By Edie Thys Morgan
What’s the best way for NASTAR racers to sharpen their tools this spring and summer? As a longtime racer, coach and mother, I’ve been lucky enough to acquire plenty of advice — even more,so in the spring, after a couple of months soaking up the torrential flow of observations and excellent chats on the sidelines. That’s when the lessons of the year are fresh.
Here’s is a smattering of the things I’ve picked up along the way that should be helpful to NASTAR racers.
1. Keep a journal.
The nature of journals is that they don’t have much value until you look back on them. So it’s likely that somebody sometime has to boss you into the habit of keeping journals. They’re good for so many things, from venting and sorting feelings and seeing the humor in situations that are not remotely funny in the moment, to tracking where you’ve been and of course for assessing what worked and what didn’t. Some coaches advise kids to start keeping a journal about each of their race hills. Where are the subtle sidehills? How do you set up over the terrain? Where can you let it run? Is there a place you can warm up at the top? As a NASTAR racer, you’ll likely run across new hills that you are likely to meet again and again throughout your skiing careers.
2. Eat right.
Food is a huge part of the learning curve: getting enough of it, getting the right stuff, planning ahead to have it when and where you need it. Some NASTAR racers need help connecting the dots between a good breakfast and a good performance. One mom told me about how it took most of the season for her kid to figure out how to navigate lunch. Scarfing down a cheeseburger or pizza wasn’t going to cut it, so he learned to pack lots of smaller snacks and energy bars. On a related note, using the offseason to teach kids the basics of cooking a nutritious meal from staples available in a typical mini mart will keep them from living on ramen and Easy Mac.
3. Stake your claim and believe.
As the aphorism goes, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. One of my all time favorite athletes was a relentlessly positive and proudly goofy group cheerleader, totally unacquainted with the eye of the tiger. Nonetheless, at the beginning of one season she announced in a goal-setting meeting that she wanted to focus more and to push herself. Much of the room laughed, but the coaches did not. At the end of the season, she had wildly exceeded all expectations, including her own; qualified for the end of year championships; and led the team in both cheer and performance. So often, NASTAR racers are just starting to believe in themselves near the end of the season, which is when they get a whiff of success but run out of time. Flipping the process — taking that leap of faith to believe first — opens you up to bigger disappointment but also to the possibility of bigger success.
4. Invest in something free: Rest.
Maintenance is money in the bank for NASTAR racers. Modest, consistent efforts will make a huge difference for next season. One of the easiest ways to train in good mechanics on snow is through awareness and discipline in everyday movements off snow. When you see someone with wild arm movements in any sport, you can pretty well envision what she’ll look like on snow.
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