Photo: Yusuf Gürel Val di Fassa 2019 World Junior Alpine Ski Championships Asher Jordan Train to Race

Key Messages

Ski Racers

  • View every competition as a learning opportunity. 
  • Focus on the process and all the variables you can control before a competition. 
  • Practice readiness and be flexible in responding to any competitive situation that may arise in your sport. 
  • Continue to use focusing, positive self-talk, imagery, relaxation, and activation strategies at the appropriate times for you. 
  • Work with your coach to develop a competitive routine that gets you ready to compete. 


  • Focus on the positives and reinforce a ski racers' readiness for competition.
  • Help ski racers focus on a few simple process goals for the competitions that will maximize development while avoiding mental or emotional burnout from participation in too many races. 


  • Positively support your competitive ski racers. 
  • Showing encouragement, enthusiasm, and excitement around competition are good, but too much can add extra pressure on a ski racer. Act your usual self before, during and after a race.
  • Avoid statements such as "I hope you win," "Looking forward to seeing you on the podium," and "How are you feeling?" before a competition. Despite their good intentions, such statements can be distracting and take away from a ski racers normal pre-competition routine. 
  • Communicate well with your athlete and give him or her space if needed before and during a competition. 
  • Celebrate together afterwards when possible. 

Core Principles

  • Ski racers develop awareness of how day-to-day training connects to being prepared for competition. 
  • Knowledge about individual responses to performance anxiety and strategies for managing and accepting responses occurs. 
  • Ski racers practice and refine pre-, post- and in-competition routines and develop competition strategy planning and execution. 
  • Ski racers practice focusing and refocusing plans and learn distraction-management skills needed for competition. 
  • The practice of refinement of post-performance debriefing is further developed. 

Mental Fitness Activities

Phase Mental Fitness Activities
  • Set appropriate goals for training and competition, encompassing different types of goals (e.g., process, performance, outcome goals).
  • Develop sound focus and refocus plans. 
  • Use imagery to reinforce and correct key skills and desired outcomes for performance. 
  • Refine pre-determined competitive routines/plans. 
  • Continue to develop and refine optimal activation level and arousal adjustment. 
  • Execute and test performance plans developed for competition. 
  • Establish one or two simple cues to focus attention on important segments of the competition. 
  • Follow and refine pre-determined competition routines/plans.
  • Use positive reminders that maintain confidence and motivation. 
  • Introduce and develop the practice of mindfulness. 
  • Normalize, accept, and regulate emotions such as anxiety, fear, and anger. 
  • Debrief performances; highlight strengths and areas for improvement. 
  • Focus on the positive lessons from each performance. 

Cognitive Development

During late adolescence, ski racers begin to use their complex thinking skill to focus on more global thoughts. Parents and coaches can assist in the cognitive development of the late adolescent ski racer by maintaining and encouraging open and honest communication and through the demonstration of healthy living including overcoming challenging and stressful situations.  

  • Neurologically, the brain matures at about 19-20 years of age.
  • Critical thinking becomes more established. 
  • Ski racers will become capable of self-analyzing and correcting and refining skills.
  • Ski racers are able to make decisions about their training pathway.
  • Well developed information processing skills improve the ski racers ability to visualize verbal instructions. 

Key Concepts:

  • Set up environments to enable ski racers to develop their own solutions. Allow athletes input, reduce the amount of feedback and allow ski racers to think and find their own solutions. 
  • Feedback should be mostly situational and based on the environment
  • Focus on external cues be mindful of timing 
  • Teamwork between ski racers and coaches when it comes to decision making, involve ski racers in decision making and planning team or group activities. 
  • Ski racers review their role in their team and the community. 
  • There should be a complete understanding and acceptance of the need for rules, regulations and structures. Rules must be clearly defined. 
  • Make ski racers a part of the decision making process. 

Ski racers begin to critically think about what kind of adult they would like to be and how they fit into the adult world. 

  • Major decisions on career, education, and lifestyle are the priority at some point in this stage.
  • Make professional guidance available and consider off-season educational opportunities.  
  • There will be "pulls" on time and energy.  Build in breaks and be aware of external pressures. 
  • Encourage healthy living choices, allow time for independent social interaction. 
  • Development of personal views and intolerance for opposite opinions. Listen and acknowledge.
  • Ski racers will weigh and evaluation parental input. 
  • Peer group pressure can lead to conflicting loyalties, ski racers may give up the sport because of peer pressure. Be sensitive in goal setting to ensure common goals are established. 
  • Treat ski racers as adults. Share goals and work cooperatively towards them. 
  • Maintain a coach led structure.