How To Fake It…
…Confidence that is. Ask any instructor and he or she will tell you that the most timid student in a group is always concerned about ‘holding the others up’. It is often the justification for ducking out of lessons, for avoiding a challenge and ultimately taken as affirmation for the student’s lack of confidence.
Many books have been written about negative vs positive attitude. Here are just a few tips anyone can try to help address those insecurities in a practical manner:
- If you look a klutz you will feel a klutz so familiarise yourself with your equipment. Take the time to find out what is most appropriate for your level & style and make sure you are equipped accordingly. Practice putting your skis & boots on and taking them off again. Since most folk only ski once a year, you will have to address this issue again at the start of every holiday, particularly if you are hiring equipment. Keep abreast of changes.
- Be organised so that you are not the last to arrive or the last to set off on a run. Invest in a magnetic pass so you are not fumbling with gloves and pockets every time you use a lift. On a coffee break don’t wait until everyone else is ready to go before you head to the loo, be the first one back outside. Apart from looking really keen, it will give you an extra couple of minutes to get ready and mentally prepare.
- Take an interest in your surroundings. Instead of blindly following others take the trouble to obtain a piste map. Learn the names of the lifts & runs and take note which of them you are using, which you enjoy and which you find difficult. This will help you suppress blind panic every time the group sets off and instead instil a sense of control. Maybe when they all head down the black run, you will have noticed a blue that takes you to the bottom of the same lift and you can save face by cruising down this instead!
- Now this is the technical one. Normally when an intermediate student is last in the group to arrive at the bottom it isn’t necessarily because they are skiing slower, but because they are skiing further. Confident skiers tend to take the most direct route down (the fall line) but timid skiers tend to traverse across, using the whole width of the slope. Often this is just out of habit, rather than a need to pick the way down. Try to shorten the traverse you make between each turn, ideally until you are linking your turns and going straight from one turn into another. You will find this easier on some slopes & conditions than others, so it will take practice to achieve. Also make sure that you ‘finish’ each turn before going into the next. By that I mean make sure that you are comfortable with your speed before pointing your skis down the slope again or you will find you are accelerating as you progress down the slope. Ideally you want a consistent speed for the whole run. If necessary ask your instructor to help you with this.
Confidence. Control. Commitment. These are three elements which lead to success in any challenge. You may lack confidence, but if you commit to improving your technique and take control of how this is achieved, hey presto! The small successes that result will help to build that all important confidence. Good luck!