Image Credit: GEPA

It’s hard to believe that we are only weeks away from the start of another ski season. The snow guns are blasting in Colorado and I will be on snow with athletes soon. For some of you, I’m sure you’re excited to be able to snap into your skis again after being off snow for the summer. For others of you, you’re excited to keep the momentum going after many days on snow in Mt. Hood, Chile, New Zealand, Saas Fe, and elsewhere. 

In a post at the beginning of the prep period, I exhorted you to buy into the notion that Next Season Starts…NOW! In that post, I encouraged you, after a short break to rest and recover, to use the summer and fall prep periods to continue to develop yourself physically, technically, and mentally. That progression continues as you get on snow in the next weeks and months. You are now entering a critical final preparation period in which you want to consolidate all of the gains you’ve made in the off season and fine tune your skiing so you are a lean, mean speed machine this race season.

Your motto during this important prep period should be: “Money in the bank, baby, money in the bank!” (it won’t work unless you say “baby!”). What do I mean by that, you might be asking? Well, you should think of all of your preparations as deposits that you’re making in your ski racing “bank.” Your goal is to put as much “money” (i.e., effort, improvement) in the bank because you want to write as big a “check” as you possibly can on race day. What makes ski racing different from a debit card is that, in ski racing, there is no overdraft protection, meaning you can’t make withdrawals that you can’t cover. The bottom line is that with ski racing, you can only take out what you put into it. 

I have a few recommendations as you enter this final prep period. 

First, assuming you’ve worked hard this off-season, if you haven’t acknowledged all of the deposits you’ve been making to your ski-racing bank account, now is the time to do it. Think of the hours of hard work you’ve put in in the gym, on the road, track, and field, and, of course, on the hill. Recognize the improvements you’ve made physically, technically, tactically, and mentally. Add up all those deposits and make note of the size of your account. Use that number to gain confidence in your ability to achieve your goals in the coming season; the more “money” you have in the bank, the more confidence you will have to spend next winter.

Second, in the coming months before your first race, ask yourself how you can put even more money in the bank. What do you need to really work on during this final prep period? Increase your strength or mobility? Getting better at tuning your skis? Or honing some mental area such as your intensity or focus? Whatever it is, identify what you need to work on most and really commit these next few months to making the most deposits to your bank account as possible. 

Your goal, when you get in the starting gate of your first race of the season, is to be able to say to yourself, “Money in the bank, baby, money in the bank!” Simply translated, this statement means “I’m as prepared as I can be to ski my fastest.” When you kick out of the gate, you’ll know you’re ready to make a big, fat withdrawal that will enable you to ski as well as you can. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee success, but, at the end of the race day, what more can you do?

Want to make mental training a part of your off-season training program? Take a look at my online mental training courses

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Jim Taylor
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- Jim Taylor, Ph.D., competed internationally while skiing for Burke Mountain Academy, Middlebury College, and the University of Colorado. Over the last 30 years, he has worked with the U.S. and Japanese Ski Teams, many World Cup and Olympic racers, and most of the leading junior race programs in the U.S. and Canada. He is the creator of the Prime Ski Racing series of online courses and the author of Train Your Mind for Athletic Success: Mental Preparation to Achieve Your Sports Goals. To learn more or to contact Jim, visit drjimtaylor.com
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