Taking a break from skiing or snowboarding is actually quite normal. And feeling apprehensive about sliding again is normal too. We’ll let you in on a little secret that even our instructors get a little nervous too. Everyone will have breaks from the sport, sometimes it’s just 6 months, other times it’s 20+ years! What we’re trying to say is that you’re not alone. Here are our top tips:
Returning To The Slopes With Confidence
Murray Whyte, one of our experienced instructors in Verbier, outlined 4 simple ways for you to return to the slopes with confidence:
- Get warmed up! Allow a few runs first thing with no performance to get tuned in to being back on skis.
- Take your time.
- Be prepared to feel a bit rusty. You will be worse at skiing if you’ve had a long break. Once you’ve accepted that we can get straight in and start working on what we need to within the comfort of a lesson.
- Let’s not try and rush progress – it takes time.
Let’s look at those points in a bit more detail…
Take it slow
Clicking back into your skis this year is going to be so exciting, but don’t get ahead of yourself and head to the closest black run you can see on the map. Start on an easy slope and familiarize yourself with the feel of sliding and gripping again. Pick a slope you think is easy, not a slope your friends or family think is easy. Find your groove and build up your confidence. You’re the only one that knows your limits and don’t be afraid to voice them if you’re in a large group.
As the day goes by, if you’re feeling tired, take a break. Keep an eye on the conditions, as typically, pistes are firm in the morning and soften up by the afternoon. So if you’re skiing early in the season, say in December or January, the pistes will be more firm compared to warmer spring days where the snow will be much heavier and wetter. So prioritize skiing in the morning and take the afternoon off and go to the spa if you need to.
Prepare your body
It might help to do some light mobility exercises before you ski or snowboard. As you’re getting dressed for a day on the mountain, flex your ankles, rotate your foot around your ankle and do some easy stretches to build strength and prepare your muscles for the activity ahead. It also helps to have a little stretch at the end of the day too, it will leave you feeling relaxed and subtle.
When we spoke to Rob Britton, he said his first port of call when returning to the slopes would be to physically prepare. Rob is also a personal trainer and highlights that…
‘Skiing can be a demanding sport across 3 planes of motion – that requires balance and accuracy of movement. A strong foundation will do everyone a world of good. Plus it helps reduce the chances of injury and can help mentally if you can trust your body to hold up.
Accuracy of movement takes time to feel and that may not happen straight away – frustration will make it take even longer.‘
So take Rob’s advice and begin with some easy ski fit exercises which only take 10 minutes out of your busy day.
Find what’s comfy for you
It’s going to be strange sliding your feet back into ski boots for the first time in potentially two years. Flex your ankles and wiggle around in your kit. Find what’s comfy and adjust as you go. It might be that you tighten the buckles on your boots as the day or week progresses. Don’t crank them up straight away and leave your feet cold and aching. Ski boots are funny old things, and not the comfiest at times, but if they are giving you grief, go back to the rental shop and explain what’s going on. Then you can get back on the slopes and find that sweet spot where you feel balanced and centred on the kit you’re using.
When we spoke to Zoe Fattorel, who works in St Martin de Belleville, she said that skiing is like riding a bike. Zoe tells clients ‘once you’ve learned it you will never forget it. You just need some time to get used to the sensation of your skis on the snow, after that everything will come naturally.’
Take a lesson
Unless you’re skiing in both the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere winters, it’s totally normal to have a break from skiing. Even after chatting to our instructor Meta Lavric, who trains has long winters training pre-season on the glaciers, race training she said…
‘I still get anxious about my first day of skiing after a long time – even after thousands of skiing days in my life, it’s normal. What works for me? I get over it by patiently taking my time to get the feel for sliding, gliding and edging on my first day.
I highly recommend doing it with an instructor who will take you through the steps to boost your confidence right back to the level where you’ve left off. It would be my pleasure to take you through the process in Morzine or Avoriaz.’
Take a look at our lesson availability to see if you can squeeze an hour or two in with one of our instructors at the start of your trip to boost your confidence and refresh your skills.
Have fun & relax
Whilst getting back into the swing of things, it’s easy to lose focus on why you’re there. It’s normal to feel frustrated when you’re struggling to do something you could before. Remember why you’re in the mountains. Remember to look around and enjoy the scenery. There’s no harm in grabbing a hot chocolate (or something stronger) and taking a break.
If you fall, laugh it off and try again. If you find it hard to get back up after a fall, practice and find a way that works for you. An instructor can help you feel more confident and find ways that work for you. Returning to the slopes with confidence can take time, but after all, skiing is meant to be fun. So make sure that’s your top priority. If it’s not fun, change it up and try something different. Whether that’s changing the run, changing your boots, changing the group your skiing with etc.
The air can be pretty dry in the mountains, so it’s important to stay hydrated. It could be a little shock to the system if you haven’t been at high altitudes in a while so prepare yourself by having a big glug of water every morning. If you feel your lips chapping, take a little bottle onto the slopes with you and sip on it if the bubble. [Apply lip salve and sunscreen too, whilst we’re on the topic!]
We recommend getting your hands on a marathon bottle, which are meant for trail running, but they are perfect for sliding in your pocket and taking up little space once they are empty. You can fill them up around the resort as you go. We found some on decathlon for £9.99 and they have a locking valve for drinking meaning no leakage in your jacket pocket.
Keep energy levels high
It’s not just kids that need a snack on the hill. It’s a good idea to make a pitstop at the supermarket to buy a multipack of snacks bars or you could always make your own. We love these peanut butter energy cups but if you’re giving them to kids in group lessons, be aware of potential nut allergies. Always ask the instructor if you’re unsure.
Make sure you’re eating plenty as skiing can be a demanding sport. And you’ll need all the energy you can get on the mountain! Plus there is always plenty of tasty options on the mountain to choose from. Bon appetite!
Returning to the slopes with confidence can be tricky, but it’s important to recognise your achievements and celebrate them. When we spoke to Sanne Romijn, an experienced instructor in St Anton, Austria who told us that her main piece of advice would be…
‘For everyone to accept that they can’t just pick up where they left off. It might feel frustrating to go ‘back’ a step or two, but this is totally normal! Take it easy, get back into it and you’ll be back to your old level before you know it!’
If you finally got down that run you’ve been looking at all week. Or you’ve been able to ski to that restaurant you couldn’t get to before. Celebrate it! Cheers to your success and remember that all these little wins are making you stronger and stronger. You got this!
If you’re thinking about heading back out to the slopes this winter, and need to book some lessons, head over to our lessons page where you can decide what’s right for you. And when you’re ready to book, slide over to www.newgenbooking.com to sort your lessons online. We look forward to catching up on the slopes!