THE MENTAL DIFFERENCE
by Chuck Martin


"IT IS NOT JUST THE BEST ATHLETES WHO WIN;

IT IS THE BEST PREPARED ATHLETES WHO WIN"


Looking at all the great mogul skiers on the Blackcomb glacier you have to ask yourself what makes one of these skiers a champion, because they are all technically awesome.

"The champion is the skier that can lay down a perfect run during the 30 seconds that count!"

Of course, it is important to be in top physical condition to avoid injury and to be #1, but the most important element in your training is a champion's attitude.

THE CHAMPION'S TRAINING ATTITUDE!

Champions set long-term goals, but they do not dwell on them when they are on the training site. The only way to reach your long-term goals is to set short-term goals along the way. Every morning on the training hill, we should set goals and objectives for the day. One turn, aerial maneuver, mogul, workout, mistake, competition, National title, World Cup event, World Championship Title, Olympic medal at a time.

"If your mind is dwelling on the future then you are not concentrating 100% on your training now in the moment!"

" Goals are not the end of your training, they are only the beginning of the next step."

Champions enjoy and experience fully every step on the path toward their goals. They are always applying 100% awareness to their training now! Each step on the path must be mastered fully before going on to the next. Each step will be mastered with patience, always leading to your future goals. Champions have had many bad days in their careers, but they always look at their mistakes rationally as learning experiences.

"The champion is the skier that trains through his/her mistakes, recognizing them as an event in the learning process not as a problem!"

"If we did not make mistakes than we would have nothing to learn."

KNOWING YOURSELF

If you watch champions in almost every sport, you will notice that they all have well learned consistent approaches to their competition performances. Most top athletes have a consistent schedule, starting with their training four days before a competition, right through to the day after the competition. This process is learned over years of training and competing, and can be different for every athlete. You have to know yourself to know what works best for you.

"We as athletes are addicted to the adrenaline and the anxiety of competition. Champions recognize nervous feelings and anxiety as positive competitive emotions, and use them to compete above and beyond their normal abilities."

Following is an example of what I do before during and after a competition.

  • The day before a competition:

    This is a day of thinking, planning and training on the course. The questions I ask myself:
    • What line am I going to take?
    • Where will I catch air?
    • How will I approach the air bumps?
    • How will I land?
    • Where will I ski fast for speed points?
    • Where will I have to control my speed?
    • Where are the tight lines?
    • Where are the spaced out lines for extra turns?

    I learn the course and then I ski top to bottom runs at about 75% speed level. As soon as I am comfortable with the course I ski two or three runs at 100% speed with full on air and competition turns. I concentrate on my confidence in my skiing ability, knowing that all I can do is ski to the best of my ability. I like to watch the other skiers because I can usually learn something. Even if I have a bad day I leave the course with the confidence that I know the course inside and out. The main objective on competition day is to learn the course. Don't burn yourself out. Your training is done, work with the tools that you already possess.

    "Do not be intimidated by the other competitors. Watch and learn."
  • Competition day:

    Training in the morning is a time to get used to the current conditions and to adjust my plan if necessary. I will slip the course once, looking at every mogul and air bump, making sure I know the course from top to bottom. Then I ski the course at 75% speed with single or double air. I ski my last few runs at a competition level with full confidence.

    "Anything can happen on the competition morning. I have had terrible practice sessions on the day of competition and still won the contest. If you are having problems with the course let it go, relax and get ready for your competition run with full confidence in your abilities."

    • TEN MINUTES BEFORE MY RUN:
      I close my eyes and visualize my run three times from top to bottom perfect turns with big air.
    • TWO COMPETITORS BEFORE ME:
      I completely clear my mind and concentrate on breathing slowly. The training is behind me it is time for my body to do what I have trained it to do. I have faith in my training, my body can ski the perfect run without my mind getting in the way.
    • IN THE GATE:
      I try to keep my mind clear. It is not easy because of the adrenaline pumping through my body. As soon as the starter says "competitor ready," I let out a deep breath and pump it up! When the starter says "go," I use all the adrenaline and muscle in my body to push out of the gate and attack the course.
    • IN THE FINISH AREA:
      When I ski my best runs, I don't even remember exactly how I skied. My mind and body are completely in sync without any conscious thinking. This does not happen every time I compete, but I have achieved my best results with this state of mind.
    • THE NEXT DAY:
      I take some time to relax and think about what I did well and where I made mistakes. I write down my observation of the competition day. With my observations in writing, I can look back at my competitions and work on a consistent approach to competitions in the future. I have learned a lot about myself, what works and what does not.


    "Champions look at a bad day of competition rationally as a learning experience."


VISUALIZING COMPETITION

You can learn how to be a seasoned competitor even if you have not competed very much. Visualization has been an instrumental part of my training over the last 16 years.

  • Find a place where you can lie down and relax with out being distracted by anyone
  • Close your eyes, take three big breaths and relax your body moving your concentration slowly from your toes all the way up to your head.
  • Visualize your self at a competition site that you are familiar with. Recall every detail of the starting area, colors, smells, sounds, who is there, who is watching the competition. Let all the familiar competition feels come to you.
  • Let yourself feel good, you are the best today, you are completely prepared because you have trained hard. Feel the adrenaline in your body it is good and natural. Push through the gate with power using the adrenaline to bring you up to the next level. You have skied the perfect run and you won. Feel how good it is to win, live up the moment of glory when you have competed at your best, all the hard training has paid off and you are #1.


POSITIVE SELF TALK

Self talk is the constant chatter that goes on in our heads all the time. 90% of our self talk is negative. I can't ski this run, I can't take this air, I can't win this competition, I am not very good at taking tests, I am not a stud with the girls, hunks don't like me.

We actually have to train ourselves to think positively. If we believe we are number 1 than we will do anything in our power to be number 1 and to stay number 1.

Train yourself to think positively in the present tense.

" I am the best skier on the hill"

" I can catch perfect air"

" I am a fast skier"

" I am good at taking tests"


Start now to think positively in whatever you do. You will be amazed at how much negative self talk you will discover. If you train yourself now to be a positive thinker, you will naturally become a positive doer.