Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Vipassana and the restoration of health


This summer I spent ten days without talking. Ten days sat in a room from 4.00am in the morning to 10.00pm at night. In this blog I want to explain what the heck I was doing that for, and why it totally freed me of all the pains and injuries I’d been carrying with me almost five years since I tore a ligament in my knee and gave up skiing as a livelihood.

Ten very difficult days, with over a hundred hours practicing a technique. A very simple technique of mind purification, I sat with my eyes closed, legs crossed, using my noggin. Meditation is a dangerous word burdened by stigma and false preconception. I don’t want to completely avoid the word but from the outset I want you to know I’m talking about a science here, a science of mind control that completely changed my body and has had a huge impact on my daily life.  

It’s a hard process to describe but it’s kind of like doing surgery on yourself, mentally. Hour upon hour I spent unlocking different areas of my body, layer after layer of all this built up tension, like loads of tiny knots that all start coming unravelled. This technique has numerous implications for the sporting world however for this blog I want to focus specifically on how you can unlock your body and rid yourself of all tension and feel ten years younger.

We all love to flick to Youtube for some light-hearted random crap so thought I’d give it to u here to break things up a bit. It has no relevance to the blog, just mere amusement but through out I’ve posted random photos from behind the scenes of famous films that might the magic away slightly. I’ll start with the R2D2 operator Kenny Baker tucking into a sandwich whilst on the set of star wars.


It’s been about five years since I blew the ACL ligament in my right knee and it had never really recovered back to normal. In fact both my knees were weak and would ache a lot. My back also was often sore especially if sat for long hours film editing (my job). If you’ve got yourself a desk job you might relate.  

Then there was my jaw, which over a few years started pulling over to one side and was sending sharp pains through my skull. After a facial surgeon did some scans he decided to book me in for a major surgery, breaking my jaw in two places to realign it. Not keen on this idea, instead I opted for wearing braces for two years, with about 6 elastic bands wiring my mouth together and pulled my jaw back into line. This was a painful process and not my strongest look at twenty-four. My parents kindly helped me cover the cost of this private medical treatment worth a few grand.

Also for about five years I’ve been seeing a great osteopath called Michelle who would regularly click my jaw and back into shape. On top of this I tried to do about an hours worth of physio a day.

I was confused because these issues seemed to happen to people in there fifties and sixties, it was happening to me in my twenties, I couldn’t understand it. I was consistently uncomfortable when sat down which is quite a mentally draining as well. Knowing it was getting steadily worse was a recurring thought I often left suppressed.

Not that money is the point here in any form what so ever but its of interest to note that learning this technique for ten days, completely free, did more for me than years worth and thousands of pounds worth of these common forms of treatments.

Batman climbing (walking along) a skyscraper in 1966

SUMMER (twenty thirteen)

At the start of this summer I turned twenty-five and in a nice quick succession my band split up and we all got evicted from our house, then my girlfriend left me. Then during a drunken stag do conversation a friend told me about a ten day silent Vipassana course in France that was free to go on. Although it didn’t sound like my idea of a holiday I figured it might be quite good for my head, so I signed up.

After a summer in Chamonix hanging out and climbing with close friends, it was time for the course but I felt no need to go, I think alpine air is always good for the soul. I was on the waiting list anyway so I came back to England thinking little of it. An email two days before the course started said they had one spare spot available and on a slightly spontaneous whim I packed my bags.

Ten days in silence, no talking, no phone, no pen and paper, no books or anything, ten hours a day I sat and meditated only eating two small meals. I’m quite indulgent when it comes to food so this was tough for me, apparently the technique is best practiced on an empty stomach. The gong sounded at 4.00am every morning and the itinerary was nice and simplified, two hours practice, five minute break, two hours practice five minute break, on and on till lights out at 10.00pm.

Radars of the wooden arc

The first few days were undoubtedly the worst. You mediate for two hours and come out feeling like crap, your knees and back hurt and you have a pounding headache. A quick five minute break to stretch your legs before the bell sounds and you’re back in again. It was excruciating and I often wondered why I was putting myself through it. I nearly ran away a few times those first few days, lots of people do on a course like this.

At a fairly young age I was diagnosed with a healthy dose of dyslexia and found that I had to struggled at school working harder than the other kids to achieve the same kind of results. This developed in me a bloody mindedness approach to certain things I strived for, an attitude that said if I work relentlessly hour after hour, ignoring all the stress I would succeed in the end.

Learning to fly through the air and spin my body about on ski's came far more naturally than reading textbooks so when I applied the same approach to learning tricks it made possible for quick progress in the sport. Although you get quick results I would also add that this is not a sustainable way to progress. To explain what I mean by that though would stir this discourse in the wrong direction so I'd like to tackle that can of worms another time. 

Anyway the summer after leaving school I went on a british freeski camp in Saasfee where I was lucky enough to have Pat Sharples (now head coach for the England Olympic team) teaching me how to land my first 360’s. A winter of jumping about in the park relentlessly and on the same camp one year later I did a double flip no one had ever seen or heard of before. Pat decided to sign me up to the Oakley team and I decided this was the career for me.

If I'd known at the time what damage I was doing to my body though I would of approached the sport in a very different manor and would still probably be skiing today. Although there was a lack of regard for my own body this style of learning did make me realise the mind is a powerful monkey when you really narrow your focus on something intently.

So I thought if I’m all the way out in France having this experience I might as well take this same approach, give it hell and see what happens. It was kind of like my own personal experiment, where I was the subject and I wanted to push it to the extremes. 


The idea is that you don’t move what so ever, every itch or small niggle you just have to sit it out and observe the sensation of it. Your not meant to torture yourself, but it’s a bit of a fine line. The pain that creeps into your knees and back when you’ve been sat for hours really cuts into you and as I was trying to push my limits I wanted to test what pain threshold I could deal with. I over did it a few times and couldn't walk properly for about twenty minutes after.

The learning of this process is tough, this science of mind purification. It’s a mental and physical struggle, which in the beginning can all seem a bit much to handle. The emotional cocktail of highs and lows makes the process very arduous but after a few days you get over the hump and then all the magic starts happening.

I had climbed Mont Blanc earlier in the summer which I thought would prepare me nicely for this endurance race, this however was much more of a brutal challenge.

Me and my old man heading down from the 4808m summit


If you are to take a moment right now listen to all the noises around you I’m sure there is a whole bunch your totally unaware of. For example the humming of the computer your reading this from, maybe the traffic or birds coming from outside or the TV in another room. Take a moment to have a listen, can you hear yourself breathing? Each reader will be surrounded by a completely different and vast array of sound, and we pretty much ignore all of them, our conscious mind is busy focusing on other stuff. In a similar fashion at this very moment your body is giving off an array of sensations as well. These much like the sounds don’t enter our consciousness and are left ignored.

There is so much which lies behind the surface. Gut instinct is a good example of body sensations but it’s also a very large sensation on the scale thing. The equivalent, in my noise analogy of someone bursting into the room looking for something, whilst making a right racket. This would be hard to avoid whilst at the same time the quiet hum of the computer will stay hidden to you.

The aim of the technique then is to be aware of all the subtly going on in your body. Learning to listen and be fully aware of all these sensations our body is giving off. A mastery of awareness within your body, in a nutshell, that’s all there is to it.


I would like to explain the specifics about the technique but I don’t feel like it’s the right thing to do here. The mind is a wild beast full of sporadic non-linear thoughts moment to moment arising and fleeting away. To harness the power of the technique requires a calm and still mind and if it is practiced in its usual agitated state there will be no benefits.

To tame the mind first a technique of Annapurna must be learnt which is a process of focussing attention simply on the breath, keeping the mind focused, pointed in one direction. There’s a lot of variation with every breath and the trick is to become aware of the subtleties, for example when you breath in the air is slightly colder than when you breathing out. Or when you breath in often its more predominantly through one nostril than the other.

So the process starts with an awareness of your breathing to quiet your mind from the everyday hustle and bustle, it took me three days, so about thirty hours practicing Annapurna for my mind to quiet. Only then could I move on to Vipassana, in this new heightened state of awareness you are free to cross over the bridge to start exploring the unconscious mind. On this side of the river you find it all, all your accumulated knowledge, all your behaviours patterns, trains of thought and ways of being. In this place you can see clearly why you do what you do, this is where all the routes are buried that make you who you are.

Dr Lector eating fries

It’s quite a scary process really, it’s certainly not common for us to harbour and nurture this uncomfortable stuff, often we don’t like what might be lurking. Now lets chill out and watch a video, as I’m sure you could do with a nice little break from the black and white lines. In this video Louis C.K kind of hits the point by explaining how mobile phones make it so easy to distract us from this place we don’t want to go.

We think of our unconscious mind as a volt we don’t have access to but that isn’t the case. The unconscious mind manifests itself as sensation all the time. That gut feeling in your stomach, when you feel like your body is telling you something, that’s because it is. This is your unconscious mind that’s gathered and collected a whole array of information you don’t have the cognitive capacity to process into your consciousness and instead manifests itself as a sensation through out your body, commonly in your gut.

This technique taps into that hidden volt below, it flips the iceberg upside down and brings it all from the subconscious to the conscious, where there is a world of knowledge on just about everything you need to know.


In another little video I have for you here Dr Gabor Maté explains how emotions are deeply implicated in both the development of illness and in the restoration of health. 

An abundance of sensations this world has to offer to simulate and vibrate the body moment to moment. When you stop the consumption of stimulus and focus your attention inward, you can explore your own reality layer by layer, sensation by sensation you drift around becoming aware of all the subtlety at play, and it keeps going on and on, subtler and subtler.

When viewing the world around us on this sensation platter, you look much closer, feel much more and the day-to-day drama we play out with our stresses, worries and built up tension really seem a whole lot less dramatic. More in tune with the body your sense of intuition is dramatically heightened, this can be harnessed in the sport world to understand when it right and wrong to push your limits, go for that trick, huck off that cliff. These implications are game changing for progression in sport and I think the most practical benefit of understanding a technique like this. This will be the subject of the next post.



Awareness is only one wing of the bird. The other wing is equanimity- or balance. When you are aware of these sensations the next step is to just observe the sensation and don’t react to it. So for ten days I slowly became more and more aware of the sensation within my body, and the process felt similar to some kind of surgery, I would sit down and concentrate for a few hours and would slowly work up my spine, layer after layer unlocking all this built up tension and pain I didn’t even know was there.

What I found by the end was all the tension in my knees completely disappeared. I felt younger and springier, roughly about like I did ten years ago. My spine had straightened up and I felt my posture much correct and natural to hold. My jaw pain had completely gone and the route cause must have been this psychosomatic stress. It was this tension that was pulling my jaw over to the right. If I had learnt this earlier there would have been no need for me to wear braces for two years, and probably wouldn’t of needed any of those osteopath treatments either.

By the end you get to a state where the sensations in your body are all in harmony. You observe the good sensation you observe the bad sensation, disconnect from it all and you find this place inside you that is totally calm, totally peaceful.


If I’d known about this technique and how to become aware of what my body was saying I think it would of completely changed my skiing career. Not only can you totally change your physical state from all harbouring aches and pains but there are numerous other implications as well.

If my story appears a bit grandiose and ‘far out’ for you well I guess that’s just a little bit how it is, it’s unbelievable to me also. I really don't want to come across here like I'm peaching at all, I just feel the need to share this thing thats been really beneficial for me and if I can help a few folk head in the similar direction then for me that totally justifies the this splurge into the digital ether. Basically this is good shit worth sharing and although the subject matter can be a little hefty in places I hope it’s been interesting to you.

I feel confident in stating that this technique can change your life if you really commit to the process, in more realistic terms though I’d say it could have some real positive and prolonged benefits for you. Your particular story might not be like mine in any way, in fact I’m hoping my story is much more of an extreme example of how it can all build up. Never the less the injury in snow sports is very common and how we recover is vital for the rest of your days doing the sport.

The effects of Vipassana on my sporting life are clearly visible. I climb a few times a week and since practicing this technique I’ve gone up a grade to 7a’s, which had evaded me for years. Now I feel much stronger, although I’m not, I'm just now more in tune with my body and using it more efficiently. My sense of balance has dramatically improved as well, essential for all you freestylers! The knock on effects to day-to-day stuff like concentration, focus, multitasking, timekeeping is vast but again I fell best saved for another post. 


Currently I do two hours a day, one in the morning from 6.00-7.00am and one after work from 5.30-6.30. This might seem a bit excessive but it's an appropriate. As I'm a normal human up keeping this discipline for two hours a day is difficult. When the buzzer goes a 5.40 every morning I sometimes convince myself its not worth it. What keeps me motivated though is I know mentally I’m much more focused and sharp, I eat less, sleep fewer hours and maintain a much higher all round energy level. The continuous lateral drift between future and past thoughts tappers and allows me to be in the moment concentrating on what I’m doing, with more efficiency.

There are also times when I slack off and when I do I find my old habit patterns slipping back in. But like good eating and good exercise the more you time you commit the more benefits you see right along side next to it. For me all the time invested is totally worth it.

This post is just scratching the surface of what I want to talk about really and in later posts I want to focus more on the science of this technique to help explain whats really going on and give it some scientific rigor. There is also a social barriers that might put people off trying it and this is also something I'd like to address. For me I don’t see it any different from how everyone obsessively cleans there teeth twice a day, they both boil down to simple maintenance of the body. Also I want to offer some advice on how to further apply it to the sporting world and how actually to go about practicing it.

Vipassana is a simple technique that helps purify the mind. I believe this can have a huge impact on all skier and boarders dealing with such things as learning new tricks, competitions and high-pressure situations, also for anyone looking to improve in the sport. How this could affect your previous injuries is really only a small piece of the pie. If anyone would like know more about this please send me a message. 



If what I’m saying makes sense to you, this is great news, but that really doesn’t help you much. The purpose of this blog was to share the things I’ve learnt about sports psychology so people can progress and enjoy the sport and unfortunately one paradoxical thing I’ve learnt is that what ever you read is really not that helpful. You can watch Ted lectures and read blogs like this and understand something on an intellectual level but that really only goes so deep. To really get the heart of it you must experience the knowledge. Experiential wisdom is really the only way of understanding stuff on a level that penetrates down to your subconscious mind.

To understand what it is I’m talking about there’s really no other way than actually doing it. I could explain what it’s like to jump out of an aeroplane with all the elaborate articulation but its never going to cut the cheddar in comparison to actually doing it. 

The purpose of this blog then is to intrigue. By honestly telling my story I hope to encourage you to explore your own path, try it out for yourself and make your own set of assumption about it.

It is also worth noting this technique is no substitute for exercise. The body must be pushes and maintained in a similar fashion to the mind. They are totally linked together and must be managed from both angles.  

More star wars stuff

Health and safety on it with the mattresses

Thursday, 7 April 2011

ANCHORS- the secret weapon for competitions


One of the most mentally demanding parts of skiing is when it comes to competing, as this is a time when you are expected to perform at your best. With a crowd eagerly watching and the judges examining your every move this highly demanding situation can cause anxiety for a lot of riders. Also knowing you only have two or sometimes even one chance to complete a successful run only adds more pressure to the situation. A slip or lapse in concentration could be the difference between winning and losing on the day.

Aside from all this and one of my main qualms with competing in this 2 run format, is the length of time the riders have to wait around before it is their turn to drop in. This can sometimes take hours to get underway which leaves the riders at a huge disadvantage. The waiting stage is bad news for your body as it will cool down and get less responsive; also it can be hard to keep your mind focused when you’re inactive for this amount of time. This is often when you become most anxious and nervous about what you’re going to do.

So when your name gets called and you’re standing at the top of the in-run what kind of state are you really in? Take a moment to think about it, is your body prepared and active, is you’re your mind sharp and ready, are you in the right state, physically and mentally to performing at your best?

The answer in a lot of cases is ‘no’. Without being aware, you’ll have built up a set of habits that could restrict you from performing at your best. It’s easy to see how this happens, with all these external pressures stacked on top of you the natural reaction is to feel nervous. However when anxiety sets in it can often have a negative effect on your performance.

I think it’s weird we’ve been put on this earth with incredible devices in our head, far more powerful than any computer, the problem being it didn’t come with any instruction manual and actually learning how to use it effectively requires a bit skill in itself. Hopefully this series of blogs will help with that and provide you with some essential ‘buttons to your own brain’. This stuff has had a massive effect on my life and I’m excited so be sharing it with you.

NAS (Neuro Associative Conditioning)

So, if you will, I want you to imagine the impact on your skiing if you could turn on your high-performance state at will. If you could snap into that state of readiness were your confident, strong and in control in a heartbeat. In this blog I want to talk about the science of NAS (Neuro Associative Conditioning) and specifically a term call ‘Anchoring’ which teaches you how to achieve your best psychological state of mind in seconds.

This is used by top athletes, musicians and actors and is essential in order to be resourceful in the moment. An actor must be able to commit himself to the role when the curtain goes up, not an hour before or halfway through the second act.
If you give yourself time to master these techniques I guaranty your riding will not only improve but will become a lot more consistent. So when you’re standing at the top of the in-run, you’ll be charged and confident, physically and mentally in the right frame of mind to perform at your best.


Ok so the first little bomb shell I’d like to drop is that the ONLY difference between you performing well and you performing badly is the state of mind you’re in at the time. Think about it, and this applies to any situation in life but maybe think back to two different days you’ve been riding and try and remember how you felt on those days. Re-live a memory when you were riding at your best, feeling confident and strong, where everything you tried just worked and it all came naturally. Got that, ok cool.

Now think about a day when the opposite happened, you didn’t feel yourself and you couldn’t land anything. Again take a moment to really feel how you felt on this day, if you can make a vivid picture in your head this is a good thing. Now specifically think about your different states of mind in both, think about the difference between them. Your emotional state you were in at the time ultimately was the thing that changed your performance. (That was some dam fine visualising you just did...I patronisingly approve!)


So in my first blog I demonstrated how you can create physical responses in your body just by using your imagination. Just by visualising yourself eating a lemon your body reacted as if it were actually real, as you start salivating and smelling lemon (if you haven’t looked at this go back and have a quick gander) We called this process synaesthesia and we can use the same principle again here.

Essentially I’m saying if you vividly imaging a past memory when you were in a high performance state, so your body will change to be in that same state. These physical changes can include the releasing of adrenalin, increased heart rate, more acute sense of hearing and touch and sight. This emotional state activates your entire nervous system and creates an entire biochemical change is our body.

Applying this in a positive way to skiing we can first look at how to create a high performance state at will. Then we can look at ways of making them consistently available and stabilizing them in the here and now.


Everyone that reads this will have a personal history that is rich in different emotional states. However to make these states consistently available when ever we feel like we need a trigger. This is some association in the present to elicit the original experience.

Our minds naturally link experiences; it is the way we give meaning to what we do. For example, a favourite piece of music might transport you back to a summer when you listened to it none stop. Maybe smelling freshly laid tarmac might magically send you back to your childhood when you first smelt it.

An anchor is anything that anchors an emotional state, and they are so obvious and widespread that we hardly notice them. An alarm clock rings and it is time to get up, a red traffic light means stop. I actually find it a bit scary when you start to analyse how much of human behaviour is actual just conditioned responses to certain stimuli, we all walk round on auto pilot totally unaware. Ha, so there’s space for a big rant here but I’ve decided against it, however it might be interesting to think about the anchors you have in your life and see whether they are affecting you in a positive or negative way.

I know when I started to look at the associations I had unconsciously put in place, I realised my life was unnecessarily limited by fear, and this was often built up from past memories that simply hadn’t been re-evaluated. I want to bring the focus back to riding in a competition but essentially I’m saying you can take whatever experiences in life you find most difficult or challenging and simply re-associate the conditioned response you have with that situation, it’s that simple.

Anchors can be created in one of two ways.
1. Repetition. If you see repeated instances of red being associated with danger we will make an association between them.

2. Secondly, and much more important, anchors can be set in a single instant if the emotion is strong and the timing is right. Repetition is only needed if there is no emotional involvement. Think back to when you were at school and found that something interesting and exciting was easy to learn. Facts that did not interest you needed a lot of repetition. The less emotionally involved you are, the more repetitions are needed to learn the association.

So it is quite probable that when you’re waiting around at the top of the slope you’ve made associations between anxiety and the pressure of competing. Being fearful can easily become a conditioned response that you will naturally feel when you’re in that situation. But it doesn’t have to be. By anchoring in a new set of emotions you can change the way you feel when in this high-pressure situation.


Ok so instead of writing about this I think it would be more beneficial if you listen to this audio recording I’ve uploaded about how to create you own anchors.


Four key points for creating anchors.
1. Create a strong, intense emotional state
2. Create anchor at the peak of the emotional state
3. Make sure the anchor is unique
4. Fire the anchor off the same way it got set

The anchor I use to feel energized and charges is linking my little fingers together. Also, rather than just anchor one memory I’ve linked a number of powerful memories on top of each other. My first back flip, my first double back flip, the pistol flip and a number of other memories drawing from that amazing feeling you get from landing a new rick for the first time. I’ve stacked all these memories on top of each other and associate it with something as simple as linking my fingers together. Now the ability to perform at my peak is literally at my fingertips and it’s available whenever I like.

So if you want to be stood at the top of the in-run in the best possible state for a competition I encourage you learn these technique and practice them, they can be incredibly powerful.

It does take a bit of time to master though, when I first read about it years ago I tried without committing 100 % and that didn’t get me anywhere. It’s very much a trail and error process and in this blog I’ve only really scratched the surface of NAS (Neuro Associative Conditioning). Don’t hesitate to get in contact if you’d like to ask me any other questions about it. This stuff can range from improve your skiing or getting rid of life long phobias, so fire away ha.

Until next time.

Peace x

P.S Shameless plug I know but I’m currently in the process of writing an album, as in a musicy one, so if any of you would be intrigued to hear what wonderful noises I can make please follow me on soundcloud.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Perfect Learning - It's all in your head


Since doing the ‘pistol flip’ in 2008 lots of people have asked me why I did it without practising first, or why not try it into a swimming pool or foam pit. Well the truth is, I did practice it…thousands of times actually. I practiced it until it was inch perfect. However all this practice went on inside my head and in this write up I want to share the idea that visualisation is a powerful way to learn new tricks and improve your skiing!

(I’ll be referencing the pistol flip as an example to illustrate my point about learning, purely as it serves as a good example, before you think I have a man crush on myself and I’m being to self indulgent, ha.)

Gona kick things off by asking, whats your state of mind when you’ve had a bad days riding? Take a moment to think about this.

Do you get annoyed with yourself and feel like your not improving, or maybe question your natural ability as a skier? Are bumps, bruises and other injuries the risk you accept as a skier to improve? This was my thinking until I decided to break down and understand the specific building blocks of my riding.

I believe the Way you train yourself to learn new tricks has the biggest impact on your skiing. If you can learn at your most optimum level, improving and retaining new skills becomes a whole lot easier. The key to success is figuring out the strategies that work best for you!

Analyzing biomechanics and developing precise take offs and landings is a great building block, on which to add tricks. It wasn’t until I questioned the methods of HOW I learn that I figured out the ‘bad habits’ that had crept into my riding. (I plan to write about this in another post though.)

Today I want to look at understanding your body movements when your in the air or on a rail, as this is fundamental to the learning new tricks. So how do you learn to do something that your body has never been done before? Simple…visualisation!

I studied psychology at A-level which sparked my interest in the mind and the concept of learning. Looking back through my old text books I found this exercise which I’d like you to read. When you’ve read it, close your eyes and imagine yourself carrying out the actions.

Exercise 1

‘Your in your kitchen, you take a fresh lemon from the fruit basket. It’s cool as it sits in the palm of your hand, the outer skin looks smooth and waxy. It’s a rather large lemon and heavy for its size. As you raise the lemon to your nose it has that wonderfully characteristic citrus smell. Taking a sharp knife you cut the lemon in half and as the sides fall apart, pale drops of pulpy citrus juice ooooooze out. The smell is now much stronger and it seems to fill the kitchen with a new scent. Finally you bite into the lemon and let the juice swirl around in your mouth.’

Eyes close…imagine!

So what was your physical response when you read that, Did your mouth water? Did you believe you could actually smell the lemon?

Ok this starts to get a bit sciency but if you did have some sort of physiological response then you’ve just experienced something called synaesthesia. Synaethesia is the process of getting a physical sensation from an imagined experience. Nothing actually happened…there was no lemon… your imagination created a physiological response!

This example is meant to illustrate that your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined! So if you practice and visualize tricks in your head your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between that and actually being on the slope practicing. I’m not saying it’s the same thing but I’m suggesting you can do a large amount of your practice without even clipping into a pair of skis.

(You can try the above test on your friend, get them to close there eyes and read the exercise to them, note down any physical responses.)

Pistol Flip

So when I was skiing in summer of 2007 with my friends and we had the idea of doing doubles for the first time, I spent days and days running it though in my head. I played through what I thought this double spin thousands of times, practicing it over and over, looking at it from every angle, making it stronger and more vivid in my imagination.

Although I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time looking back I think this repetition was slowly hard wiring it into my brain. I had pictured it in my head from landing to take off so when the bad weather cleared after 3 or 4 days I was feeling pretty confident.

Visualisation is a powerful skill and everyone can do it, however it can take time to master and use effectively! Below I’ve written some tips on what I’ve found are the best ways to use it and apply it to skiing.

How To

Visualization can be split into 2 different types, Association and Disassociation.

Association, you feel the experience and see the situation through your own eyes. This is extremely valuable when you’re getting a feel for your body moving around in the air and general spatial awareness. Referenced as 1st position

Disassociation, you imagine seeing yourself doing the trick from another perspective. In this position you allow for a removed sense seeing a trick as an observer, standing on the knuckle of a jump and watching for example. This is extremely valuable for detecting hand and body movements and limitations. Referenced as 2nd position. This exercise below was again taken out of an old psychology txt book.

Exercise 2: Performing Visualization

1 1. Relax your body with breathing and body exercises.

2. See yourself ready to begin the event. All necessary instruments should be included in your visualization surroundings.

3. Place yourself into 1st position. Maximize the association of the kinaesthetic channel. (kinaesthetic means movement, so play through and try to feel the movements of your body)

4. Move to 2nd position and begin to issue technical commands to your nervous system. Issue the commands in the correct order and sequence.

5. Move to 1st position and begin the physical action

This is a simple excessive If you do this correctly it should allow for complete perfection while learning. It is important to note that an instructor a a detailed program is always essential during the learning process.

Why Visualize

The main benefit about this method of learning is that it can be rehearsed as much as you like, wherever you like. Being English often means you don’t get as much time on snow as American or other European riders. Off the bat this is a huge disadvantage but I think if you master the art of visualization you can claw back some of those hours.

I’ve found the best time is lying in bed before going to sleep. If you do it enough you’ll find it creeping into your dream as well. During the winter I would drift off to sleep thinking about a bunch of new tricks, dream about them, wake up the next day and feel confident enough, knowing I had it down in my own head. Watching ski films really helps this process as well.

Now the other great thing about visualising is no mistakes, you either know it and you can see it feel it and hear it…or u don’t. If you shape the trick correctly, your mind will not allow for error, the result then becomes perfect learning!!

This technique isn’t just for new tricks, its great for working on other things, for example style, slow all your movements down and concentrate on body position, how your grabbing, what position in the trick your looking for the landing and what angle is your body at this moment etc. when skiing it can be hard to think of all these at once. Similarly to when u first learn to drive, to start off with it all seems overwhelming and there’s a lot to remember. Practice makes it become habit and by visualizing you can concentrate on one specific area at a time, practice that individual area until it becoming totally natural and a force of habit.

For this to work effectively it is important to remember that the image in your mind needs to be as vivid and detailed as possible. Make it colourful, look at details, think about your other senses and use them.

Skiing is such a mental thing! Visualization can help to build confidence and belief because if you can see yourself doing a trick from start to finish, stomping the landing and riding away with steeze, then you start to trust your own body and what you can do with it.

As well as fine-tuning your skiing it can also give you a lot less injuries. If you can clearly see and understand what you’re asking your body to do, you’ll be in a far better position to be able to do it. If your on the slope and your unsure of the trick your about to do, stop for a second, make it clear in your mind from start to finish, and only when you feel confident about what your gona do then go for it. Until something becomes second nature it requires a lot of metal though and the majority of my injuries have occurred when I’ve done the opposite to this.


So I hope other skiers may find this useful and it will help to develop their riding. Bare in mind mastering this skill takes practice and time. I’ve haven’t tort this to others before so im unaware how long it takes. However when this skill is effectively mastered I believe it has tremendous power and can help you learn all kinds of new things with a new found speed!

Next time

Waiting around at a competition and then having to throw down your best run can be demanding. Imagine the impact on your skiing if you could turn on your high-performance state at will. I’ll be talking about a term call ‘anchoring’ and teaching you how to achieve your best psychological state of mind in seconds. This is used by top athletes, politicians and actors.

I’ll also look at how professional dancers shift their minds eye to give them greater balance, and how you can able this to your skiing when it comes to doing rails!

Add me on facebook and ill let you know when ive got more info for ya!