thinking vs. skiing

Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
With an unusual season for me, I've spent a lot of time thinking, both on and off the water, in an effort to get my position right, my lean right, my gates right, my handle control right, etc. This has led to some really great days on the water, when the "thought of the day" seemed to work, and others when I struggled. This morning I skied one set where I was thinking hard about my handle and position at the second wake. Here's the problem. The entire pass goes by in 16.95 seconds. If I'm thinking at the second wake, I'm standing still. That's no good!

Second set I did what I did last fall. Get wide on the gate, turn in and ski. No thinking at all. Suddenly my skiing was more dynamic, my line was tight, my turns were consistently terrific, and I felt like "me".

I don't know why, but I do this to myself every season in the early part of the year. This year it is more of a problem because I just haven't skied much.

Conclusion: think in your living room, ski on the lake. Do not mix (don't try to ski in your living room, and don't think too much on the lake!)
Jim Ross
Obrienslalomski6jonesALPJrFam-manThan_BoganShakeskirobmollysilverlake6ballsChef23Skoot1123SkiJayaupatkingRazorRoss3Pat MjimbrakeMick04BulldogPrzybyla


  • ski6jonesski6jones Posts: 820 Crazy Baller
    In preparing to ski Regionals and Nationals this year I decided to spend a little time trying to get my mind right as it were. I remembered people recommending "The Inner Game of Tennis" here so I decided to give it a read. Your comments are similar to some of the recommendations in the book. I found it very helpful for my mind set while skiing and preparing to ski.
    Carl Addington, Lakes of Katy, Texas
  • Fam-manFam-man Posts: 165 Baller
    To qualify my thoughts, 2nd year in the course 15off @ 32mph working towards 34mph.

    If I'm not thinking about something during a pass I'm just repeating what I always do and not improving. As you said the key is not thinking about too many things.
    Last night I was giving up the handle immediately at the second wake and skiing straight into the ball. I had to think about maintaining some hip-handle connection and feeding the handle out as I approach apex. As that becomes automatic I can move onto the next thought.
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 904 Mega Baller
    Skiing is a hard sport to get into that mental state just due to the short duration of the activity and all the little micro-adjustments that are always careening around your noodle, but I know what you mean... I just don't know if I've ever really felt that skiing.

    The sport I used to feel that in back in the day was snowmobiling (both racing and aggressive trail riding). Eventually, your mind just shuts down processing anything except your environment. You're always seeing and picking the best lines, reacting before your verbal mind even has the time to verbalize your thoughts, making countless small corrections and moves to absorb bumps without even feeling them, etc. It's the most amazing mental state. Then there were times when you were just off. Nothing felt right. Everything was hard work. Bumps were kicking your ass. Etc.

    I think that latter state is where a lot of us skiers permanently live. The exceptional ones are the ones that can get into that flow zone rapidly.
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    Last year before every pass I'd say to myself "get high on the gate, turn in, ski". That was the extent of my thinking about my passes, and it was the best skiing of my life. Every spring I go and get all analytical about every little thing, then can't put them all together until one day, palm to forehead, I remember I should just get high on the gate, turn in, and ski!
    Jim Ross
  • bf`bf` Posts: 119 Baller
    I'm at least trying to limit myself to one thought at a time per pass this year (short pull, head up, pin elbows, etc) If I try more than one, I can't think of any of them. If only one, I can at least remember it until my gate pull out... :smile:
  • JGrayJGray Posts: 63 Baller
    I tend to think to much during practice and some times get stuck thinking about what I did 2 seconds ago which is 1/8 of the pass ago and then fall. Problem is that thinking does tend to bleed into tournaments too. Up here at today at the SCR regional's and yea practice I was thinking a lot early and finally said just ski idiot, and rana FUN smooth 32' off. But getting the mind to just stay focused on what is in front is sometimes hard. Just focus on whatever it takes to get to the next buoy.
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,259 Crazy Baller
    This is not a new concept, told to me by Dave Benzel back in the day. The levels of skiing and other activities as well.
    1. Unconscious Incompetence. You don't know that you don't know.
    2. Conscious Incompetence. You know that you don't know, and can't.
    3. Conscious competence. You can do it, but you gotta think about, and sometimes that doesn't work.
    4. Unconscious competence. You just do it with muscle memory, or whatever.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,733 Mega Baller
    edited July 2017
    When I take a lesson (like from @Chet ), I am thinking about (and doing) only what he told me to do.

    Later in practice, I try to take that to muscle memory level. However, I have noticed that I currently need to ensure though on about 3 things and my capacity during the pass is only 1.5 things at best. That simply means that I need to allow other things to stay as-is, while I take 1 thing towards perfection and muscle memory. Only then, can I move on to thing #2.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • CentCent Posts: 107 Baller
    To me there are times thinking helps and times it does not.

    I think it works best if limited to one thing, and is particularly useful when you identify something you are consitabtly inclined to do incorrectly absent thinking. An example might be realizing you are looking cross course too early on most passes because you learned that way, and are doing it at a time when you should to be looking down the course. Thinking specifically about correcting that one thing since you do it almost inadvertently unless you think about it seems to help me.
  • bigskieridahobigskieridaho Posts: 886 Crazy Baller
    This is my biggest issue when it comes to tournaments. I ski well in practice, but when I get to a tourney my mind is not right with just skiing. I need to just ski like it is another day on the water.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,657 Mega Baller
    I believe there are times when you think about what you are doing and then times when you apply what you know without thinking. With regards to slalom there are certainly times when you think in the course like applying coaching and improving technique. I do believe it is difficult to apply more than 1 or 2 concepts at a time.

    When it comes to golf as another example when I played tournament golf I picked a target, made sure I was setup/aligned properly then let the swing go. If I was thinking about technique in a tournament it was a bad thing.

    I feel the same way about skiing in tournaments. I focus on my key thoughts in the water and look to get my setup at the gate correct but once I turn in for the gates I try to just ski.
    Mark Shaffer
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,893 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    How many of you have rocked a set when you had no expectations? A few of my best tourneys were where I hadn't skied in about 3 weeks so I went there just for fun and to watch other skiers; I was loose and rocked a big score.

    Some of the worst tourneys I've had followed incredible practice scores...I was killing it which put all kinds of pressure on myself to "show up" and do it. Round one not so questioning, now thinking, now analyzing. Ski like poo another round, more questions...more frustration.

    I think the best athletes are more often relaxed, more often able to access the "zone". Sometimes we want to get better so badly we over think it...and some of us have legit ceilings even at our best. Our goal should be to be at "our" best as much of the time as possible...even if our best is not necessarily better than the rest. Who would be happy nailing their PB regularly? I sure would.

    Dave Ross--die cancer die
    Ralph Lee9400Pat MDaveD
  • dthatedthate Posts: 134 Baller
    Razorskier1 I agree, when I am thinking about it too much and anticipate great results I typically suck. Back to basics, get high on the boat, turn in, look down the ball line until the ski is going the other way, then follow...

    There are great skiers (Kris Lapoint is certainly one) that can think, see, analyze everything around them and react properly. I can only try to stand on the ski in decent position and ride the ski
  • BlueSkiBlueSki Posts: 535 Crazy Baller
    I like concept of think in the living room, ski on the water. When coaching or being coached to get to the level of conscious competence, I think it is great to make sure there is an understanding of the what and why, but then a simple reminder should be in in one's head. For example, after my son and I talk at the end of a pass, I ask him what the one word trigger he is going to use for what we discussed will be and then I reinforce that trigger. That helps him apply the tweak with his chosen phrase without forgetting everything as he goes through the gates.
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,027 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    There is a concept in golf instruction that says you can only have one swing thought. More than that and your thinking will interfere rather than help.
    I think that translates well to most other sports.
    You can have a key word or thought while skiing but not much more.
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 1,745 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited July 2017
    This sport is simple, but so hard to execute, you can think about various aspects of your skiing and what you would like to change, but the time on water to educate your Brain and Muscles is so short, the moment you step on the dock, you cannot be thinking.
    I would like to quote a very good slalom skier, who I suggest probably knows what he is talking about
    " If You Are Thinking, You Are Done" Will Asher.
    I can only think, building routines, which mimic movements, you would like to achieve, on the water may help more than, trying to think too much about it, it would be interesting if somebody came up with a regime that educated the body, for the movement and body position for slalom skiing.
    Somebodies opportunity for a DVD maybe ?

    "Keep Moving On & Off The Water”

  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,321 Mega Baller
    One thing that has always worked for me is once I'm up, well before I pull out, get in the right body position. Low handle, flex the front ankle, good stack, etc.. if I get everything set before I start actually skiing then I pull out correctly, any mistakes you make on the pullout you are almost doomed to make the rest of the way down the course but if you can ski right on the pullout-glide-pull in then that typically follows me down the course and you don't need to think about it all that much.

    If you spend too much time thinking about every move the whole way down the course you can find yourself skiing through a series of "freeze frames" rather than the more natural transition through movements that will typically yield a better result.
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    Being deliberate about what you do in the course doesn't matter IF you don't start high enough to begin with. If you start wrong and then focus on controlling your handle it won't work.
    Jim Ross
  • GaryWilkinsonGaryWilkinson Posts: 292 Baller
    After 40+ years of slalom trying to get to shorter line lengths while thinking about 3-4 thoughts in the course, I started last year especially to listen to my good friend and informal coach Pierre and did a lot more free skiing.

    In the course I count balls and try to score. If I botch 3-ball I try and reset but really never commit to getting back to a good rhythm. In free skiing, I work one thing at a time 20 times! This gives me the feeling in an overall body sense what doing it right feels like. Essentially building muscle / body memory to make it more of a habit.

    I'm not good enough to be thinking of one thing like trailing arm pressure in the course. I have too many things to correct starting with hips to handle. But free skiing allows me to really practice and work on that one aspect to get it right and commit it to my DNA. Then move on to the next thing. But I must admit, just doing a great job of hips up, handle low in a stacked position really makes -32 off feel better!

    I used to coach minor hockey and just like the contributor above said, you can't be thinking about technique etc game time. That's for practice. Game time is proof of good practice habits.

    Now where the heck is my COM?
    I need to ski back to the handle obviously.
  • ChetChet Posts: 40 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Ideally our muscles should obey our will.
    Our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles.
    Ralph Lee
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    @Chet is right - I've skied with him! I guess what I would say is that my thinking occurs most on the platform getting ready and as I approach the course. In the course I feel like I am monitoring my actions rather than thinking about them. For example, Chet told me "two hands on the handle, outside the buoy line, on top of your ski". I repeat that to myself all the time, and I monitor myself in the course to be sure I'm doing it. However, I have also come up with simpler cues I use to make this happen as well. Being deliberate matters.
    Jim Ross
  • skibugskibug Posts: 1,980
    I truly believe that you need to concentrate on one thing for the gates and one thing in the course. Concentration on any one thing creates focus across the board. Most times if you can concentrate on one thing at the gates and one thing in the course, and by this I mean the same thing through the course, they can cure multiple errors without even thinking about them. And when you pick that one thing....make it simple to remember, one word triggers, and stick to it for that set and see what happens.
    Bob Grizzi
  • ski6jonesski6jones Posts: 820 Crazy Baller
    @skibug said a mouthful there. I'll turn it around and say mental focus in the course is most important. Being aware of what's happening while skiing is generally more important than thinking about a specific aspect of technique. That said when i am really trying to implement/change something my best results are one thing for the gates and one in the course. More than that is to much, plus that technique aids focus.
    Carl Addington, Lakes of Katy, Texas
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