The 2021-22 race season is now well behind you and you’ve likely waxed your skis and stored all your gear. Your ski equipment is probably ready and waiting for whenever you get back on snow (perhaps this summer). You’ve undoubtedly started using your favorite non-skiing toys- a mountain bike, golf clubs, tennis racquet, surfboard, etc. Now, however, It is essential to carefully evaluate your last season so you can look forward to the 2022-23 season with optimism, excitement, and, most importantly, a plan.
The last thing you probably want to consider is the season that just concluded. Yet, think of it, you must! The saying goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In other words, if you don’t reflect on last season, you may miss out on valuable lessons that you can use to better prepare for the next. Understanding those lessons is crucial for designing a positive path to achieving your next season’s goals.
Past Season Assessment
The first step in evaluating last season is to rate yourself in each of the following areas on a 1-10 scale:
- Overall, rate your season in terms of achieving your goals: 1-really disappointing season; 10-exceptional season.
- Your enjoyment of last season: 1-hated it; 10-I loved it.
- Physical development: 1-I got weaker since the previous season; 10-I got much stronger since the last season.
- Technical development: 1-My technical skiing went backward; 10-I made huge improvements.
- Tactical development: 1-My tactical skiing went backward; 10-My tactics improved significantly.
- Mental development: 1-I was a mental wreck this past season; 10-I was mentally strong this past season.
- Equipment: 1-My equipment and set-up are a mess; 10-My equipment is dialed in and is just right for me.
- Getting faster: 1-I got slower this season; 10-I got much faster this season.
Given that my focus is on the mental side of ski racing and the mind is the most neglected part of ski racing performance, I think you must evaluate yourself mentally to help guide your mental training during the 2022-23 prep period:
- Motivation: 1-none at all; 10-incredibly driven.
- Confidence: 1-rock bottom; 10: high as a kite.
- Intensity: 1-too relaxed in races; 10-way too nervous in races.
- Focus: 1-totally distracted; 10: laser-beam focused.
- Mental imagery: 1-I never use it; 10-I use it consistently in training, on race day, and off the snow.
- Routines: 1-no routines in training or on race day; 10-very structured routines in training and on race day.
- Consistency: 1-huge ups and downs in my skiing; 10-small ups and downs, but a generally high level of skiing.
- Bring it: 1-I ski tentatively all the time; 10-I bring it (full gas, full send) every race run.
- Investment: 1-I have no investment in my ski racing; 10-I am way too invested in my ski racing.
- Perfectionism: 1-I have to be perfect, or I beat myself up; 10-I don’t need to be perfect;
- Fear of failure: 1-I have a considerable fear of failure and avoid it at all costs; 10-I don’t like to fail, but I don’t fear it.
- Expectations/pressure: 1-I place immense expectations on myself that weigh me down on race day; 10-On race day, I try to ski my best and embrace the challenge.
- Note: If you scored under a 7, it is an area you need to work on during the prep period.
Questions to Ask Looking Toward Next Season
- What are your goals for the coming race season?
- Outcome goals (e.g., FIS points, ranking, qualify for a certain level of races)?
- Process goals (e.g., what skill do you want to improve)?
- What strengths do you bring forward from this past season that will propel you into next season?
- What weaknesses have you identified that you need to improve?
- What has worked for you that you want to keep doing?
- What didn’t work for you that you absolutely must not repeat?
- What new things can you bring to your training to better prepare you for next season?
I encourage you to have your coach also complete the above assessments and answer the questions to ensure that your perceptions are consistent with theirs and based on agreed realities. Assuming you find general agreement in your responses, you can sit with your coach and use this information to create a comprehensive off-season training program. The desired outcome is to set yourself up for a successful 2022-23 race season in which you consistently ski faster and achieve your ski racing goals.
In my next article, I look forward to discussing goal setting. I hope you will join me to explore a path to being your best.