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Mental vs. Physical

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
What percentage of skiing is mental & what percentage is physical?

I'm in much worse shape than when I started skiing 5 years ago,(desk job) yet I feel much less tired at the end of a day of skiing than before, even though I'm skiing more difficult terrain.

Does this mean that skiing is largely mental?
post #2 of 29
Quote:
Does this mean that skiing is largely mental?
No. So far I haven't been able to talk people into being better skiers. This is unfortunate as it might save a lot of time and money. They usually have to do things before they get better. Even many drinks, the company of others and a lot of talk fail to show substantial improvement in one's skiing. A lot of people try the bar talk thing though, but I still haven't seen it work out...

Hmmm, talk therapy for skiing improvement.....

Seriously though, there is a large mental aspect to the sport. I do think you can improve by talking and reading (as on this site)---BUT it doesn't do any good if you don't physically do it.

In racing there is a lot of mental stuff.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'm really talking more about mental visualization, mental attitude, mental relaxation, mental focus, mental intent, mental understanding of the laws of physics, etc etc
post #4 of 29
In my opinion other than Golf (which I do not play) skiing is the most mental sport, at least 75% mental.

How else can we explain how one day you ski lousy and nothing you try improves you skiing, while other days in the same conditions you can do no wrong.

Also the mental uplift from skiing an easier trail can rescue a day that is not working and allow you to attack (and ski well) a slope that you've had trouble with all day.
post #5 of 29
Beginner skier = 95% physical and 5% mental.

Expert skier = 5% physical and 95% mental.
post #6 of 29
When I'm working at my office I'm often mentally skiing and it's total 100%...seriously I believe a skier can improve a lot and do things they never thought they could do by mentally visualizing and developing a confident attitude. Check out the Kristen Ulmer clinic post even if you're not interested in going, just because this topic is the focus of the clilnic program.
post #7 of 29
agree with NewHampie. there've been times when i felt i had made improvement between ski trips by focused visualization.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by droldman:
...

What percentage of skiing is mental & what percentage is physical?

With apologies to Yogi...

Skiing is 90% mental and the other half is physical.

Bob
post #9 of 29
If skiing is so much mental, what's the point of practicing on groomers for skiing advanced terrain? Skiing advanced terrain is definitely a mental hurdle to overcome- staring down really steep terrain, believing you can do it etc.. I'd say for advanced skiers skiing difficult terrain is mostly a mental hurdle since they often have the skills already.

What one often needs to do is get the mind the hell out of the way and let the body take care of things. The body can't do it if it's never done it before- therefore practice. Physical practice.
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
TOG

Getting the conscious mind out of the way is a mental skill.
post #11 of 29
For me the aspect that makes the greatest impact on my skiing is my physical condition. If my core is not strong and to a lesser extent my legs are not strong coupled with a supple musculature my skiing suffers. Years where I have worked on my core strength have allowed me to ski with more power and fluididty.
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Maineac:
For me the aspect that makes the greatest impact on my skiing is my physical condition. If my core is not strong and to a lesser extent my legs are not strong coupled with a supple musculature my skiing suffers. Years where I have worked on my core strength have allowed me to ski with more power and fluididty.
Words of wisdom. and from a Sugarloafer too. You rule, Maineiac! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
Beginner skier = 95% physical and 5% mental.

Expert skier = 5% physical and 95% mental.
I don't know about experts, but i definitely think that skiing for beginners is far more mental than physical. How else could those green runs have seemed so steep as a beginner? It frankly does not take much physical conditioning to learn beginning skiing, just a modest sense of balance. The fact that one can ski harder terrain with less fatigue can be easily explained by improved efficiency in technique.

I have always thought that to ski well at a more advanced level does require one to be in good physical condition. However, I never felt that skiing itself was a very good way to get or stay physically fit.
post #14 of 29
No doubt some of our spouses and significant others believe that we who devote so much of our time and obsessive energy to all this skiing discussion must be mental.
post #15 of 29
New Hampie wrote

When I'm working at my office I'm often mentally skiing and it's total 100%...seriously I believe a skier can improve a lot and do things they never thought they could do by mentally visualizing and developing a confident attitude. Check out the Kristen Ulmer clinic post even if you're not interested in going, just because this topic is the focus of the clilnic program.

Read "The Centered Skier" by Denise McCluggage, one of the best books on teaching around. She talks about racers visualizing a complete race against the clock and their mental times were within ticks of their actual times.

The fact that it is so mental helps equipment makers (as with golf) sell new gear. Its also why like golfers we are so gear oriented.
post #16 of 29
As one of the worlds most egregious equipment whores, the "mental" goes way beyond equipment. The Centered Skier is my favorite. On any equipment, visualization is POWERFUL. But you gotta remember to DO IT!
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by ihavethesecret:
When you've been skiing and you get home and sit in a relaxing warm bath, close your eyes and replay the day's events, and it's like you're right back there, so vivid are the memories? You don't simply remember, you FEEL it. That's what is meant by that phrase that was discussed on here a while back: "We learn to ski in summer". It's a meditative state born of the marriage of the physical and mental beings. It is a higher consciousness.

.
Ummm - if you are saying FEELING it is mental - sorry strike
that...
I can't 'visualise' a movement at all - then again I don't KNOW it when I do it either...

However REPLAY is a strong suite... I FEEL myself skiing all over again more often than not & almost certainly any time I am challenged in my lesson... It requires NO MENTAL SKILL or effort - my body simply does it (replays input from sensory nerves) ... I presume in an attempt to 'decode' the mess & make some sense of it...
It makes me feel a little 'seasick' most times - as my eyes & ears know I am not skiing but my feet(especially) & body SWEAR I am... also there is confusing input like feeling feet going over a bump or jumping while my thighs can clearly feel the chair I'm seated on...
post #18 of 29
Maybe we can't answer the question. There's no question that the mental aspect is a big part of the sport but how do you really say how much is mental or physical?
Perhaps sports such as golf, and baseball are a little more susceptable to mental interference because of the stop/start nature of the activity. I mean you've got to wait for the pitch to come in and think about it, just like you have time to think about the next golf shot.
What does a team do when it's the end of the game and the other team needs to kick a field goal? They call a time out to give the kicker time to think about it. So the kicker needs to mentally be focused, but if he can't kick well it doesn't really matter anyway.

Quote:
Getting the conscious mind out of the way is a mental skill-droldman
Yes, but the point is that you're getting it out of the way so the body can do what it knows from -physical- practice.

Sure visualization is great but visualizing yourself as Picabo Street or whomever coming down the course won't make your turns any better technically. It may help make a much better run, but ideally you'd be doing both visualization and physical practice.
post #19 of 29
Skiing is 100% physical, 100% mental, 100% spiritual... maybe even mystical! To try to define proportions for any one of these aspects is simply not possible.

Consider the classic helicopter manuvere. The physical execution is easy. Pop off the jump, spin, land, ski away. End of story.

What do you have to call upon to pass through that moment when you turn your back to the world? You've heard it: "spin with the hips". "Lead with the head". "Breathe through your left ear if you spin right, through your right ear if you spin left". At the end of the day, we don't need more technical instruction to do a helicopter, we just need to say "dammit, I'm just going to do it!!"

That's why snowboarding gained quick popularity. In the beginning, there was no textbook for teaching snowboarding. The riders just tried everything they could imagine. They didn't always know how they did these things, they just did it. In the end, what really counts... knowing HOW to do a given something, or actually DOING that something?

I use a computer a fair bit, as do the rest of you, quite obviously. Do you really know HOW your computer works (I know, some of you actually do), or do you just accept that it simply works? I'm one who hasn't got a clue how I can sit here in my little home office in the rocky mountains of Canada, and with the click of a mouse, send my thoughts across the entire planet. For better or for worse, I simply accept that this thing works, even though I haven't the foggiest idea how. Sure, I could learn, but I don't need to. I go on faith.

Sometimes when you're skiing, you have to do the same. Skiing, at any level, is a leap of faith. For the beginner, it's that first hesitant venture into the fall line. The committment to the downhill ski, the rush of wind in the face, and learning to trust that you will survive this moment. A little bit scared, the hormones a-flowin'... and whoosh! We arc the skis, maybe not gracefully, but enough to get the chemical stimulus from our central nervous system that whispers... " that was cool! do it again".

Was it physical? Yes it was. The chemical stimulus has to come from somewhere. Was it mental? Yes it was. We have to rationalize our actions and make the commitment to go for it. Was it spiritual? Yes it was. "Oh-My-God, here I go!!!!"

Anybody mountain bike out there? You know when you've been on a long ride, and you get done, load everything into the car, hop in and start driving home... and your foot feels like it's "clipped in" to the gas pedal?

When you've been skiing and you get home and sit in a relaxing warm bath, close your eyes and replay the day's events, and it's like you're right back there, so vivid are the memories? You don't simply remember, you FEEL it. That's what is meant by that phrase that was discussed on here a while back: "We learn to ski in summer". It's a meditative state born of the marriage of the physical and mental beings. It is a higher consciousness.

As Shivas Irons said in Michael Murphy's book "Golf in the Kingdom": it's the new yoga of the supermind. Yoga, in the ancient Sanskrit means "union"... a union of the mind, body, spirit in perfect balance. Now relax, you don't have to stick your little toe in your ear to be a great skier!

It might be summed up in a little phrase I heard from a bit of an eccentric golfer I once had the privilege of meeting.

"Imagination times vividness equals reality in the subconscious".

That guy's name is Moe Norman, and if you're a true golfer, you know who he is. Everything you've heard about him is pretty much true!

How about Hermann Maier? Remember seeing him cartwheeling his way down the Olympic DH at Nagano? What a horrific crash! Ordinary folks could concievably die in that situation. Hermann shakes the snow out of his ass and a few days later, wins the gold in Super-G.

More recently, he nearly loses his life in a motorcycle crash, doctors debate his ability to WALK again, sits out for over a year, then after little more than 2 weeks of on-snow training, throws up a seventh and a first in his first couple races back. Take that! he says.

Strong mind, strong body, strong spirit.
post #20 of 29
What about 'emotional' - What roles do our emotions play in this 'mental' we speak of?
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Tog:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> Does this mean that skiing is largely mental?
No. So far I haven't been able to talk people into being better skiers. This is unfortunate as it might save a lot of time and money. They usually have to do things before they get better. Even many drinks, the company of others and a lot of talk fail to show substantial improvement in one's skiing. A lot of people try the bar talk thing though, but I still haven't seen it work out...

Hmmm, talk therapy for skiing improvement.....

Seriously though, there is a large mental aspect to the sport. I do think you can improve by talking and reading (as on this site)---BUT it doesn't do any good if you don't physically do it.

In racing there is a lot of mental stuff.
</font>[/quote]Tog, I've got to disagree with the first paragraph here as my experience both for myself and others I've skied with is contrary. I've seen a number of people make quite dramatic (measurable) improvements relatively instantaneously based on talk, the company of others, and yes, even drinks. That's not to say that all, or even most, improvements are made this way but it certainly is an important component of learning in my book.

On the other hand, I also think that it only get's locked in by doing it repetively.
post #22 of 29
I think ihavethesecret really does.

Thanks for a rich and beautiful post.
post #23 of 29
Yes, as always, Ihavethesecret brings to light the poetry involved in our sport. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
I too agree with Ihavethesecret especially with regards to his statement:

It's a meditative state born of the marriage of the physical and mental beings. It is a higher consciousness.

...called by some "being in the zone"
post #25 of 29
ihavethesecret,

I have a wonderful "Moe" story. He was sitting in a golf cart with his sidekick Nick Weslock at a golf tournament outside Toronto. A golfer aced a 180 yard par three and the small group nearby, quite naturally, went nuts. Nick turned to Moe and said, "Moe, what did you think of that?" Moe looked off as he does when answering and said in his inimitable way, "that's where he was aimed!"

For those of you who don't know "Moe" is arguably the greatest ball striker that ever lived and a Canadian treasure.

There comes a point in every lesson when I describe to students my story of peas and a fork. It goes something like this. If you have lived in a land where you have only used chopsticks and never seen peas it would be hard to describe the mechanics of eating a plate of peas if they were put in front of you. Do you stab the slippery little things or slip them on to a fork tine?

I suppose you would hope for a visual learner.

I cannot describe very succinctly how to use a fork to eat peas. It's easier to demonstrate. If the peas are fresh, properly cooked, and litely seasoned they'll be devoured.

Peas and Moe Norman??????
post #26 of 29
Well, to return to the original question, I know that much of the physical effort expended while developing skiing skills is inappropriate. Energy is lost on counter productive muscle use. Tension is a big one here. As one refines balance and muscle use, less effort is needed. The correct physical action is brought into play, and unneeded muscles are allowed to rest. One can end a day on the slopes less tired.

Ski smarter, not harder!

I do not attribute this to "Mental Smarts" . I believe a very good skier could be as dumb as a tree stump. This is a case of "body smarts" like many athletic activities. We can ski "smart" like an animal moves "smart". Efficient movement patterns are "learned" by the nervous system. Our thinking brain could not process the signals rapidly enough to direct proper movements.

Visualization and mental processing of anticipated situations can go a long way towards this learning process. If suprise, startle and fear are removed before hand, the sensations and responses will have a clear channel for exchange.

Skiing starts where thinking stops.

Good skiing starts when enjoyment is at a peak.

Regards

CalG
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
Beginner skier = 95% physical and 5% mental.

Expert skier = 5% physical and 95% mental.
thassafackJack!
post #28 of 29
Quote:
How about Hermann Maier? Remember seeing him cartwheeling his way down the Olympic DH at Nagano? What a horrific crash! Ordinary folks could concievably die in that situation. Hermann shakes the snow out of his ass and a few days later, wins the gold in Super-G. Ihavethesecret
There's a lot of those too. Recently I read about Ingemar Stenmark taking a serious crash in September ('79?)during training. The concussion was so bad he was foaming at the mouth and having spasms. Later that season he won golds at the Olympics. Then there's Phil Mahre who at the same Olympics had a plate with seven screws in it in his ankle.

Quote:
I've seen a number of people make quite dramatic (measurable) improvements relatively instantaneously based on talk, the company of others, and yes, even drinks. - Si
Yeah I'd believe that. That's a situation where they've acquired the skills for the terrain you're skiing but have no faith that they can do it. The company of others and talking them into being comfortable with it makes the difference. Of course the same thing happens to skiers at all levels. An instructor is often just there to give them confidence.

They didn't acquire the skill though by talking about it. Again, what's the point of practicing on easy groomers for off piste skiing or racing if it's all mental?

So I'd agree with Ihavethesecret here:
Quote:
Skiing is 100% physical, 100% mental, 100% spiritual... maybe even mystical! To try to define proportions for any one of these aspects is simply not possible
[ March 14, 2003, 08:44 AM: Message edited by: Tog ]
post #29 of 29
Props to the people who even think about this topic.

The game has components - mental, physical, nutritional, motivational, etc. I advocate using them all and especially videos to supplement time spent off the hill.

If an out of shape expert can smoke a fit beginner, what's the diff? ...probably the mental game.
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