Make the most of your summer ski camp

August 14th, 2017 (Collingwood, ON) — The new U16 High Performance program is now on snow in Zermatt, Switzerland until August 26th. A total of 26 athletes and five coaches made the journey this past Saturday lead by AOA U16 Athletic Lead Heather Metzger from Georgian Peaks Ski Club. For some athletes this is their first summer camp ever!

As a lead up to their departure Heather shared this amazing note by Jeff Lackie, a former AOA Coach. Jeff is in his 3rd year coaching Mikaela Shiffrin and previously coached the Canadian Team and before that the Ontario Team.

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“Having coached every level between U14 and the World Cup, I’ve discovered a few common traits that all successful athletes posses, be that U16 Provincial champions or FIS World Cup Overall winners. With varying degrees of proficiency, they implement effective practice better than their competition.

I think it was coach Wooden who said; “skills come from struggle”. There is a lot of information around skill acquisition and most of it amounts to appropriate stress, followed by adequate rest to grow and improve. Stress + Rest = Growth. Stress has a negative connotation but in reality it’s the only thing thats ever evoked change. Don’t shy away from struggle. Embrace it!

Make this upcoming trip to Zermatt as productive as possible with ‘effective practice’. Effective practice is consistent, intensely focused, and targets on content and weaknesses that lie at the edge of your ability.

1. Focus on the task at hand. Have a clear concise plan of 1 or 2 things you’re trying to master, remain focused on those things, don’t change course midway through the training session. If it becomes difficult to remain focused, take a short break and re-focus.

2. Start out slowly or in slow motion. Gradually increase the speed you’re skiing with your level of competency. Most World Cup athletes start every day with slow deliberate drills to reinforce what they want to see in their skiing. If you can’t link slow outside ski skiing, how do you expect to do it under increased speed/forces?

3. Frequent repetitions with frequent breaks. We rarely train full length courses, better to ski 10 turns with proficiency then 35 with mixed results. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect but it definitely makes permanent, therefore, it’s paramount you’re spending your limited training time practicing the right things.

4. Once a physical motion has been established it can be rehearsed by visualization. I’ve never met a successful athlete that didn’t WATCH A LOT OF SKI VIDEO. Find video of the best and watch it frame by frame, at slow speed and at full speed. Watch it until you can close your eyes and see it in vivid detail. It’s your target, refer to it every T-bar ride, at the top and bottom of every run. If you’re struggling to memorize it have a copy readily available on your phone or tablet. When you aren’t on snow don’t let a day go by without watching a clip or two multiple times.

Jeff Lackie
Women’s World Cup, Coach
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association

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