All skiers talk about technique, ski setup and how to navigate through the slalom course, but how often do we think about how we actually train? Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your ski time by enhancing your training both on the water and off.
1. BE HUMBLE WHEN CHOOSING A STARTING SPEED AND LINE LENGTH.
All too often I see skiers starting at speeds or line lengths that are far too challenging for their current skill level. A good rule of thumb is to make your fourth pass the most challenging. This will ensure not only that you are warmed up before you start pushing the limits of your body, but it allows time to establish rhythm before your more difficult rope lengths.
2. BALANCE YOUR TRAINING AMONG THE FOLLOWING THREE GOALS:
Tune your technique and improve it. Work on new concepts and hone any recently established biomechanical movements you've added to your technique. This can be done on one of your easier passes and should make up 35-45 percent of your ski routine.
Rehearse rhythm. Feel the constant movement and rhythm of slalom. Remember that great skiing is not only accomplished by placing your body in the right position, it also demands perfect timing. Focus on your rhythm at your easier line lengths (probably what is normally your second pass off the dock). Practicing rhythm should make up about 35-45 percent of your time on the water.
Challenge yourself. Push your skiing to its limits: Fight for buoys, don't accept defeat and run the pass at all costs (within reason). The important part of this is that it should only make up about 10-20 percent of your training.
3. TAKE NOTES.
Keep a journal of your skiing performances, noting your efficiencies, deficiencies, ski settings, water conditions, diet and any tips your friends or coaches give you. There is no way we can keep up with all the things we discover about our skiing without writing them down. Additionally, if you write it down you will have your own personal reference manual when you get into a slump.
4.TRAIN LIKE AN ATHLETE.
Many skiers look for quick or even magical answers to their skiing deficiencies. The sad truth is that some skiers are just not training like athletes. Athletes not only monitor their actual sport-based training, they also live a lifestyle that enhances their abilities.
Here are several aspects of training that are often overlooked:
Diet and nutrition. It is not enough to eat a healthy diet (although it is a great start); to really excel you need to learn to eat for peak performance. I suggest reading up on nutrition for athletes. A good place to start might be a book by Chris Carmichael called Food for Fitness. There are many others out there as well. I will defer to experts in the field of nutrition for exact details of how best to accomplish your nutrition goals.
Mental preparedness. Productive training is not all about the body; you must also train yourself mentally. This is tougher than it sounds. Try things like visualizing yourself accomplishing your goals. Learn to zone out all types of distractions. Again, find a good book or a sports psychologist to help you with this one, depending on how far you want to take it.
Get fit. Find a gym for the off-season, take some Pilates or yoga classes, and/or cross train in other sports. However you do it, make sure that when you show up on the dock you leave your spare tire at home on the couch, and that you are tuned for peak performance.
Bear in mind that these are just a few ways to get the most out of your skiing. Don't let any of these things stand in the way of your enjoyment of the sport, but if you are like most skiers, the challenge to improve will be more than half the fun.
Seth Stisher is head coach and co-owner of H2Osmosis Sports, now located at Trophy Lakes in Charleston, South Carolina. He is sponsored by D3 skis, MasterCraft boats, Zeal Optics and Fogman bindings. For answers to your questions or to find out how to train with Seth, go to h2osmosis.com or call 866-213-7993.