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Training the mind to improve snowboard performance - Interview 1 Ben Kinnear

We interviewed the best athletes and coaches in the business to find out how they recognise psychological factors that prevent improvement in snowboard performance and the techniques they use to overcome them.

Interviews: Corinne Mayhew (August 2015)

Interview 1: Ben Kinnear - GB Park & Pipe Academy Coach, BASI Snowboard Trainer & ISTD Snowboard Instructor.

1. What have you found to be the most common psychological barriers experienced by your clients/team?

I think this is a super interesting subject and we spend a lot of time considering this. To be honest most of it comes back as theory and really interesting models etc - rarely is it applicable or easy to use. 

We look a lot at bioenergetics, specifically the idea that combining self talk / NLP with positive physical behaviours and anchors can really boost someone's session or competition. I'm definitely interested in that ‘spiral’ that you so often see, where one positive experience or thought or action will spur on more. When you read into the bioenergetics a little it makes sense to me, the whole physical / psychological connection is really strong.


2. Which successful techniques have you used to overcome these barriers?

Perception / reality - I am also personally interested in the blurb out there that talks a lot about how we look at things and how that can shape it too easily for us. or example, a Basi candidate looking at the video footage looking for faults, or imagining before he drops in that the trainer will ONLY be looking for the bad habit they have. What I'm trying to say is that if we frame it all in that light in our heads, and communicate with ourselves and important others, then it CAN become a bit more of a reality. The frame of mind that a BASI candidate is in has such a huge effect on his or her performance in my opinion.

If you go into the exam already listening out for the criticism of your technique then you're listening from the wrong ‘frame’. I’ve spoken to so many candidates who are listening with such a large ‘pre-judgement’ of what I will say, that I may as well talk about monkeys! If you are looking for the negative you’ll find it too easily and there is a huge difference between that and instead striving for mastering a new skill or a new idea. We all do it - when we listen to each other we often have ideas of what the other person will say and therefore miss a lot of info.

I don’t think any one technique has ever been a ’success’ for everyone. Instead, I see psychological break-throughs as complex and very personal events. When I think about times where there has been a ‘break through’ its normally been through a large trial and error between coach / athlete, but the athlete is persistent enough to learn to trust the process and trust the person trying to help them. Ultimately the individual themselves need to desire the outcome/achievement enough.