Psychological Skills Training for Snowboarding

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Psychological skills training (PST) can be used for a number of different purposes whether related to sports, exercise, or just plain psychological counseling of one’s self. Depending upon your desired outcome from a PST program your script may help with your overall health and fitness, or to overcome situations in which you feel anxiety and pressure from. People’s lack of knowledge in PST is the main reason coaches don’t feel confident when teaching this skill set to their athletes or clients. They go about the approach to coaching in a particular setting by giving a concentration cue to a player as he/she is completing the exercise or taking the final shot or swing. What we forget to realize is the player/person isn’t going to be able to react to these cues if they haven’t practiced relaxation skills for that specific situation. Another reason why sport and exercise participants neglect PST is because of their misconception they do not have enough time to practice these PST skills to enhance their performance, little do they know it takes 10-20 minutes each day to improve these skills. Every sport, or exercise program requires a unique skill to accomplish the task or competition at hand. This is why I chose snowboarding because not only is it my new found passion, but it is a very individualized sport which requires incredible focus and relaxation. Without focus and relaxation a snowboarders routine may be affected during his/her freestyle run lowering your overall score and keeping you off the podium. Many of the elite snowboarders, including Shaun White are using PST training to prepare themselves for competitions. Most recently we’ve seen this in the 2011 Winter X games where we saw Shaun White go on to become the only 4 time repeat winner of Super pipe. Without proper mental visualization, relaxation and preparation he may not have been able to repeat this year given his age and the rising skill levels of his competitors. Relaxation Script

Relaxation in snowboarding is everything both before and during a competition because of the small margin of error in extreme sports. Progressive Muscle relaxation (PMR) can be used to cope with anxiety, stress, and muscle tightness all three of which play a major role in a snowboarders ability to perform and land a trick in competition. Too much arousal before competition can lead to a rushed feeling which is never good in the extreme sports world. This is why PMR can play such a critical role in effectively controlling these sensations one may feel before and during competition. In snowboarding your lower extremities and core dictate most of the movement required for a trick. This is why we will concentrate on the relaxing the feet and legs first before core, and finally the upper extremities. The morning of competition set aside 30 minutes of alone time in a dimly lit room and have no outside distractions including other people. Wear comfortable clothes which will not interrupt thought process during the relaxation exercise. Lay completely flat with your arms at your sides and relax your entire body. Starting with your toes curl them all the way in holding them in a curled position for 10 seconds before releasing them halfway and holding for an additional 10 seconds. Once you’ve held your toes in those two positions for a total of 20 seconds relax them completely allowing the tension to release. This process should take a total of 30-45 seconds. Moving on to the calf and feet muscles push your feet and toes outwards tensing your calf muscles, continue holding them in this position for 10 seconds before allowing them to release tension to half. Hold for an additional 10 seconds in this position before allowing your calves and feet to relax. Give your calves and feet a total of 20 seconds to relax. Once you’ve worked your toes, feet, and calves we will concentrate on the two largest muscles in your legs the quadriceps, and hamstrings. Laying flat on your back with your legs...
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