Judging from my experience until now, it is a fact that many athletes I have coached show improvement at the beginning of the season.
One reason is probably because motivation is high at the beginning of the season.
However, upon reflecting on the tendencies of former students, I have learned a lot and therefore, I think there are other reasons.
Thus, the hypothesis that I've come to accept is "visualization."
What I mean by "snowboard visualization" is that put your senses into the image of yourself being on the slopes and you replay that image of yourself on the slopes over and over in your mind.
Allow me to introduce to you a famous basketball study that was done.
A study conducted by Dr. Biasiotto (spelling corrected 8/4/14) at the University of Chicago was done where he split people into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make.
After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for about 20 minutes.
The second group just visualized themselves making free throws.
The third group did nothing.
After 30 days, he tested them again.
The first group improved by 24%.
The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball!!!!
The third group did not improve which was expected.
There's a lot of research like this that still exists and I believe that I am a personification of it.
It is said that the right side of the brain handles intuitive and sensible things such as "image."
It is also said that the right side of the brain in humans deals with the subconscious and that it actually can't distinguish between what's reality and what is not.
Essentially what happens is the image that is replayed in the right side of the brain causes the brain to hallucinate and act as if you actually had the experience.
The clearer the picture and the more times it is imagined the deeper that image is put into memory.
In other words, even though you're not snowboarding, in your mind, it's as if you had already snowboarded.
In the brain, when this image is replayed and kinesthesia is built up, signals are sent from the brain to the muscles.
As a result of that, the brain recollects it as if the image and muscles are linked.
This is how advanced snowboarders effectively use their time when they are not snowboarding.
You could say that this "image time" is equal to that of actual snowboarding time.
In the off season when my students can't snowboard, I make them do a lot of visualization.
I spend as much time on visualization as students who really enjoy visualization.
Students who really enjoy visualization spend more time for it???
Thus, these are kinds of students who show improvement at the beginning of the season.
For those of you who love snowboarding and want to improve, even if you can only snowboard a few weeks or 10 days out of the year, please make extreme use of visualization!
Even if you can only jump 10 times in 10 minutes wherever you snowboard, at home, you can visualize yourself jumping 6 times in 1 minute!
This is very efficient!
You CAN use the time in which you can't snowboard to improve a lot!
I'll show you how to do this in detail in another tutorial, so please check it out!
This is showing that if the arousal level is at about the middle, people can perform better or best.
The optimal arousal level increases a person’s concentration, so focus deeply on one thing at a time.
When the brain is in an optimal arousal level, it stops working on unnecessary tasks while continuing to work on limited tasks.
This is the state of concentration.
When you are having fun doing something, like when kids are playing and they forget about dinner time, you are in that state of deep concentration.
Therefore, your brain is working only for FUN stuff and doesn’t listen or see anything around you.
Of course, muscles are relaxed so unnecessary functions are turned off, but limited parts of muscles are working properly.
This is why FUN environments increase or bring out one's best performance.
Old famous athletes have always said to "Have fun" to bring out people's best.
Snowboarding is getting more competitive these days, but the roots of snowboarding are coming from Skateboarding and Surfing which are mostly just for fun.
So I think this method of increasing your performance is preferable for most general snowboarders.
But to make your snowboarding fun, you should know your optimal arousal level.
If you try too hard to make it fun and end up becoming hyper, you won’t be able to control your performance because your arousal level will be too high.
Now let's talk about why COMPETITIVE environments bring out one's best performance.
It's obviously because top athletes are always leading and bringing out their limits.
But what is happening in their mind and body?
Actually, I can't perform my best in this way.
I have experienced so many failures within this type of environment in the past.
What was happening in my mind and body was that my mind would panic and my muscles would stiffen before the start of a riding contest.
I was obviously in a state of high arousal where my performance levels would decrease too.
So my brain was visualizing that I would fail.
Then, I didn't believe I was performing my best and surviving in this environment.
With these negative emotions, my brain couldn’t just focus on one thing it and increased its focus of unnecessary tasks.
My son is not a snowboarder, but he plays soccer.
He performs very well sometimes, but also performs not so well other times.
It’s because he can't be competitive due to his personality, but he likes playing in a fun environment.
I'm taking videos every time they play a game and I analyzing their performance after the game.
-Yes, I'm a typical dad that has a lot of fun with my son, and it's my nature to analyze performances as a coach.-
When he’s performing well, he is moving very fast, but when he isn’t performing so well his moves are slowed down.
There is obviously a competitive environment when a game is being played.
So just like me, if he feels like he will have conflict with others, his arousal level will drop causing his performance to slow down.
But when the team is winning, he is so happy to play and his arousal level will increase, causing his performance to improve.
Let's bring it back in snowboarding.
Riders who survive in COMPETITIVE environments are only focusing on performing their best or winning.
They might visualize negative pictures, but they also visualize positive pictures more often than they do negative ones.
So they are seeing in their mind how they will succeed rather than how they will fail.
Then, they can believe in themselves and concentrate on only one thing which stops their brain from working on unnecessary tasks.
So, their brain and bodies will be somewhere between relaxed and tense, and arousal levels will be kept at the best level for their performance.
The Human brain has been developing throughout history.
Our ancestors were more like animals.
Animals have very limited brain functions for surviving in the law of the jungle.
But humans have developed a new brain around this old brain to provide other ways to survive.
So, we still have this old brain deep inside of our brain.
When we are in tough environments where we have to survive, this old brain function will be strongly activated and other unnecessary functions will be limited.
So our brain will be in the best state of concentration for one thing, as well as our bodies.
This is one of the hypotheses for why top athletes such as Shaun White perform at their best consistently.
Competitive environments are not realistic environments for general snowboarders to improve their snowboarding.
But if you have a rival amongst your snowboarding friends, you can be in a Competitive environment.
The reason why your friend may be a rival might be because of a girl or because of leadership within the group.
If you are in this situation, then you can have a chance to improve?!
But just like me, don't cause your arousal level to be too high from being in a Competitive environment.
If you get too deep into a Competitive environment and lose control of your mind, then a Fun environment would be best for your improvement.
Remember that Danny Davis, who is leading snowboarding as the Style master, is always having fun while snowboarding.
But he is winning in Competitive environments as well.
Either way, the key point is how to control your emotions so you can maintain your arousal level at the best level.
There are so many way to control our emotions that you can find on the internet.
Try finding the one that’s best for you and perform your best on the hill.
If you are able to consistently be at the best arousal level, it'll be better than having a coach beside you.
Thinking About Visualization Part 2!
Last time, we thought about concrete visualization methods.
This time, we will be introducing a variety of visualization categories.
Just by knowing these, you can become more efficient with the visualization methods!
Well, “Visualization” is said to be able to be divided into the two categories below.
Visualizing yourself as you see yourself on the outside.
(Like watching TV or an out-of-body experience)
Concentrating and visualizing something via your internal senses
(Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch, etc.)
Learning specific movement starts out by mimicking movement, and can be called “Objective” visualization.
Then, if you’re able to fully understand it as a body sensation, then you’re able to use “Subjective” visualization.
So first, mimic the appearance, then memorize the internal feeling.
If you don’t understand this order and are told to “Visualize!” then you won’t be able to do it.
If I watched a video of an aspiring athlete and mimic their posture and style, I’d have an understanding of that balance, and practice would be smooth!
Some of my students are only able to have a “Subjective” image.
There is no tangible picture (“Objective” image), so basically they don’t have specific “model” to learn from.
They probably have a lot of different past training experience that they drew from, and instead of having an actual image (video, demo etc.) to look at, they have that internal sense (“Subjective” visualization) to use once more.
Therefore, their performance isn’t being forced to look like the skateboarding style (the coexistence of trick difficulty and style), and instead looks more like the gymnastic style (more attention being paid to trick difficulty than a cool looking performance).
Nowadays, we’re in an era where just being good isn’t enough for riders, and that they should also have any kind of “cool” style.
More importance is being placed on “cool styles” than on difficulty.
Of course, any style is highly valued if its trick flow is natural, but in reality people like to see and show more of a skateboarding style.
From my past coaching experience, students who mainly use the “Subjective” visualization in fact didn’t have very much of a style (cool looking performance) when being observed.
However, they did have amazing skills that skipped playing videos in their head and learned tricks directly from their internal sense (“Subjective” visualization) from images that they’d looked at.
Furthermore, these “Objective” & “Subjective” visualizations can be thought to be divided similar to what is written below.
Internal & External Visualization
Essentially, this is represented as “Internal = Objective” and “External = Subjective”, but my gut feelings consider these to not be the same things.
Internal and external images are captured to be placed within the aforementioned “Subjective” images.
Examples：Kinesthesia, Touch(Temperature, Pressure, etc.), Muscle Awareness, Degree of Strength, Timing, Emotions
Whether you are internally imagining the moment you jump off, or imagining being grateful about succeeding at something, both are “Subjective Internal” visualizations.
Examples：Pictures coming in, Direction of movement (Gliding line), Sense of distance, Sound, Scent, Sense of speed
A snowboarder being filmed in the backcountry drops a snowball from the top of a cliff that he was trying to jump from.
Because he is visualizing his trajectory, distance and timing, he is using “Subjective External” Visualization.
The way to practice the Visualization method from the previous talk is to first analyze the movements of through objective visualization, then strengthen the objective visualization by watching videos.
Then, actually try to move into those positions, and convert it into the subjective image.
Check the positions in front of a mirror to make sure the objective visualizations and subjective visualizations are the same.
As I wrote earlier, you can start learning tricks from “Objective” visualizations but you’ll want to convert it into “Subjective” visualizations straightaway.
But, Subjective Visualization by itself lacks artistic quality.
It’s good to have both Objective images and Subjective images in mind at the same time.
Visualizing is a very common skill to apply while doing any sports to learn proper movement.
From when I first began to snowboard (in 1990) until now, I’ve been using this visualization method.
Thanks to my continuous use of this method, I’ve gotten to the point where I can use this intuition when watching my students ride.
This is all thanks to the mirror neurons inside of the brain.
Well, I’ve been using this visualization method since I was a child as well, and I would think that there was nothing that was too hard.
However, when teaching students on site, many of my students don’t understand the visualization method and are unable to do it.
Of course, since there are a lot of new challenges when it comes to teaching, it’s normal to not be able to visualize the best way to go about doing something.
But if I asked them, it seemed like they didn’t really visualize anything on a regular basis.
Visualizing is now kind of my habit as I use this skill on a daily basis while coaching, but I also understand that there was almost no situation in my students’ lives that would make them have to visualize something inside their heads until then.
So I tried to find out how they are able to understand and visualize movement that they have never done before.
To use the method in the best way possible, you should understand the functions of the left and right brain.
Before I reference these, there are a lot of simple classifications for each brain function similar to what’s listed below.
1. Analyzing Movements (Left Brain)
First, we will practice the basics of the visualization method, “Cognize.”
You can’t imagine something you haven’t done before.
Therefore, first analyze all movement in detail for that performance, and then you will understand how it can be done verbally.
While seeing the videos and sequence images, you should write it all out on paper.
It’ll be like you’re writing a “How To” tutorial.
This isn’t the imaginative “Right Brain” being used; it’s the data processing “Left Brain” at work.
2. Image Input（Right Brain）
Next, make the Image Controlling Right Brain store the images within your mind.
Try playing back the images over and over again.
By seeing the images over and over again, you can get to the point where you can close your eyes and vividly imagine the situation.
3. Understanding Intuition
With the detailed analysis that was written down and the video images that were memorized, you can practically try to position your body.
You can check your positioning in front of a mirror etc. to see if it’s a good position.
You can also use your cellphone camera like a mirror as well.
Now, you can recognize calculation errors with signals coming from your brain (images) and muscle movement exercises.
In other words, is what you see in your reflection the same as in the images? Is it any different than the analysis you wrote out?
What did your body feel like when you tried out what you imagined?
Those feelings of your muscles will be stored back into your brain as information.
Corrections can be made by rechecking the information sent back from the muscles with the images.
In short, you can compare and fix the data implanted in your Right and Left Brain and your intuition (in front of the mirror).
Read the analysis you wrote out, and watched the videos over and over again.
Position your body according to the analysis data in front of a mirror, and at the same time remember the feeling of your muscles while playing the video over again in your head.
Did you know that your right brain can’t distinguish reality from imagination?
The Left Brain is said to theoretically control the input of the Right Brain, but it seems when you are remembering something with emotions and concrete, detailed images, things are stored very deep in the Right Brain.
That is because the neurons become thicker and nerve connections become stronger with repetition.
The best visualization method is to paint the images in your head until it is detailed, place fun, good-feeling etc. emotions onto it and to repeat the processes over and over again.
Next time we will look into the different aspect of visualization!!
Fear is always there with any action sports.
I believe that everybody has faced their fears while snowboarding in the past.
Also not many tips around describing how to overcome a fear.
But this article will teach you a concrete idea to get over it.
Let’s find out what the fear is and how we can solve it.
What is Fear?
We first should understand what the fear is.
Then we can analyze and find out the way to face them.
Dictionary describes Fear as …
“It’s the unpleasant feeling you have when you think that you are in danger.”
What a perfect description!
So when we feel fear, we will feel being unpleasant and in dangerous situation.
It is because our brain remembers a close situation in the past.
While snowboarding for example, crashing on the jump or jibbing items, or on steeps and moguls.
We visualize bad scenarios when we are feeling fear, even if it hasn't happened yet.
So if the bad scenario doesn't happen or a good scenario comes up instead, we can destroy a fear.
Figure out exactly what the fear is.
Try writing down all the fears that you face now and in the past.
And find out a reason why it’s scary for you.
Now let’s try to figure out the fear in more detail.
What makes you scared can be sorted out into 6 issues “TTPPEE”.
We will sort out all of your listed fears after learning the 6 issues.
You might think that you are not ready because of your skill?
Get enough basic skill training on an easier environment.
And get solid skill and a confidence in those environments.
Or step down what you are working on when things are not going well.
For example, trick difficulty, speed, size of the item, slope angle, and so on.
Isn't it too early to hit this?
Even if you have enough skill to hit it, you shouldn't hit it in your first run of the day.
Did you follow proper progress to hit it?
You should be good at all basic moves, speed and timing in advance.
Have a plan and hit it at the right timing.
Are you warmed up?
Do you have an injury?
Aren't you tired?
Your body must be ready before challenge.
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