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Fear . . . itself - Page 2

post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by oboe
When I refer to my own fear, I'm referring to those burnt-in feelings of which a skier might not even be aware but which affect the skier's movements. Some of us have them more than others, and I, uh, fear that I'm one who has them more.
I think that Mermer Blakeslee is on the right track, and I want to focus on that.
Fear...ah yes, I know them well. Real, perceived or not even identified they fill my life with scary shadow not knowing what lies beyond. To embrace requires acknowledgement while overcoming is more than I can imagine. Congratulations on your study and please share what you learn.
Raymond
post #32 of 57

whtmt

With young children, I like to have them pick a stuffed toy, doll, or something else to ski with them. It creates some security and helps them forget they're scared. Keep it FUN and make them also the leader at times. For adults I try to set up the activities, so that they have to participate in a way that they find the answer to what we're trying to learn (ie-guided discovery). Keep moving all the time. Talk slows the process unless it's a clinic for coaches, who know they have to try the task at hand or they may continue to be stuck in their personal rut.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
Can the instructor change a student's internal landscape, if that is a fearful place? Yes, but first you have to be allowed in. To me, the #1 antidote to fear is trust. Build trust and the student will have faith in your teaching.
Trust in the instructor is all-important BUT trust within the students of their own capabilities is where progress is made. So can an instructor change a student's internal landscape? I believe yes over time. In short lessons maybe not so much. "External" aids must be used to achieve temporary "external" trust.

Quite often the trust in the instructor is somewhat superficial and only a very small facet of the over all trusting environment. (Depends of course on the depth of the relationship). A student will trust an instructor in the trusting environment yet the “inner person” fear will rise again should the student’s perception of their environment change abruptly. (Wether real or imagined)

IMHE weekly package lessons are the most interesting experiences (also the most tiring) in the art of amateur psychology and suburban fear. Quite often student’s breakthroughs are not always skiing related. I ponder how many people take something from a ski lesson that they then draw on in everyday situations that they once found fearful. I also ponder how many people go away with their fears reinforced.

Oboe. For fear I always use individual dialogue to point out the features of the place we are currently using. The good bad and the “not over there” places. Chairlift ride discussions are perfect for this.
post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by oboe
Without regard (if this is possible) to teaching technique as such, I'm looking for activities/games/exercises that can temper fear and breed confidence. Any ideas out there?
This is agreat issue to be explored. While we certainly get fear factor issues here in the mid-west, one thing that really struck me when teaching holiday stints in Aspen was how much more people are intimidated by the sheer size of the mountains. I found that a student could actually be on easier terrain that they had skied down lower on the mountain, but in a bit of a panic because of where they were way above the valley, and that effect on their sense of confidence and safety. I think that on smaller hills the normal close proxcimity of the bottom (safety) mitigates this factor to some extent, allthough it still occurs.

Teaching out west, an approach I found useful was to re-direct the students focus from panorama back to where they actually were on the mountain (Vs. way above the valley). By guiding their choice of direction to ski I taught them a deliberate tactic of looking at the terrain near at hand and choosing a path that they could compare to something they knew they had already skied safely. Simply asking them to point out the flattest direction from where you stand and picking a not-to-far point to ski to where you can then repeat the process provides a tactic for skiing safe feeling baby steps down the mountain. Challenging them to look for where the next path might go teaches them to not ski into a more difficult situation and makes a bit of a game when they choose, tell you why, and you give feedback on their choices. This can bring some fun back to the experience.

Safe skiing is so much more than techinique. It depends on making wise choices as well. So teaching the hows, whys, wheres and whens of making wise choices is an important part of the learning experience we provide for our students.
post #35 of 57
This is truly a very interesting post. I am an amateur golfer who has competed at the regional level and I can compare Fear in Golf with Fear in Skiing and how to overcome it. In golf, I have been able to overcome fear but I am still working hard on my skiing

1) Focus on babysteps rather than the whole mission: rather than getting up the slope and looking down at the base, one should instead look at where you want to be after the first turn, second turn, etc. That way you are taking small steps to get to the eventual result. You simplify things that way and the mind is able to react much more efficiently because it has a clear objective.

2) Negativity: That is the most important aspect resulting in fear. In golf, you should never look at "Where not to hit it and what would happen if you do" (Water, trees etc). I can apply the same analogy to skiing. If you look down from the top and see trees, bumps, steeps, other skiers and you are worried about not hitting all of the above mentioned, you have created a recipe for disastor. Instead, focus on the path that you want to take (Step 1) and visualize it before you go and block all the obstacles that you can encounter. The mind is much clearer and I truly believe that you motor responses would be better as well.

Just my 2 Cents worth to this topic. It has worked well for me so hopefully some of you can use it to your advantage as well.

Thx,
post #36 of 57
Help your skier learn to use a self-created "anchor in the storm" as a strategy:

-Find some terrain where they can "go internal" without anxiety.
-Partner with them to find a movement focus they (and you) believe creates a positive change in their skiing.
-Help them create a cue coupling the feelings/sensations they get from their focus
with a word, phrase or sound.
-Encourage them to consistently use that cue as they
-Practice toward continuous replication or mastery of the focus.
-Then, incrementally escalate terrain or task difficulty while they use their cue and focus.
-Finally, help them link their resulting success on the more difficult challenge with the strategy of using a kinesthetic focus and verbal cue to transcend anxiety.

And/or: help them to accept and examine their fears by encouraging them to continually evaluate perceived vs. actual risk in a variety of skiing situations (what a life skill!)
post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
Can the instructor change a student's internal landscape, if that is a fearful place? Yes, but first you have to be allowed in. To me, the #1 antidote to fear is trust. Build trust and the student will have faith in your teaching.
this is so true. I often overlook this, and while I'm still in full "break down the fear mode" they are chirping away happily that this is fun and can we try a blue or a black now?!
post #38 of 57
I think that it would be great if PSIA could add a new skill to skiing and call it just this Fear.

I have found that teaching skiing is not just about the movements of skiing, understanding the wax, the equipment, or just biomechanics, it is very much involved in the understanding very important things about how the body reacts to its environment both consciously, and unconsciously. There are very real and easily understandable reactions to the physiological vs. environmental challenges of skiing.

Fear is defined as an unrational response to the unknown.

So in skiing the unknown is what? Speed, Steeps, Control, etc. But if you think about it most people are not as afraid of skiing under a lift when compared to skiing on a steep icy slope with no body else around, Why?

It is environmental. We completely glaze over the incredible power of balance and how instinctive balance, is not so instinctive. We learn this balance when we are very young and it learned so well it finally becomes unconscious. The only time our balance even enters our conscious is when we are in the process of loosing balance. The unconscious balancing efforts that are made on our behalf by our proprioceptive system are such a powerful negative in skiing. Instructors owe it to guests to understand this part of the body and help people LEARN to balance to the environmental situations at hand. By this I mean help people need to understand what is holding them back, or in other words explain where fear comes from. And that it is a completely normal HUMAN condition. Only experiencing balance in new successful ways can change the channel in the brain to the calm and relaxed channel.

It comes from our instinctive unconscious want and desire to stand the way the trees grow no matter what happens. We learn this from very young ages that if you want to be vertical you must remain parallel to the force of gravity, no matter what the world does below you. So we are all tuned into the gravity channel at a very unconscious level. It is only by releasing this desire that you will free yourselves from this "fear". Or is it just the balance alarms going off. The ones that tell you that you are about to fall flat on your ass when walking on ice. Or the one that rings when you drive over a bump and you get a stomach flip. Or the one that goes off when you are sleeping in the car and someone hits the brakes. Our bodies are so aware of our surroundings and we make many movements based only on our bodies instinctive balancing parts. Once they are recalibrated to the surroundings and things are made apparent people that once were paralyzed by fear can begin to enjoy the most free part of our game the ability to bend the laws of gravity as we know them for just a little while.[quote]
post #39 of 57
From Mike_M: "Fear is the absence of options."
post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant
Confidence can break down the fear. Faith in their skills, that certain things WILL give certain results (turning, stopping, slowing).
That is it! For those of us who are not fearless, we have to trust that execution of the right skill will keep us from getting hurt - not stopping, going too fast, etc. Trust gives us true confidence and ultimately expands the comfort zone.
post #41 of 57
For me, immersion therapy has been the best. Try something really scary and anything easier seems easy. I have had the benefit of a cruel friend who made a habit of leading me in over my head. I hate to admit to using this successfully in a lesson, but I accidentally scared a student the other day. When we returned to more appropriate terrain, she was so calm, cool, and confident. Probably not the best technique to assure the comfort and safety of your students, but I think it works.
post #42 of 57
Thread Starter 
"fear: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger."Whether "awareness of danger" or "perception of danger" or "anticipation of danger", not all fear is rational or irrational - but all fear is a real feeling.
post #43 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredat40
For me, immersion therapy has been the best. Try something really scary and anything easier seems easy. I have had the benefit of a cruel friend who made a habit of leading me in over my head. I hate to admit to using this successfully in a lesson, but I accidentally scared a student the other day. When we returned to more appropriate terrain, she was so calm, cool, and confident. Probably not the best technique to assure the comfort and safety of your students, but I think it works.
It may "work" sometimes, but other times, it #ucks up a person for life. Easy on the "immersion", please!
post #44 of 57
oboe... perhaps it's words. semantics.

when I talk to learners I guide them with questions: what is your goal for this lesson? what do you do well? what would you like to improve upon? etc etc

I never talk about being scared or afraid of things... I do talk about how things feel. Something might feel good or bad. We also discuss how anything new is going to feel bad simply because it's different.

Like Nolo... I build trust. I use the chair rides. I ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions.

I have found that it's not about a game... it's about focussing one's attention. I get them thinking about want they want to do and how they want to do - occupying their mind to the extent that they don't think about their fears/anxieties because they're totally focused on a particular exercise or feeling.

I also will ski closely to the learner giving them prompts and lots of encouragement - this is a positive distraction.

Perhaps this could work for you...
kiersten
post #45 of 57

the gift

This is not a "technique". It's just meant to give a bit of insight. I realized that 97% of my internal demons were generated by fear of failure.

Something hit me at about the age of 45 or so. I realized that I was just a dumb klutz approaching middle age and that no one expected me to do well.

So .... I stopped giving a hoot about what people thought (translation is that my ego stopped tripping me up).

Skiing improved .... karate improved ... I was just happy to be doing what I was doing since there wasn't much expected of me and I stopped expecting and measuring and metering and comparing.

When I sense this (timid ... or ego thing) in a student, I try to get across the idea of just skiing for the joy of it. I have met few "naturals" in this sport and 97% were hackers who just worked at it for awhile.
post #46 of 57
Thread Starter 
Kiersten and yuki, thanks for that input. Yes, I think many if not most of us use "chair talk" with the guest, and yes, fear of failure is one of the demons in the bag of fears. Although I rarely if ever use the word "fear", it's definitely a huge consideration. I tell all students, borrowing from the rhymes and rhythms of Johnny Cochran, "If it don't feel strange, you will not change." After all, they've come to us to do something better, more - DIFFERENT. Of, course, it will FEEL different.

However, in addition to the wonderful input posted in this thread - and THANK YOU, all - I'm looking for activities or "games" that will allow the student to get "the feeling" while feeling safe - games that will allow a progression toward greater comfort where once there was fear. As an example, at Smugglers' Notch on a blue trail, near the end, there is a very steep dip. It's a built-in trick, though: The steep downhill pitch is followed by an uphill pitch - yes, uphill. Unless the skier barrels doen the steep pitch at full speed, the skier will not glide up the hill and will need to walk. If the skier DOES barrel down the steep pitch at full speed, there is no danger - the uphill pitch will slow the skier to a very comfortable speed. Using this steeper pitch, skiers safely and comfortably can "feel speed". If we do this three times during one hour and a half lesson, the student takes away the thrill of speed, not the fear of speed - and the knowledge that going up hill slows the skier, sometimes to a stop.

This is one of the "activities" or "games" I use, and I'm looking for more. Thanks again for all the great input, and I'd love to read more!

By the way, speaking of Johnny Cochran, he has been one of our guests and newbie ski students. Funny! The guy has a self-deprecating sense of humor. This story later.
post #47 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by oboe
As an example, at Smugglers' Notch on a blue trail, near the end, there is a very steep dip. It's a built-in trick, though: The steep downhill pitch is followed by an uphill pitch - yes, uphill. Unless the skier barrels doen the steep pitch at full speed, the skier will not glide up the hill and will need to walk. If the skier DOES barrel down the steep pitch at full speed, there is no danger - the uphill pitch will slow the skier to a very comfortable speed. Using this steeper pitch, skiers safely and comfortably can "feel speed". If we do this three times during one hour and a half lesson, the student takes away the thrill of speed, not the fear of speed - and the knowledge that going up hill slows the skier, sometimes to a stop.
This sounds remarkably like immersion therapy. The fact that you judge it to be safe doesn't mean that it doesn't cause fear. I would also caution you that there is no skiing situation in which there is "no danger".

I brought up the issue of pushing fear boundaries because I know that is how I have quickly built my own confidence in skiing and mountain biking. I have seen success with this as an instructor (so far, not by intent), but I want to know the instructor's responsibility in this regard. We are frequently making judgements on safety, so I suspect that it is part of that judgement call. The easiest way to deal with an irrational fear is to have the person prove it irrational to themselves. At the earliest learning levels, we have people sliding on skis in a state of fear. Once they prove to themselves that they can stop, they become comfortable with that level. At higher levels, we might be facing the fear of speed from your example. Setting up or finding reasonably safe environments in which to confront fears seems like a highly effective technique. Trust allows people to be talked into trying something, but it doesn't usually eliminate the fear. Success eliminates the fear, but not always on the first try.

The more rational fears, on the other hand, can't be approached this way. For example, I am afraid of cliffs/drops. I think my fear is reasonable and I won't be talked into the just do it approach. This will require a more slow process of building confidence.

So, is it ethical to deliberately scare the customer? Are other instructors doing this as directly and intentionally as your speed run? Are there personal guidelines that any of you use to make these judgements (e.g., stop when their eyes are bigger than their goggles)?
post #48 of 57
Interesting threrad. Fear has been a problem for me and I tried to attack it with my summer reading. Read the "Yikes Zone" but got more out of "Inner Skiing". When he described the inner voices filled with fears-- about looking bad, falling, and everything in between-- I thought he was listening in on my brain. The positive message I got from that book was that without the nagging voices of doubts and fears my body could learn from the experience of skiing (or rollerblading) and make corrections.
Games. For me I replaced the fear voice with simply concentrating on where something was-- my edges, the swing of my hips, anything pphysical I could just notice without comment or thinking. Not a real game but a head game. Another I use this year when I am on steep terrain (often littered with icy spots) is to plan one or two turns ahead of where I'm skiing. I don't look all the way down and I ski without thinking or worriying about it. I had a lesson in the sun under the lift where we made turns around the reflections of the chairs. Stopping and looking down over a steep messes me up so I usually keep going. Somewhere I read about not spending more time looking at a run than it takes to ski it.
And of course some of the fear is real and I need to listen to it but I don't think that's what you mean.
post #49 of 57
Thread Starter 
Very good points, and well made, retiredat40. Thanks for picking me up on that.

In the case of that steep hill with a steep uphill runout, I tell them what to expect. To my recollection, no one ever has deliberately slowed on the downhill pitch to the extent that they need to walk on the uphill pitch.

If that's "total immersion", it can work! I do agree on the cliff jumping thing, but I know that even that kind of situation can be done is set up right - a lot of baby steps leading up to it, a small (say, two foot "cliff"), etc.
post #50 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by oboe
As an example, at Smugglers' Notch on a blue trail, near the end, there is a very steep dip.
Which trail is this, oboe?
post #51 of 57
Thread Starter 
Hi, chanwmr! I only got to say hi to you when you and your beautiful child passed my class. I wish we'd had a chance to make few turns together that weekend. Maybe next time!

Near the end of Lower Rumrunner, there's a "fork in the road" near the end of the flats. There's sort of a wide open "clearing" there. To stay on the trail and go straight, you'd be heading directly toward a yellow "slow" sign and the lodge. Don't go straight. Take a left turn at the fork, the dip is right there. Do allow yourself to get up to full speed - because otherwise, you'll be hiking up the uphill pitch. After the uphill pitch, you'll be heading right for the base of the Sterling lift.
post #52 of 57
Oboe, I know exactly where the spot is and how you use it in your instruction. I was thinking more towards the Black Snake side. Those "blue" drops at the end before the Practice Slope can be very threatening to casual intermediates. Then again, there is no uphill after that so I thought I must be wrong. Speaking of fear, IMHO, Smuggs has some of the scariest blues anywhere. What do you think?

BTW, sorry that I missed a chance to ski with you what we were there. With the 23 or so inches, we had a great week. Who would have thunk that most of it got washed away the week after. We really lucked out.
post #53 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by oboe
In the case of that steep hill with a steep uphill runout, I tell them what to expect. To my recollection, no one ever has deliberately slowed on the downhill pitch to the extent that they need to walk on the uphill pitch.

If that's "total immersion", it can work! I do agree on the cliff jumping thing, but I know that even that kind of situation can be done is set up right - a lot of baby steps leading up to it, a small (say, two foot "cliff"), etc.
Oboe - as someone who used to have a great fear of exactly that situation - only not so steep & very short.... I can say that NO attempt to make me ski it ever worked - I climbed up the climb repeatedly rather than let the skis go down straight (we are talking about 3 years here).... you can ask ant - it is piddly (basin ant - down road side but from top of hill to T-bar rather than road - actually I insisted on turns on the road too)....

The only way we got over it (& the way that solved the speed fear problem in general) was when my (then new) instructor thought to ask me why I found it so terrifying when I happily skied a fair bit faster doing medium radius turns on another trail.... i had to explain that I hated the feeling of a flat ski running... it scared the crap out of me.... while I quite enjoyed the feeling of skiing on my ski edges - because i felt it was easier to stop or change direction of turn than to do so on flat skis at speed...

In the end he agreed with me it was a 'nicer' feeling to ski on the edges & promptly set about teaching me edge-rolls & long turns & convincing me to edge-roll the cat tracks etc for practice.... now 3-4 years later I was happy to learn to ski a flat ski... but still not really liking the feeling.... but it took that long for me to be comfortable with the feelings....

Ok - the cliff thing.... 2 feet may seem small steps to you.... I can tell you that my idea of small steps was closer to 2 inches! In fact to get me to ski over a 6 inch "jump" (no skis off snow - just up & down) my instructor had to let me ski a turn around it a few times first.... just to feel the surrounding terrain... that was my brains idea of small steps .... rather than decide what small is it is better to ask the client...

and it may change from day to day....my instructor used to swear that some days I got up on the "today we ski" side of the bed - he could ski me all the stuff within my technical ability with no trauma ... other days I got up on the "super chicken" side & refused to move down stuff I had skied repeatedly the day or two before..... I was never able to explain the difference - sometimes the panic just sets in & you can barely move a finger let alone a foot/leg
post #54 of 57

fear

One of the games that I would use with kids and adults that had hit a low/mid range block was skating down the fall line of a very easy trail, best on an open meadow where they had a huge comfort zone.

This got them to control speed and got them to commit the whole range of body motion down the hill while feeling the edging/carve of each ski.

I would demo ..... just like ice skating .... big push with the right, left, right ... as hard a you can. Start with five or six big "skates" and stop, but keep increasing the number till they are used to the exercise and are ski/skating darned near the whole meadow.
post #55 of 57
Oboe, thanks for a thread that had good timing for me. You really have me thinking about my student's fear and my own. In general, I think we lead our students into things that scare them. We talk them into trying things based on trust. We try to manage their fear through both distraction and focus. We help them have successes which builds confidence. I suspect we even find students like Disski who demonstrate frustrating fluctuations in their fear. Hey, how about clunking the student over the head with a ski pole. Would that work? Well, I guess I do the same in mountain biking. Some days I will try anything, other days I am filled with inexplicable fear.

As far as the cliff suggestion, I agree. I am looking for that 2-4 footer in powdery conditions, but I have not been strategic about it. I just ski until I find something and inevitably its too much to try. I won't find these opportunities locally. We are heading west in March, but I keep telling myself to work on jumps for now - still pretty much earthbound in my skiing.

But now we have no snow, the season is on hold, and I'm back to spending too much time on the internet.
post #56 of 57
retiredat40.... my instructor has actually tried ski poles with success....:

he is very strong on maintaining discipline in skiing when scared (works well as long as I am not so scared I try to freeze up)...
when I kept doing stuff I was not supposed to do he suggested he should "wrap pole around butt" made me laugh & kept me trying to do correct thing....

He would say I was scared of being hurt or out of control- so why would I do something that gives me LESS control than I would have normally skiing....

If I get a bit worried I THINK about those comments & his threat & it tends to remind me that I need to ski as I normally would no matter how the situation worries me...
post #57 of 57
[quote=mosh]Fear is defined as an unrational response to the unknown.
Oh yeah? tell a 20 yr old hugging the underbrush with shells coming down how unresonable and irrational fear is. Take a deap breath and rethink the rational mind.
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