Freeskiing & Mental Fitness | A Guide to Better Performance:

Liza Sarychev | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
Photo by Ian McIntosh
Photo by Ian McIntosh

How many times have you tomahawked down a line you know you could have stuck or went around a cliff you should have sent? If you’re anything like me, the answer is a lot. That is because skiing is 90% mental. You can spend all summer lifting weights and all winter working on your technique, but if your mental fitness isn’t on point, those tree trunk quads you spent all that time pumping aren’t going to realize their full potential.

Getting mentally fit isn’t as easy as getting physically fit, after all there is no gym membership you can buy or personal trainer you can hire for a mental workout. Luckily, a lot of sports psychology research has been done on the topic and Freeskiing World Qualifier competitor, Hannah Follender spent months reading up on it to bring you a thoroughly researched and well-written article on getting mentally stronger this winter.

Mental.
Mental.

Techniques to Get You Started

This first routine is adapted from 10-Minute Toughness by Jason Selk:

    1.    Begin with a Centering Breath – This is the 15-second breath mentioned earlier. Breathe in for 6 seconds, hold your breath for 2, then breathe out for 7 seconds. For this to work your out-breath must be longer than your in-breath.

    2.    Performance Statement – Self specific statement regarding one or two skills or themes you want to keep in mind. Keep it positive. For example, “Eyes open, I’m ready”. No “Don’t” statements, i.e. “Don’t fall”.

Xavier de le Rue & mental fitness.
Xavier de le Rue & mental fitness.

    3.    Personal Highlight Reel – This step is broken down into 3 parts and will take some time for you to sort out. Writing this section down helps. Pick a camera angle that works for you (i.e. 1st POV, 2nd POV etc). Try to use 1st POV if you can as studies have shown this is the most effective visualization angle for muscle and emotional response. Use the same angle throughout your highlight reel. Your first minute of highlights should focus on your past successes and times when you’ve found the most enjoyment (i.e. A successful competition run, a successful huck, a neck deep powder day), pick 3-5 of these clips to string together. Your second minute of highlights will focus on an ultimate future goal (i.e. A Freeride World Tour run from start to finish – visualize everything). Finally, your last minute should focus on an immediate goal situation (i.e. FWQ – how you will ski your perfect run, start to finish.)

    4.    Identity Statement –  This is a concrete self statement to enhance your self image. Remember, self-image training is not mental trickery, it is a proven agent of self-control. This is a two part statement with both parts beginning with “I am”. The first part is focused on a strength you have or want to have. The second part is focused on what you want to accomplish. For example, “I am confident; I am the best skier in the world.”

    5.    Centering Breath- It is important to close this mental practice with the same centering breath we used in step 1. The serves as a reminder for presence, focus, and intention.

Griffin Post about to drop the Middle Teton, WY.
Griffin Post about to drop the Middle Teton, WY.

This practice should be done daily for effectiveness. It only takes ten minutes. If you find your mind wandering at any point, go back to the beginning and start again. Aim for one successful repetition per day.

– Hannah Follender / Mountain Athlete

Read Hannah’s full article here:

Freeskiing: The Mental Game

Photo by Mattias Fredriksson
Photo by Mattias Fredriksson

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