Get Some Grit – To Reach Your Skiing Goals

Training for skiing should be fun, after all it’s still skiing! But sometimes we can go down a training black hole where it feels like you’re working so hard and getting no where (at least I know I do!).  We can avoid this trap by being purposeful about our training, and looking to psychology can help us do it.

There’s a wealth of knowledge in the psychology literature which we can harness to optimize our ski training routine.  Psychologists develop evidence-based concepts which can be applied to everyday life.  For example, one powerful concept developed by Angela Duckworth is known as Grit. Grit is defined as the combination of passion and perseverance, and is a characteristic shared by high achievers in all fields of human endeavor.

We can use Angela’s insights to develop grittiness in ourselves, and supercharge the efficacy of our training program.  Unlike the idea that people are born with a fixed amount of talent, grit is something which we can grow and develop. Before starting work on our grit, it is vital to have the belief that with hard work we can make the changes we want.  This belief is referred to in psychology as a ‘growth mindset’ (a topic for another time). To develop grit in our selves we need to follow four simple steps

1: Pick An Interest

If you are spending your free time reading ski technique and psychology blogs (or writing them), then it is safe to assume we have found our interest!

2: Big Picture 

Stepping back and defining your big dream helps to give motivation when the goals become hard. When looking at the big picture, think about it critically.  Take the time to consider why this big picture appeals to you.  Most importantly consider if it something that you want for yourself, or is it something you think you should achieve based on the expectations of others. It is vital that our goals are intrinsically motivated, because this will help to persevere towards them.

3: Create Clear Goals 

Once you’ve defined your overall big picture, it’s time to set clear mini goals to help you get there. What can you do today, this week, this month, to help work towards your big picture? Professor Duckworth tells us there is no mini goal too small. Breaking your goal into bite sized pieces makes it more achievable and easier to make progress.  We can’t be on snow 24/7 (unfortunately), but that doesn’t mean we can’t work towards our goals. Maybe we can do dryland training, watch a video or reference the drill library to help deepen your understanding of technique.

4: Go All In  

Now that you have a solid plan, it is time to commit! You need to work on deliberate practice on specific sub goals. Deliberate practice means that you focus on only one thing at a time, using shorter focused training. This type of practice has been shown to be more effective than longer sessions, as long as the short sessions are done with laser focus.  In the context of skiing, this might be only 1-2 hours of training at a time. It is a huge benefit to have immediate feedback during this focused training.  This feedback might come from a coach, from what is happening with your ski on the snow, or through an online coaching tool.

Finally, training is always easier with a buddy, and this an idea backed up by psychologists as well. We achieve more when we work towards a goal with someone else. If you don’t have someone nearby, then forums and and online communities can be the next best thing.

So let us know, what is your big picture? Can you see a way of using the concept of grit to up your training game?

You can learn more about Grit from Professor Duckworth’s book at the following link

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4 months ago

Thank you for this article, Helen. When it comes to skiing the passion is pretty easy. The perseverance can be tough, especially when a ski season gets taken out by events beyond our control! For the past several months of non-skiing, the focus has been on building strength and fitness. One aspect that is I’m becoming aware of is a tendency for certain muscle groups to stop engaging – either due to incorrect habitual movement patterns, past injuries or age associated decreased levels of activity. Classic examples highly relevant to skiing being feet and the posterior muscle chain, especially glutes/hamstrings,… Read more »

3 months ago

Great article Helen. A couple of excellent books I’ve read on the subject are ‘Training The Mind For Athletic Success,’ by Dr. Jim Taylor and ‘The Pressure Principle,’ by Dr. Dave Alred.

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