We're going skiing. Whoop, whoop. But hands up if this is not entirely the best news for you as the thought of skiing fills you with trepidation, if not actual dread. You are not alone. You'd be surprised how many people, particularly women, have lost their mojo for the mountains, if indeed they ever had one.
Louise Pode, BSc(Hons) SRP MSc has Institute of Leadership and Management Level 7 and over 25 years’ experience in Executive and Personal Development Coaching, so is well-qualified to create confidence in life let alone skiing. Her medical background as a state registered physiotherapist has given her a great understanding of the impact of how our minds and bodies influence each other. She has also experienced The Fear and a lack of confidence skiing. Read how she has transformed a feeling of hopeless on the slopes to really loving it...
Do you dread the skiing holiday, feel out of your comfort zone and anxious? You may have been skiing for years and suppressed the fear or be an intermediate who is still bricking it every time you put skis on.
The challenge, for a surprising number is to manage the psychology of our skiing, that fear factor (and there are several potential causes), which holds us back from relaxing and enjoying the mountains. At worst, it can make you give up all together and go snorkelling in The Caribbean instead.
If you really want to make that shift to being a confident skier, it’s your mindset that needs to change.
CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE
We all know that a large part of skiing is psychological and if you’re not feeling confident it has an immediate impact on your technique. Fear and anxiety dominate your emotions, translating into rapid breathing, tension, rigid posture and a tendency to lean back into the mountain. All of which reduces your control and really adds to the fear.
If this sounds familiar, then join the club. As one of those women who used to experience that awful pit in my stomach whenever skiing holidays were discussed, I know just how the crisis of confidence feels. For me it wasn’t just about my fear of skiing but how it made me feel about myself. Humiliated, hopeless, failure – just a few words that come to mind.
The ironic thing is, I love the mountains and so wanted to do it, yet I just couldn’t shift my anxiety. On the slopes there was that fear of getting hurt, being too slow or getting exhausted laboriously putting in turn after turn, fighting against gravity to keep control.
STOP, PAUSE, REFLECT
But, one day, I had an epiphany that changed my attitude and perception. Three years ago, I was skiing with friends when one of the guys decided he didn’t fancy a particularly challenging run and decided to skip it and head off for coffee. It really struck me how relaxed he was about his decision – it was a game-changing moment for me. Whenever I ‘bailed’ I felt hopeless and would have a coffee with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart. How come he could be so chilled – his perspective so different to mine? After a stop, pause, reflect moment, I knew I had to change the whole way I viewed my skiing.
As a Professional Executive Coach my working world is about enabling others to challenge their perspective and be the best version of themselves. So it was time for some self-coaching, which has completely transformed how I feel about skiing.
I have gone from feeling hopeless on the slopes to really loving it. The last time I skied it was a big powder day. We had great fun – my style wasn’t perfect but that didn’t matter, we had such a laugh. This is what skiing is all about for me. Managing my fear and lack of confidence through coaching has been transformational. How ironic that I was the one quaking in my boots at the top of the run 4 years ago and here I am developing ski coaching courses and shouting from the roof tops that we can do it.
TOP TIPS FOR LESS STRESS
Building confidence has to come from within which is why coaching is a great tool for shifting that perspective from anxious to confident skier. There are some initial steps that you can take which will create an environment that is less stressful for you.
My top tips for these are:
Choose a resort with a good snow record, it's not going to help your technique or confidence, battling with ice or slushy snow.
Aim for somewhere with a wide variety of runs so you always have choices on the type of run you take and can meet friends of family via an easier route.
Make sure you ski in a mixed ability group. There’s nothing worse than always being last and just as you pause for breath everyone shoots off down the slope. It’s no fun when you’re constantly feeling anxious and inadequate.
Choose the right kit – so often a pair of skis and boots are thrust into your hand in the ski hire shop and you just crack on. Take time to talk to the rental shop about the type of skiing you do (and don't let your husband/boyfirennd/father do it for you). If you hire skis tailored to your ability, they’ll be much more forgiving on the slopes.
Wear the right clothes – not only warm and weatherproof but also ones that make you feel good about yourself.
When you’re in the resort try and stay away from the busy slopes, head off to an adjacent valley to avoid the stress of skiers and snowboarders coming at you from all directions.
If you’d like to develop your technique but find ski groups intimidating think about investing in a few 1:1 instructor sessions instead, so the tuition is tailored to your needs.
Freya Fenwood for She Jumps co-founded by US pro skier Lynsey Dyer with the vision 'to see a world without fear, where people everywhere are living to their potential...by inspiring people to jump beyond their limitations...help women and girls take risks in the outdoors to enable them to break through fears and internal/external barriers in life so they can grow to their full potential'.