Mental training involves the process of developing the mental skills needed to strengthen and condition your mind as you pursuit your performance potential. Mental skills training is systematic training of the mind to enhance sporting performance. Mental skills are a key factor in achieving sporting success. Mental skills, just like physical skills, take repetition, practice, and game-time application to develop. When you tell an athlete to concentrate what exactly are you asking them to do? There are different types of concentration or focus or attention and different tasks require the of use different attentional styles. Good performance is dependent on the ability to identify the attentional focus you need for a given task, get this focus, and then switch from this focus of attention to another as the situation demands - you need to focus on the relevant cues while ignoring distractions.
Goal setting is one of the most valuable mental training tools when approached in the correct manner. Goal setting is an effective means of building self-confidence in addition to being an excellent source of motivation. It will also provide a focus for training. Goal setting is like a map. First of all the destination (long term goal) needs to be identified, then the quickest and most economical way to arrive there needs to be determined (each step being a short term goal or “action step”). Through doing this, attention is being directed towards the task in hand and time and energy are not wasted by taking unnecessary detours. Goals should be set for all performance areas (physical, mental, tactical, and technical, enjoyment). Goals may be ‘really’ long term (dream goals) or ‘really’ short term (goal for a training run). The ability to relax your muscles and cope with nerves is important for good athletic performance. Nerves often lead us to contract every muscle in the body instead of just the ones necessary. Consequently, this affects our co-ordination and timing which negatively affects our performance. However, in order to reduce muscle tension, you must first be aware that it exists. Therefore, start to become aware of signs of tension in your body both when skiing and going about your daily activities. Once you have identified tension in your body you can work towards reducing it and becoming more relaxed.