Beginner or pro, first run or new trick; Snowsports offer loads of on-snow fun, but prompt some nerve-racking challenges too. Overcoming our fears and achieving more on the snow makes skiing and snowboarding that much more rewarding. So, when faced with on-snow nerves, having the knowledge to calm our mind and body can help us accomplish more and panic less.
Whether you’re taking on your first black run, learning to parallel ski, hitting a jump or making your first turn on a snowboard, here’s 5 tips to help you keep your hands steady and your mind at ease.
Nervous skiers or snowboarders are very often plagued by a lack of knowledge around the ‘how’ in what they’re trying to achieve. The nerves are then caused by doubt; doubt in themselves and in their ability to accomplish the slope, turn, jump or rail in front of them.
If you are unsure about how to take on the moguls, how to stop in control at the bottom of that steep or how you’re going to land once you’ve taken off that jump, feelings of anxiety are only natural. Getting answers to your questions and gathering the knowledge to take on your next challenge is likely to vanquish some of that doubt. For this reason, Ski or Snowboard Lessons are a great way to gain knowledge and build confidence.
In Snowsports the idea that, ‘time plus knowledge equals confidence’ is nothing new, but the use of time is a little bit more involved than just spending time on your skis or snowboard. ‘Time’ really refers to ‘practice time’ and when talking about ‘practice time’ we’re actually talking about the ‘right practice time,’ giving yourself the appropriate time to practice the right things to accomplish more. And knowing what you should be practicing comes back to having knowledge, the two go hand in hand.
If you’re struggling to muster the courage to head down the run you were skiing perfectly last winter, ask yourself what you’re afraid of. If you’re worrying about controlling your speed, falling over or something else, use knowledge to identify the skiing or snowboarding techniques that can help you overcome these fears. Then, take the time to practice the appropriate technique and build your confidence on a slope below your level.
If you’re trying something new on the snow or it’s been a while since you’ve skied, a few nerves are nothing to worry about. If you’ve got the knowledge, and are taking on the appropriate practice time, but you’re still feeling a little jittery, accept that nerves are part of the thrill.
Move away from the idea that fear is bad, accept your nerves and focus on controlling your breathing instead. Calmly breathing in and out will provide your mind and body with the oxygen they need to perform.
Calm and steady breathing can help your body relax before embarking on a Snowsports challenge, but warming up your muscles first is a ‘must’. In a cold mountain environment it can be easy to tense up and limit movement, when moving and layers are actually the key to staying warm. If you’re not already pumped from previous laps, unclipping your skis or snowboard and running on the spot, or jumping up and down to get pumped is a good idea.
Once you’re warm, you should feel a little more relaxed, but actively releasing the tension in your body as you breath out and sinking down into your feet as you do so, is a great way to calm any lingering nerves.
Once you have made every effort to prepare yourself for whatever is making you nervous, fill your mind with beneficial thoughts. Ignore all the things that make you fearful of the challenge, because you have the knowledge and the ‘know how’ to overcome them. Focusing on the Snowsports techniques you’re going to use, visualise yourself, step by step skiing down the black run or landing the snowboard trick. Concentrate only on the ‘do’s’ and neglect any thoughts that relate to ‘don’t.’
If negative, ‘don’t’ thoughts continue to creep to mind, distract yourself by singing the ‘do’s’ or by listening to music.