Skiing Fast with a great mindset

NLP Techniques in Sport

By Roddy Willis Master Practitioner of NLP and Hypnosis

NLP creates a version of the world in which we, as individuals, are viewed as a collection of memories, memories with which we measure our behaviour in the here and now. As such, our reaction to present events and environments is dictated by the sum of all our past experience; we know that an oven is hot and also the very sensation of heat because we have a previous experience with which to gauge it.

However, our learnt action toward a hot oven has gone through three processes to become part of our current memory: distortion, deletion and generalisation.

Our memory of learning that the oven is hot can easily be distorted. Imagine yourself as a three year old you. You want to touch the oven, an experience by which you would discover the sensation of heat. You reach out a hand but are stopped by your mother shouting. Your infant memory of this event is very different from hers: you feel hurt and unloved even though she acted from a wish to protect you. And it is this distorted event that you remember.

A deleted memory is often caused by a more traumatic experience. For example, you are severely burnt when you touch the hot oven and your mother scalds you as she rushes you to hospital. At this point your sub-consciousness quickly deletes the memory to prevent you from being overwhelmed by the ordeal. The memory hasn’t gone but has been written over with a blank.

A generalisation of this memory will have a focus – a view of your hand as it is about to touch the oven perhaps. This image will be associated with the enormous stream of information that your senses take on but that cannot be processed all at once and so are stored in your sub-conscious.

With these three processes running simultaneously we are storing distorted, deleted and generalised memories and using these to measure the current event.

So how does this apply to Sport?

Case study no.1:

An aspiring female rock climber who wants to make it to national level competition but is unable to perform to her true ability at competition.

When questioning the athlete about her performance a memory pops up from when she was eight. Her memory is of her first love of sport – gymnastics. She had been training at her gymnastics club 15 hours a week and loved it. The trainers wanted her to increase her training to 21 hours a week as they felt she had the talent to be very good. However, her mother thought this was too many hours for a girl of her age. The athlete’s strongest memory was sitting on the sofa as her mother rang the club to say she would not be coming to gymnastics any longer; she felt her world crumble around her.

This memory affects the present performance of the athlete by the arousal of two memories: her love of sport and her fear that it may be taken from her should she become too good at it. As a result, her sub-consciousness limits her achievement at rock climbing in an attempt to prevent it from being ‘taken away’ as gymnastics was.

In this case you can see that a distorted, deleted and generalised memory has caused a sub-conscious performance block as a form of self-protection.

The trick is to get the athletes memories to integrate to have the same goal. With the use of NLP techniques it is possible to re-organise memories to have this effect. In doing this we can create a positive change of our view of the present event thus enhancing sporting performance.

For more information Roddy can be contacted at: Roddy


A sign of an amazing winter in Verbier

Verbier Snow Prediction for ski season 15/16

Verbier Snow Prediction - Massive insects

A sign of the coming mega winter in Verbier

Verbier snow prediction for ski season 15/16

It’s been one of the warmest Septembers since records began in 1864, according to MeteoSwiss it’s the third consecutive month with temperatures higher than normal by at least 2.5 degrees – so what does this mean for the winter?

Yes, it is that time of year! And it is time to get the winter juices flowing with a spot of snow-forecasting for the coming winter ski season in Verbier. As ever we’ll see almost anything as a sign this winter will be the biggest winter ever….

So predictably our prediction is: It is going be bigger than last winter and the mega-dump will start on the 7th of December – And the snow in in Verbier will be the driest, coldest and fluffiest ever.

What is our prediction based on! Well… currently there is a deluge of large insects that can be seen in and around Verbier (see above photo). We’ll be posting more evidence in the next few days. Some locals are also saying that the spiders are massive and in abundance and that the trout are swimming in circles in the river Dranse. Weird.

I’d love to hear from you if you have your own theories and methods for predicting this winters’ snowfall. If your theory is good enough I’ll even pop it up online for you!

Otherwise, maybe you just want to book a ski lesson.


Telemark Racer Jack Harvard

Telemark – Racing Psychology

Telemark Racer Jack Harvard

Competing at a top level in any sport provides challenges for the performer both physically and psychologically. In snowsports the psychological factor is too often overlooked by athletes.

In telemark racing there are many mental barriers that one has to overcome in order to perform optimally. Unlike conventional alpine racing there are many different aspects to the race, if you look at the flagship FIS race, the Telemark Classic event there are three different ‘disciplines’ all combined into one race: starting off with a typical GS, there will be a jump somewhere along the way which a certain distance has to be cleared in order not gain any penalty points. Following this, usually toward the end of the course there is a 360 degree banked turn followed by a skating section lasting anything from 45 seconds to a few minutes. This is a very brief description of a very complex set of events – all happening within a 2 – 4 minute period.

At a recreational skier it is difficult to imagine some of the psychological demands put upon elite racers. In my mind there are two issues that are constantly affecting our performance on the mountain:

  1. ‘Concentration’ – this is the mental quality to focus on the task. At World Cup races there are many distractions which you have to put to the back of your mind, things like what opponents are doing, public announcements and many other surrounding distractions. Concentration is a personal quality which people learn to develop in different ways. For me this has taken some time – but during this last season I have learned to switch everything off and focus purely on the race.
  1. ‘Control’ is the ability to deal with and maintain ones emotions. One of the emotions that effects a lot people at the start of a race is anxiety. It comes in two forms: physical (butterflies, sweating, needing the toilet) and mental (worry, confusion and lack of concentration). This becomes easier to control with experience – I vividly remember almost soiling my race suit at the start of my first World Cup race! As confidence grows anxiety levels are reduced. One technique the team practices in the off-season is mental imaginary: visualising pervious good performances and reminding ourselves how they felt and also imagining various courses and how we would cope with them. This can be done anywhere, in the car, on the treadmill (or in my case during university lectures)!

Another area of emotion that is constantly affecting our performances in ski racing is ‘arousal.’ Going back my A-Level P.E, quite a few years ago, I recall the inverted-U model of arousal which very simply illustrates how low levels of arousal will result in a performance below par because the skier is not psyched up. As arousal increases so does performance, up to a certain point where performance drops off due to ‘over-arousal’. Getting the right balance right can be issue sometime. An example of this was at the final World Cup race of the season, held in La Plagne. After a long, hard two weeks racing everyone was feeling the strain physically and mentally but knew there was one more race left. For this reason it was hard for many racers get psyched enough to really get in the ‘zone’. As it happens I finished with my best result of the season!

It’s clear that psychology plays an important role in skiing at every level so next time you’re on the hill think about what is going through your mind?


Powder in Verbier

Off Piste Conditions | Verbier | North South Divide

Powder in Verbier

Off Piste Conditions in Verbier

There is definitely a wealth divide in Verbier, only the divide isn’t being measured with cash but with snow. And interestingly it is the north which has more than the south. The south facing slopes of Verbier are no longer white, or shades of white and brown, they are green! Spring really is here very early. However the recent snow fall last weekend has help keep the north rich in the white stuff, with north facing skiing in good condition. More snow is forecast for the coming weekend, I’ll keep you posted as to how the wealth is divided!

If you need some help over coming the divide this winter in Verbier then please do contact me Roddy Willis Verbier Ski Instructor.


Fresh tracks in Rock Garden Verbier

Epic Powder and Cuckoo clock chalets

Verbier Snow Report

Fresh tracks in Rock Garden Verbier

Verbier Snow Report

Errant Verbier Ski Instructor and Snow Reporter reporting in. The ski addicts out there will love my excuse for being a bit slack on reporting back the good news!

Yes , I have been out there playing in some of the finest snow available. I am now on about ten consecutive days of fantastic powder. Starting last week in Zinal for four days with some great clients and then heading back to Verbier in time for Christmas and yet another dump of snow on Christmas eve.

As of today all the classic Verbier itineraries are skied out. However, with a little walking it was possible to find some great snow.  Particularly good today was Rocky Garden where the snow was just perfect.

Please contact me if you think you’d like some help with your powder skiing skills?

Today We Found The Cure For Cabin Fever

Cure Cabin Fever with some deep powder skiing

Backcombe Verbier – Hidden Powder Stash

Cure Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever Cure. If you have been in the Alps over the last few days and have been holed up inside sheltering form the Snowmageddon. Then you might be suffering from Cabin Fever. Symptoms include:  Restlessness, irritability, paranoia, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping and a general distrust of everyone.

Unsurprisingly, not many cases of Cabin Fever have been recorded over recent years! If current predictions for snowfall are correct, then there will be more days of no skiing. Simple, because there is too much snow. Then we should expect to see outbreaks of Cabin Fever in ski resorts across the Alps.

There are not many cures for Cabin Fever.  Here are some of the ones we know about. Go outside! Research has shown that even brief interactions with nature can promote improved cognitive functioning and overall well-being. I cured myself today by going outside and skiing some lush Pow and to boot the sun appeared for two runs, see photo above. Now as I look out the window it is dumping again! And I am starting to feel a little restless.

If you have a good cure for Cabin Fever or if you just want to go outside and ski some fresh tracks let me know.


Lifts closed - to much snow - time to ski down to Le Chable

Skiing from Medran to La Chable

Lifts closed - to much snow - time to ski down to Le Chable

Verbier Off Piste | Medran to Le Chable

If you read some of the press in late November and early December you’d have thought that there was going to be no snow or skiing ever again in Switzerland. Well, the no skiing part might have been right on some days like today but the reason certainly isn’t a lack of snow! Today the lifts were shut and we skied Verbier Off Piste to le Chable, great snow and great fun.


Rocky Garden Verbier

Rocky Garden Verbier – Let the party rock

Rocky Garden Verbier

In Rocky Garden Verbier today the party was still chilled. The darkened corners of Rocky Garden away from the heat of sun there is still epic powder to be found. If, corn or spring snow is your thing then the season to be merry is here for those in the know. Like all great parties timing is the key, arrive to early and be welcomed by a crusty hard host. Arrive to late and all the guests have turned to slush and mush. Please contact me if you need a party guide to Verbier.


Colder weather is coming this weekend

Forty Days Of Lent… In Verbier!

Easter Skiing in Verbier

Easter Skiing in Verbier

It seems to be only a few days ago that we were celebrating Shrove Tuesday. Eating banana filled pancakes smothered in chocolate sauce and washed down, nicely, with a little too much white wine. So, what on earth has this got to do with a snow report from Verbier? Well, as I said it seems like only a few days ago that I was stuffed to the gunnels and in need of forty days of Lent to recover from my over indulgence. However, with a sudden rise in temperature, it is as if the forty days of Lent have passed and the skiing is more akin to Easter. All very interesting. But, I think we will be firmly back on track with Lent from Saturday with the return of minus temperatures and HOPEFULLY some new snow.

The picture above shows my overheated skiing companions on the run to Mache and enjoying some fresh tracks high up the valley then soft slushy bumps on the lower slopes.

More spiders in the snow

Verbier Snow Prediction Winter 2011-12 | Snow-Spiders

Verbier Snow Prediction

Massive Spider – It’s a sign

Verbier Snow Prediction

Each year I like to have a go at predicting the level of snowfall coming next winter to Verbier. You might remember last year I predicted that Volcanic ash would cause the ‘Mother of all Dumps’ and it was going to be a season of mega Pow! As you might imagine I need to find a different method of predicting next winters’ snowfalls, volcanoes in Iceland with strange names really didn’t produce the goods last winter.

MysticMikey (the guru of snow prediction) on Twitter has suggested trout swimming the wrong way and a ton of berries = SNOW. But I now think the number of oversized spiders in Verbier is the real talisman of mega snow. And here is the proof that next winter will produce the hundred-year-storm and we’ll ski fresh tracks every day of the winter.

Spiders helping predict snow in Verbier

More spiders…

If you have any pictures of whooper spiders that prove my theory? Then please do send them to me and I’ll publish them. Or, if you have seen any other signs that the storm is coming then please let me know.