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The value of confidence and 'getting over fear' (for lack of a better word) - Page 6

post #151 of 155
Good read in This Week's Rosie's World on fear
post #152 of 155
Originally Posted by Bob Peters (speaking to Little Tiger)
If you're regularly experiencing paralytic fear while skiing, I would have to wonder whether this is the right sport for you.

I had the opportunity to spend some time skiing with Little Tiger recently, and think it would be highly worthwhile to those who battle fear on any level if I share my experience.

LT has severe proprioception limitations that makes the concept of sliding over snow an intimidating challenge those of us with full spatial awareness of the location of our appendages can barely imagine.

When she was initially considering taking up the sport of skiing many assaulted her with similar advice as Bob Peters did in his above quote; "skiing is not the sport for you,,, you can't do it". Well, she chose not to listen to such negativity, and through the assistance of a group of top notch coaches who also were not born of such a defeatist mentality, went about the task of learning to ski.

Through dedicated training and practice on Little Tiger's part, and the enthusiastic participation of her coaches who were motivated by her tenacity to succeed, LT slowly began developing her skills, and thus her competence and confidence on skis.

Because of her condition fear was always at the doorstep, but her coaches were wise enough to keep new challenges and skill development at a level within here personal tolerance threshold. In doing so, she was able to elevate her skills on her own pace, and gradually what things were once perceived by her as difficult and terrifying became easy and fun.

And oh, how far she has come. I was so impressed with her skill level, and I would suspect those who skied with her at "Let's Go Colorado III" will second my sentiments. LT has a well balanced stance, and carves arc to arc turns beautifully, even on steeper terrain. Such a feel for her skis, she certainly turned some Epic heads.

When she first arrived in Colorado she was a little skittish of the new environment, but through some gentle instruction we gradually got her comfortable with her new surroundings. I subtly introduced her to new terrain and speed, and she was soon arcing high speed turns around the slopes of Summit County in relative comfort at velocities that were before intimidating. The learning process continues.

Before coming to Colo she had never raced, and was deathly afraid of race courses,,, but via a soft intro to them via Jello courses she was soon making her NASTAR debut and in short order got her gold medal and handicap down to 28. Fear quickly turned to enthusiasm, and it was soon harder getting her out of the race course than it initially was getting her into it.

She also went on to conquer more personal fear challenges while she was here,,, getting into bumps, tree runs, and even knee deep powder on the steepest blacks Breck had to offer. Before Colorado, she had a terrible fear of powder, as the lack of pressure feedback it provides removes the tool she uses to compensate for the proprioception limitations she has. But again, through progressive introduction, she discovered that the skill base she's previously developed allowed her to still perform in this sensory diminished environment, and her confidence soared. Big smiles and lobbying for more runs on the black powders.

So,,, the point here is that the message Little Tiger was trying to share in this thread was a good one, and born of personal experience. It also reflects my experience of 30 years of helping young athletes deal with similar issues, in environments that would make most people on the slopes, at their current skill levels, wet themselves. Everyone harbors their own fear thresholds, and the trick to advancing in skill level is keeping new challenges within each individuals personal threshold. Learning happens when a student is comfortable in the immediate environment and can focus on the task. When the comfort level is pushed too far, focus shifts from task to survival, learning stops, and non productive movement patterns can get embedded. If an environment conducive to learning is maintained, skill levels will elevate, and the environments that are considered comfortable will elevate too, often to the surprise of the student.

The lessen that can be taken from Little Tiger's journey with skiing can be of value to student and teacher alike. Those dealing with their own fear, at any level, can come to understand that those fears need not be a barrier to becoming a highly accomplished skier,,, that there is a road to getting there that does not have to involve looking death in the face. There is a comfortable means of raising your performance bar and finding relaxed enjoyment on terrain that today seems intimidating. And the journey getting there can be low stress, low fear, and enjoyable.

And the lesson to instructors is to view students as individuals and label no case a lost cause and attempt to steer them away from the sport, as Bob Peters did above. Skiing is a sport that harbors the potential for much reward for anyone who has the desire to seek it, like LT did. Her success, and the satisfaction she derives from her participation in the sport, is testimony to that. NEVER, as an instructor, be a defeatist and rain on a students desire to learn and enjoy this sport. Use the model LT and her coaches created as inspiration for what is possible, and the understanding of how to get there. Share that inspiration with everyone of your students, regardless the challenges that appear to exist. The satisfaction you derive from their success will rival their own.
post #153 of 155
I think this is one reason the sport is so fascinating to me.

People who have fears of falling or going out of control, some of them anyway, continue to press on and overcome it. It's such a hard sport to do (equipment, weather, expense, relative lack of terrain and conditions these days with GW) yet it's so loved by those who do it. It tests your commitment in so many ways then rewards you sometimes only after years of effort.

ps - I like that term "black powders" - I'll be using that one
post #154 of 155

I'm asking this question because I don't know the answer. Are there occasions when the proper role for the instructor is to "play the heavy" and say "you can't do it" with the intent to motivate the student to prove the instructor wrong?

We hear so many success stories from all walks of life where people credit much of their success to their being told they were doomed to failure. As a coach, I'd hate to do this because your essentially telling the student I don't want to waste my time coaching you and you're pretty much ending the relationship with this kind of statement. My personal preference is to always use a positive approach in my coaching. To me, whenever I get the slightest inkling of "can't do it" in my coaching, it's a red flag that my coaching needs improvement. But the great power of using head games while teaching has put these success stories in the back of my mind as something that I should be prepared to do.
post #155 of 155
Rusty, I'm in your philisophical camp. I try to keep it honest and positive.

While mind F--- games such as this can work, the coach must know the student very well, as the tactic applied to the wrong people runs the risk of actually backfiring and discouraging. And even when the result is as intended, the risk of creating an adversarial relationship between coach and student (in the mind of the student) that can be very difficult for the student to get past is very high. The student can lose faith and trust in the coach with such ploys.

The force that motivates in this strategy is anger and defiance directed toward the coach, and that can make further productive interaction between student/coach difficult, at least until the coach has been proved wrong and the student comes to understand the strategy the coach was employing. Then, if the truth does in fact come out, the tactic loses it's future potential for effectiveness.

I find it better to keep things real. Be honest with the student and develop a relationship bases on trust and confidence. Learn to know the student deeply, in both a mental and physical sense. Understand the students abilities and let your knowledge of their current potential be the basis of your encouraging pushes. Let the students faith in your judgement of their ability, and their recognition of your understanding of how much to push the envelop, be their source of confidence to follow your suggestions to trudge into un-chartered waters with an expectation of a safe and successful outcome.

If they're holding back on a task you know is within their current abilities to perform, a word of positive encouragement from you, and a display of confidence in your eyes in their capacity to accomplish the task at hand, is often all that's required to motivate them to amp up their effort.

Even a reprimand that they can do better can often have a positive effect, without damaging the trust element. Here, the motivation is to live up to the belief the student knows the coach has in him/her,,, to prove the coach right, not wrong. A motivation much healthier for the long term student/coach relationship.

And you bring up another good issue. Bad coaches lay "CAN'T DO" at the feet of their students and walk away to look for a place to attain an easier success. Good coaches take it as a challenge to their own abilities, and keep looking for a better or new way to achieve the "CAN". In decades of coaching I've yet to work with a student who didn't have the potential to aspire to an upper ability tier of the sport,,, and few who didn't succeed. Those who really want it can get it. Little Tiger is walking Epic proof.
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