By Jim Taylor
The NASTAR race season is a wrap. It’s time to hang up your skis, pack away your gear, kick back, relax and forget about ski racing for a few months, right? Wrong!
Being the best NASTAR racer you can be means doing your preparations for next season. After a short period of rest and relaxation, some planning and training will get you ready to continue your progress toward your NASTAR goals next winter.
Evaluate This Past Season
• Did you improve physically, technically, tactically, and mentally?
• Did you achieve the results you wanted (if not, why not)?
• Did you make progress toward your long-term goals?
• What did you do well?
• What areas do you need to improve on?
The answers to these questions will help you decide what in your NASTAR training and racing worked, and what did not. You can then use this information to create an offseason training program to build on your strengths and alleviate your weaknesses.
It’s About Preparation
How you ski NASTAR next year depends on what you do this spring, summer, and upcoming fall. The physical conditioning gains you make and the technical, tactical, and mental skills you develop in the preparation period will determine how much you improve and whether you reach your NASTAR goals next winter. Two areas can help you maximize your preparation.
First, commit to a physical conditioning program. For top NASTAR performances, you need muscle, strength, and power (plus, of course, agility and quickness). An organized fitness program that may involve weight training, plyometrics, speed work, and stretching.
Second, the offseason is the best time to engage in mental training. Just like physical conditioning and technical skills, mental aspects of ski racing (e.g., confidence, intensity, and focus) take time and effort to develop. An organized program of mental training can have huge benefits when you enter the new NASTAR race season.
To help you figure out how to work on all of these areas, write down your NASTAR goals for next season. Then, using the information you gained from your evaluation of last year, set specific goals for your physical conditioning, technical and tactical development, and mental training to achieve those goals. These goals should be specific and structured into a training plan.
Motivation: If you have trouble motivating yourself toward your NASTAR goals, find a training partner. And post reminders where you can see them — of your favorite NASTAR memories, racers you admire, or inspirational quotes that fire you up.
Confidence: This is like putting money in the bank: The more confidence dollars you deposit now, the bigger confidence drafts you’ll be able to withdraw next winter. If you’re working hard and improving during the offseason, when the winter begins, you’ll have the confidence that you have done everything possible to ski your best and achieve your NASTAR goals.
Mental imagery: This involves regularly imagining yourself in different NASTAR training and race situations; it’s like weight training for the mind. It can strengthen your technical, tactical, competitive, performance, and mental “muscles.”
Your goal when you get in the starting gate of your first NASTAR race next season is to be able to say: “I’m as prepared as I can be to achieve my goals.” And, with all of that hard work in the offseason that you deposited in the bank, the chances are you will be successful and reach your goals.
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