Oftentimes golfers have what they call a "swing thought" to get themselves psyched to swing at the ball properly. It's a way to quiet all the distractions in your brain and get it to focus on the One Thing that you believe will be most helpful at that moment before executing the complicated action of the golf swing, which has too many moving parts that have to come together in this critical action to think about and do the swing.
Skiing is like that, except the action is repeated with greater frequency, and many of us have something like a "swing thought" to get prepared for the run. The topic has been discussed on EpicSki -- "Clear and Focused Thoughts Make for Better Turns" is a good starting point if you want to delve deeper. (If you do a search put quotations around "swing thought" for better results. That applies to anything you search for here.)
For myself, it's so important to have something useful to replace the noise in my head. In her book A Conversation with Fear, Mermer Blakeslee calls the voice of negative self talk the Nag, and the voice of supportive self talk the Coach.
Everybody needs a good internal Coach. By that I mean a knowledgeable coach who gives you the right swing thought for the task ahead. Attaboys are nice, but sound advice is priceless.
Certainly you can get coaching from others, and I recommend it heartily. Virtually all professional golfers have coaches -- swing coaches, sport psychologists, physical trainers, nutritionists -- but when they step up to the ball, they are all alone, just like you and me. Despite all the outside coaching you may have, when it comes down to doing, the most important coach you have is you.
Yet how many of us have stepped up to the challenge of consciously coaching ourselves, and how many of us are still on the receiving end of reactive, inconsistent and hypercritical coaching from an ignorant and inexperienced loudmouth? Let's be honest. The Nag is an inconsiderate bitch. How can her denigrating commentary ever foster excellence?
I believe "How to Be Your Own Best Coach" is the most important thing a teacher can impart. I've said it before but it bears repeating: the only ethical goal of instruction is student independence. You don't need a sycophant. You need a collaborative coach whose main concern is graduating you to independence, which means building up your self-coaching skills as part of the overall package.
Teachers, are you listening? Are you allowing time for the student to learn how to self-coach what was learned in the lesson, or are you leaving him or her half-taught? (You can see the half-taught going back to their habits within hours of a lesson.) Also, people ski the way they think they should ski. Make sure you check your student's understanding before you close to correct any misconceptions.
How would you teach someone to self-coach?
How can you tell that you're progressing in your self-coaching skills?
What do you think is the most important aspect of self-coaching?
Do you agree that this is a vast untapped reserve of strength in most skiers?
Edited by nolo - 7/11/11 at 8:14am