Snowboarding is a mind game. What if you could get yourself in the perfect learning state for riding quickly and easily? A mind set where you are in complete control of your movements and actions with no fear of failure. No more talking yourself out of a difficult move you need to practise or trying that new trick you really want to nail.
The mind plays a huge part in sports performance and if we want to get better at snowboarding we have to be aware of what mind-set we are in when we ride.
Craig townsend the sports psychologist said that…
Quieting your mind and allowing your instincts to take over during performance is one of the most effective ways of accessing the mental state known as The Zone.
We’ve all heard pro sportsmen, including snowboarders mention “the zone” but what exactly is it.
Firstly, it isn’t a magical state that they reach or something that is weird or other worldly, in fact it is the opposite. The “zone” that these guys are talking about is simply being 100 per cent and completely in the present moment. Nothing more!
Imagine yourself being at the top of a tricky run that you haven’t ridden before or about to start a park lap to practise the trick you are working on with complete confidence. Your mind is calm and you feel at ease. There are no negative thoughts running through your brain holding you back and taking your focus away from what you are about to do.
That’s all there is…the zone that you hear about is just being in the here and now completely.
So often we want to improve our riding and work on something new but there is a little voice at the back of our heads talking us out of it.
By practising the following exercise as often as you can when you are next out snowboarding you will find that distractions to your improvement will fall away. Negative thoughts and images will appear less and less leaving you to ride with more freedom. Basically you won’t feel as much fear when you try something new.
The exercise is so simple that your BS meter may kick in pretty hard. You may not believe that something this easy really can improve your snowboarding at all. Don’t let that fool you. Stick with it and give it a go.
All we are going to be doing is working on using our peripheral vision more to quieten our mind and to get into “the zone”.
Peripheral vision is the area of vision that occurs just outside the line of our normal site. Most of us focus our vision directly in front of us and ignore what is out to either side of us. When we look at something we focus on that and do not see anything else.
This exercise will work best if you practise and get comfortable with it before you get to the mountain or the park. If you get used to it at home you will find it easy to quickly get into a good state for riding and improving when the time comes. You should practise this for a couple of minutes 1 or 2 times a day to really get the full benefits.
Pick a spot on the wall in front of you. This can be anything that you can see in your room but it will work best if you choose something that is more or less in the middle of a wall or surface. Look at, and focus on this spot as you normally would. Blinking is ok but really concentrate on the spot that you have picked. Breathe slowly and deliberately.
Let your awareness expand so that you begin to take in objects to both sides of the spot you are directly looking at. When you think you have gone as far as you can, expand your awareness some more to take in more of your peripheral.
If you can, start to notice as much detail in your peripheral vision as you possibly can. You may even be able to notice things moving in your peripheral while still looking at the spot you are focused on.
Stay with this awareness for a couple of minutes. You should still be fully focused on the original spot but you will now be aware of so much more.
If you find yourself day dreaming or thinking about something else then simply bring yourself back in focus and start the exercise again. Practise makes perfect
After doing the exercise for a couple of minutes you should be getting some of the benefits of using your peripheral vision. Your mind should have become less active and you should notice fewer thoughts. You may get a sense or a feeling that you are in a different state than you were when you began the exercise. You should feel more at ease. It is a subtle change but one that you will become more used to the more you practise. Keep at it so you notice the difference.
After practising this at home you should easily be able to take advantage of it when you next visit the mountain. Next time you are at the top of a run or waiting to hit the park, take a couple of minutes to sit down, pick a spot and run through the exercise.
When you hit “the zone” you will be more at ease and your riding will flow better. You will be able to snowboard without second guessing yourself or worrying about what may happen if you get it wrong. You will be in a more playful state like a kid, much more effective for trying out new stuff when riding.
Obviously you can’t get a full sense of how this works until you try it so get out there and experiment. Reading an article and actually practising these things are worlds apart.
Looking at your snowboarding differently by using your peripheral vision may just help you to stomp that trick you have been having trouble with for a while…at the very least you will be more aware of what is going on around you on the mountain and that can only be a good thing.
If you give this a go and it helps you with your riding then we would like to hear about it. Get in touch through our contact form and let it know how it goes.