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Tuesday February 14, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The director of Snoworks Ski Courses, Phil Smith, speaks about the importance of focus and the practice of concentrating when skiing off piste in order to improve. NEW

"The future is a mystery, the past is history, now is a gift, that's why it's called the present."


Snoworks founder Phil Smith talks about how he approaches teaching all-mountain skiing:

Focus, or concentration, is like a theatre spotlight; The centre of the spotlight is the brightest and the further you move away from the centre the less bright it becomes.

It is incredibly powerful, and directing your focus can have a drastic effect on your performance and learning.

It can both help and hinder.

When learning to ski, many skiers have their focus directed to the future: Where am I going, what's ahead, where's my instructor, how am I going to turn?

Or well into the past, how did I do, was it correct, how do I improve?

Many skiers are to-ing and fro-ing between the future and the past.

That's fine when the environment, the snow texture and terrain is constant such as well groomed blue and red runs.

But as you move into all-mountain skiing where the terrain and snow texture change and every second, a 'now' focus is required.

It means you're focusing on what is happening, yes, in the now - not on what is going to happen or what has happened.

Not doing so compromises the ability to adjust to changing and variable conditions.

Skiing in the 'now'Skiing in the 'now'

















In all-mountain skiing, however, there are safety issues that require focus, a focus into the future.

Great all-mountain skiers have therefore learnt to switch or direct the centre of the focus from the 'now' to the 'future', depending on the greatest need.

Most times you lose control skiing it can be attributed to losing concentration, often by thinking about something that has just happened.

It is easier said than done - 'now' focusing...

Hazards such as other skiers, bumps, ice, bad visibility, trees, cold feet, tired legs can be distracting.

Technical issues such as hands forwards, body position, width of stance and other technical information affect it.

Then we can have all the other stuff going on: How am I doing, how do I look, am I skiing correctly, what does so and so think of my skiing?

As adults we like to pre-empt what is going to happen and after analyse what actually happened.

To ski in the 'now' you have to learn to let go of everything distracting you and just deal with what's happening.

We're conditioned into expecting something to feel a particular way, conditioned into wanting to know the outcome before it happens, conditioned into analysing the result rather than accepting the result.

Acceptance of the 'now' requires a retraining of how we think and learn.

We all know children learn fast: Why?

The answer is in the 'now'.

SnoworksSnoworks in St Anton
















Learn to bring your focus into the 'now' and you'll be amazed how quickly your performance can start to improve.

You'll begin to adjust to changes in the snow, be able to slow down at will, push heavy snow aside, cope with ice, bumps and deeper snow.

Of course in all-mountain skiing safety is the major factor and this requires a 'future' focus.

Future focusing can be done before you set off. Slope angle, snow texture, islands of safety, terrain traps.

Make a plan before you set off so when skiing you can be dealing with and adjusting to the changing conditions (now) rather than filling your mind with other information.

You'll suddenly realise what skiing in the 'now' is all about and your skiing will develop a new life, one that is in harmony with the changing mountain.

See here for more of the Snoworks philosophy:

PlanetSKI's chief reporter, Jane Peel, joined Snoworks for some tuition last season. Read more about her experience here.

Phil Smith is the director of Snoworks All-Mountain Ski Courses. Click here to see more about Snoworks on its website.

Check out PlanetSKI here for more on the company based in Tignes.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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