Short Turns // November 30, 2015 // By


Making the Connection

Our brain co-ordinates our muscles and nervous system to help us tackle the terrain we ski. Our brain controls the mental processes of how we think and feel about our skiing. Our brain also links our body movements and mental processes. Experienced skiers know they can ski better by being in better physical condition, but unlike our body, we rarely think about training our mind to ski better. An untrained mind does not respond to tougher terrain the same way a trained body does. Thoughts and feelings of self-doubt, fear and apprehension activate our body’s emotional response and translate into stiff, rigid and tentative skiing. Try these tips to improve the mind-body connection in your skiing.

Practice visualization. You don’t have to be an Olympic or freeride athlete to reap the benefits of visualization. Before starting down, think about how you want to feel during the run. In your mind’s eye, see yourself skiing (and feeling) the way you want to ski.

Smile. The simplest way to block negative thoughts and feelings is by smiling. Experiment with smiling (and not) as you make your way down the slope and notice how your body relaxes when you force a smile.

Rehearse your mind-body connection on easier terrain. Practice skiing on easier terrain while using visualization and smiling. This will train your body and mind to work together. Rehearse on easier terrain repeatedly and eventually you’ll develop a new script for your mind and body to use on more challenging runs. Move toward tougher runs in a graded or gradual way.

_S. GERALD HANN           S. Gerald Hann, D Ed. is a clinical psychologist in Halifax and Level II ski instructor.

from Fall 2015 issue