The Perfect Snowboard Setup

This article will help you with your snowboard setup in a few easy to follow steps. What I love most about snowboarding is the simplicity. One person, one snowboard and one fresh line is all you need to have the time of your life. Simple alterations to your equipment and stance can really affect how your board will perform and ultimately how awesome the ride can be. Here are a few quick tips for the perfect snowboard setup, so that next time you’re on the mountain you can strap in and shred without any restrictions.

Boots

The first point of contact between you and your board. Soft boots are good for freestyle riders, as they are more forgiving at slow speeds. Stiff boots are better for free riding and carving as they give more support at high speeds and a more solid connection between you and your board. If you have a stiffer boot, but you want to experience how a soft boot feels, try loosening your boots up and making a few turns.

Next, getting the fit right is essential. Your toes should touch the end of your boot and when you apply pressure to the tongues through your shins, your toes should slide back slightly, but still have light contact with the inside. There should be NO heel lift when pressing your shins against the tongues. Remember that your boots will ‘pack out’ or expand inside as they wear in, so it’s better to start with something a little tight as they will loosen over time.

Bindings

The next point of contact to the board. The first consideration here is the position of the bindings on the board. For normal and freestyle riding, you want a more centred stance, i.e. the nose and tail are the same length. This will enable you to ride regular and switch with ease and is the most versatile. When riding powder, most people prefer a set-back stance. By moving both bindings back by 1 inch or so, you are effectively lengthening your nose and shortening your tail. This will move the centre of mass towards the back of the board, raising your nose and helping the board to stay above the surface in deeper snow.

Stance Width

The distance between the centre of both bindings. Quite simply, the wider your stance, the more stable you will be, but the narrower your stance, the easier it will be to initiate a turn. Super steely park kids may give the impression that the wider the stance the cooler you look, but this is not the case. If you are at an intermediate level or above, you really wont need so much extra stability and it may slow your turn initiation. I am 5’8″ and I usually ride a 155cm board with a centred stance. I find the most successful stance width to be around 21.5″. Take a screwdriver with you up the mountain, or use the courtesy tools provided at lift stations in most resorts. Start with a stance that feels comfortable and wide and then every couple of runs, reduce it by 1/2 an inch or so. I guarantee that you will notice how much easier it is to start a turn with a narrower stance. Play around with it for a couple of hours until you find the sweet spot that suits you.

Binding Angle

Important to get right so you don’t put unnecessary strain on your calves and knees. Usually you will find that people with a centred stance will ride 15/-15, 12/-12 or 9/-9. Having your binding angles as a mirror of each other will help switch riding and will allow you to be more versatile. Although some people who don’t ride switch as often and just want to charge powder with a set back stance will be more comfortable with a slight angle on the front and less on the back, e.g. 15/-9. Finally, you need to consider the angle of your high-backs. Almost all bindings will have some way of adjusting the high-back angle. Freestyle riders prefer less to no angle, which will be more forgiving when sliding boxes and rails. Increasing the angle so that the high-back is pointing more into the back of your leg will give you more support when initiating a heel side turn. This can make a huge difference if you have never tried it.

It is important to make any changes to these settings one at a time. Decide on a centred or set back stance, then alter the width, then your angles. It will be well worth it and you won’t have to worry about finding the perfect settings for your board again. Now with the perfect snowboard setup you will be able to concentrate on improving your riding, safe in the knowledge that your setup isn’t holding you back! If you’re interested in reading more useful articles about winter sports or you want to book your next ski/snowboard trip, visit our website here.

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Winter Running Tips For Beginners

Winter has arrived. The leaves are falling and it is freezing cold to be out. People wear blue jeans, jackets and long sleeve tees. For most runners, this is a great time. However, new runners might find it frustrating to run in the cold. The number one question in their mind is “can I run in the cold as a new runner and deal with the elements?”

Worry no more, because we are here to help. Here are some winter running tips for beginners:

Do not worry about breaking records

First of all, you need not to worry about increasing mileage or pace during winter times because the cold and icy condition make it more prone for you to slip and injuring yourself. We would like to also advise you to do your warm up indoors. Try to avoid icy roads and go for the snow, which provide better traction and grib. Shorten your stride and run slower for the sake of keeping safe during very ice and wet days ahead.

Clothing

Not surprisingly, you must wear proper winter clothing if you want to run during the winter. Wear thick dry socks and use slightly larger running shoes to accommodate the space needed for these socks. It is essential to keep your feet warm during winter runs to prevent frostbite and vessel problems. Also wear a warm hat during your runs. A great amount of body heat vapors through the head during cold condition and this will affect the circulation in your body. Your hands must be covered in wool gloves and you must also wear thick running suits. For shorts, you can wear those made of polypropylene or Lycra and combine it with wool running trousers.

Avoid Wind-chill

You must be careful and avoid running into a wind-chill. This extreme cold can be bad and dangerous. Experienced runners like to run into the wind to start their run and then return to the starting line with the wind blowing at their backs. This will make your return run easier as your body has become warmer.

Skin and hydration

Use moisturizer and sun block to prevent blistering in your face. Despite of the fact that you are running in the cold, you still need to maintain sufficient hydration just like when you are running during the summer. Hydration is important to help your muscles recover after a run in the cold and icy condition. You can also try drinking energy drinks with high carbohydrate to maintain your immune system during winter runs. Fresh vegetables and vitamin C can also help your immune system during your runs in cold condition.

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How to Structure and Word Your Wedding Invitation

The wedding invitations are one of the most import stages of the preparations for the wedding day. They set the tone of the day and give your guests their first indication of the style and theme. They tell them when and where the wedding will be held and how formal it will be. For your guests the wedding invitations are the most important part in the lead up to your wedding. The importance of the wedding invitations or wedding stationery cannot be understated and getting the wedding stationery wording correct is crucial.

It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, confused, or even unsure about which traditions to follow when selecting the layout and wording of your wedding invitations. Traditional invitation wording and etiquette serves only as a guide or a starting point. Your wedding stationery should capture your individual characters and convey the tone in which you wish to express your wedding day. There is no right or wrong.

Typically, a wedding invitation is divided into four distinct sections, i.e. the hosts, the guests, the date, time and location of the ceremony and reception. This article examines each of the sections contained in a standard wedding invitation and offers some guidance to the reader.

1. The hosts of the wedding

The hosts of the wedding can be the bride’s parents, the bride and groom, or the parents of both the bride and groom. It was tradition that the brides parents hosted the wedding, however nowadays the majority of couples host the wedding themselves often with the assistance of both sets of parents. There are a variety of different wording options depending on who is hosting. The following suggestions are offered as guidance.

If the Bride and Groom are hosting the wedding themselves, one of the following wording options maybe considered:

The honour of your presence is request at the marriage of…

Anne Smith and John James request the honour of your presence at their marriage…

Anne Smith and John James together with their families/parents wish to invite you, to join them on the occasion of their marriage…

Together with their families/parents Anne Smith and John James request the honour of your presence on the occasion of their marriage…

In the case where the bride and groom’s parents are hosting the wedding:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

and

Mr. and Mrs. William James

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their children…

Finally if it is the bride’s parents that are hosting the wedding then the following maybe used:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter

Anne Smith to John James

It has always been the tradition that the bride’s name be mentioned first on the wedding invitation. This maybe explained by the fact that traditionally the bride’s parents paid for the wedding. It is not uncommon nowadays for the groom’s name to be mentioned first. Ultimately this is a personal choice and the decision of which name appears first resides with the bride and groom.

2. Addressing the guests – using their correct titles.

Addressing the wedding guests with their correct titles displays thought, consideration and respect. In today’s world a multitude of different titles exist which makes this task all the more difficult. The best course of action is to use common sense and be consistent, however it is not as simple as using Mr and Mrs on your wedding invitations. Some of your invitee’s may have different title’s. When addressing a husband and wife who share the same last name the norm is to use Mr and Mrs i.e. Mr and Mrs John Owens. Likewise if they don’t share the same last name, the norm is to address them as Mr John Owens and Mrs Sinead Flynn. If either of these guests is a Doctor then simply substitute Dr for Mr/Mrs. Separated or divorced couples should receive separate invitations and if they have a new partner, then the norm is to include this partners name. In the case of gay and lesbian couples the same rules apply but you should name the partners in alphabetical order. Finally, when inviting a single person who will be bringing a date it is appropriate to include “plus one” after their name.

3. Date, time and location

Traditionally on formal wedding invitations the numbers and time were spelled out e.g. “The fifteenth of April two thousand and fourteen at one thirty in the afternoon”. The design of your wedding theme will dictate whether the numbers in the date and time are spelled out or left in numeric form. With modern wedding invitations the latter is becoming the norm. The location of the wedding ceremony follows the date and can appear before the time. The reception location then follows. An example of typical date, time and location layouts could be:

St Oliver Plunket Church, Boora, Co. Offaly at 1:30 in the afternoon

Celebrations to follow at Dooley’s hotel Birr.

or

To be held at two thirty in the afternoon of Sunday the twelfth of January two thousand and fourteen at St. Finnian’s Church, Kinnitty, Co. Offaly

and afterwards at Kinnitty Castle for festive banquet and cheer

A typical wedding invitation is divided into the sections as outlined above, i.e. the hosts, the guests, date and time, and the locations of the ceremony and reception. It is also acceptable to include an RSVP contact number or email address on modern wedding invitations, or a separate RSVP card can be include as was traditional. If opting for the additional card ensure that the name of the guests and a stamp addressed envelope are included. An RSVP reply date of at least one month before the wedding should also be advised to your guests.

For your guests the wedding invitations are the most important part in the lead up to your wedding. The information they receive helps them decide on their outfits and allows them to make the necessary arrangements to attend. Many guests may have to travel a long distance and therefore it is appropriate to include directions and a list of accommodation. This is additional information which is not included on the wedding invitation but rather on a separate card included in the wedding stationery pack sent to the guests. The norm is to include a map and directions to both the venues for the ceremony and reception, and a list of accommodation including hotels and bed and breakfast providers.

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What Color Should You Wear To A Muslim Wedding?

A Muslim wedding is a day of complete celebration for the bride, groom, their family and friends. Thus, it is an occasion for one and all to celebrate. There is now written rule of what should be worn and what should not be worn to a Muslim wedding. A lot depends on which part of the world you live in, and the level of rigidity followed by the Muslims there.

In a Muslim wedding, it is the most important day for the bride and groom. If you are close to them and know what color they are wearing, avoiding those colors is a must. This will make the bride and groom standout and make their special day a little bit more special for them.

Muslims have a lot of life in their weddings. The weddings are calm and serene yet there is a lot of fun and frolic too. Wearing white is the tradition in some areas but white is also the funeral shade in some areas. So, if you are in a doubt avoid white. Black is considered as a funeral color in some parts like so check out the local customs, before deciding on the color. Any other color apart from this is sure to bring you to the same fun mood that they are in.

Bright green and pinks are a favorite in Muslim weddings. You have the liberty to make a style statement here. The only thing you must keep in mind is that the dress should be modest. Oranges and yellows, red and maroons or if you want to wear all rainbow colors, the choice is yours. The dress should cover you arms and feet. Any thing, which is flowy, is surely bound to make you feel comfortable there.

As a man, wearing a simple suit or a tux to a Muslim wedding is considered okay. You won’t be in the wrong dress, but if you want to merge with the crowd, you better ask someone in the family. They will be able to tell you what exactly their traditional dress is so that you can wear one. Wearing gold and black are pretty common with Muslim men. Black may cause you doubts but with gold you can be rest assured, you are sure to look one in the family. Wearing a Sherwani is another way to feel at home in the crowd.

Apart from the color, a must is to look after your accessories. Avoid taking something which is over the top. Wear your make up – a dark shade of lipstick will be preferable. Carry a small handbag or a purse. Wearing jewels on your forehead or temples will surely give you that Muslim feel.

If you have no one to help you, there are Muslim designers whom you can contact. They will be able to tell you about colors and you can find great Muslim wedding attires with them. No designers close by, just walk up to your computer and search online. You can find anything and everything you want on Muslim weddings.

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Seasonal Wedding Invitations – Wedding Stationery Ideas For Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall

Buy wedding stationery, especially, wedding invitations is a big part of planning your wedding. Some brides and grooms just go for basic wedding invitations, not really paying attention to the theme or colors. While others choose to match wedding colors, wedding themes as well as the season they are getting married in to their invitations.

If you are one of those people who want to match the wedding stationery to the time of year you are getting married in, keep on reading!

Spring Weddings

Spring weddings are popular. If you are getting married in the springtime you may want your invitations to reflect this by being cheerful and bright. If you are looking for some popular spring colors to design you invitations around you do not need to look any further than the pastels – pink, purple, yellow and green.

You can choose to use a nice pastel colored invitation and stop at that or you can continue to add other elements to make your stationery more spring like. What other elements can you add? You can highlight holidays that occur near your wedding such as St. Patrick’s Day or Easter and use clovers or Easter eggs on your invitations. Other popular designs would include spring flowers and butterflies.

Summer Weddings

The majority of weddings occur in the summer months. It is of course understandable why this is – the weather is beautiful, flowers are in bloom and summertime tends to be a lighter and happier time. If you are planning a summer wedding you can emphasize that with your wedding invitations. Beach wedding themes are especially popular because what screams summer more than the beach?

If you are creating summer invitations, beach themed or not, you may want the stationery adorned with flowers, sand, starfish, and seashells. If you are looking for a more whimsical look you can consider sand pails, sand castles and flip flops. The colors of summer invitations tend to be bright.

Fall Wedding Invitations

Autumn is a gorgeous time of the year to be married. If you are planning a wedding at this time it is a great idea to match the colors of your wedding to this glorious season. Hot colors for fall wedding invitations include deep yellows, reds and oranges. You can choose wedding invitations with these colors in mind – whether your invitation in that color itself or you just use photos and borders with those colors.

What will be on these invitations? Of course you can choose anything you want but some of the more popular fall wedding themes include pumpkins, changing leaves, trees, and in season flowers. If you do choose flowers it is a lovely idea to use those hot, bold colors of yellow, red and orange.

Winter Wedding Invitations

Where as it is certainly true that winter time weddings number in the least for all the seasons, they are still on the rise. Winter weddings can be truly beautiful with the snow and the festive colors of the season. If you are choosing wedding colors for winter weddings think of deep red, forest green and ice blue – those will work the best.

Finding things to decorate these invitations will not be a problem. We suggest snowflakes, ornaments, snow covered trees, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly. You can make your theme centered on Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day or just a winter wonderland.

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Wedding Planning Recommendations

Planning a wedding can get busy and messy, so there are quite a few recommendations I have for someone who may not be the most organized person to begin with. There are many different 12 month wedding planners and organizers out there, some made by The Knot, and some that you can even find at Walmart or any other stores. These planners can help you remember things you may not have been thinking about, or didn’t even know you had to do. They give you checklists, timelines, outlines, and different formats of how you should be writing out seating charts, lists, etc. With these planners, you can become one of the most organized people overnight! They are that simple and helpful!

Another recommendation I have is the service of an actual wedding planner. I am a wedding planner at a rental and wedding coordinating company, and I help brides do all sorts of things. I not only help them, I actually do most of the actual work. They will send me all of their contracts from their vendors, and I will organize them and put them into a specific folder for a later date when I begin creating the wedding timeline. These vendor contracts are just a small piece of the information I receive from brides.

The types of information I receive varies from what types of things we will be using to reserve seats, to the minute a bus will arrive. A wedding planner takes care of it all for you, and all you need to do is communicate back and forth with them. The perk is that you will be mostly stress-free, and can just gather all of the information from each vendor, and bring all of that jumbled information to the wedding planner, and they will sort through it and make sure it is all in an organized manner for that special day.

Once a wedding planner receives any sort of information about the day, they will begin to create a wedding timeline. A wedding timeline is a basic step by step of the day planned out to the minute. The wedding planners want to know any and all information the bride has for their special day so that they know how to assist, and where to assist at. Since they will be the point of contact throughout the entire day, they need to know when the florist will be arriving, what the photographer’s phone number is, what time the entertainer will begin to tear down at the end of the night, etc.

There are many perks to using the service of an actual wedding planner, but if you do not have the amount of money in your budget for one, the different types of wedding 12 month planners that are out there for you to purchase are a cheaper alternative if you want to plan your wedding completely on your own!

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Ice Skating – For Pleasure and Sport

The world of Ice Skating saw seven-year-old Sophie Kemp glide her way to stardom at the Planet Ice Skating Stars competition in the UK recently, one of the youngest participants to do so. Despite the fact that Sophie had only begun skating since April this year, her dogged determination saw her complete a three-jump and a spiral, two of the most difficult ice skating techniques, on her way to the top of the group that was open to ages 6-16. Her mother, Kate Kemp is proud of her daughter’s achievement, having been a former club skater herself, and overjoyed that Sophie is making lots of lovely new friends.

Ice skating and figure skating took the world by storm in the 1970s, 80s and 90s when many skaters, men and women, displayed intricate movements and graceful techniques of skating on ice. One name that shot to skating brilliance during that time is Tara Lipinski, who became the youngest ladies’ figure skater and the youngest athlete in any sporting discipline to win a gold medal. With titles of US National Champion and World Champion much before she turned 15, Lipinski won the Winter Olympic gold medal at Nagano, Japan in 1998. Unfortunately, her skating years didn’t last long as she quit the professional circuit in 2002 citing health reasons. However, her career as a figure skating analyst with NBC Sports took off and after nearly two decades away from the limelight, she plans to produce a skating show and hopes to bring figure skating to its former esteem.

As skating rinks around the world prepare to dive into the oncoming winter months, one of the most famous ice skating rinks in the world, the one at the iconic Rockefeller Centre in New York will celebrate its 80th anniversary this season. Opening for the winter season is scheduled in early October and already reservations for skating packages are underway. Skating enthusiasts are looking forward to making special memories of the season at the rink located at Fifth Avenue.

Skating is a popular sport that involves using skates to move on any surface including naturally occurring frozen water bodies such as lakes, ponds or rivers or artificially frozen tracks like parks, rinks and tracks which are mostly indoors.

According to a study by the Oxford University, Finland was where the earliest ice skating activity happened nearly 3000 years ago when flattened and sharpened bones were strapped to leather boots for people to glide on ice. The first ice skates were invented in the 13th century by the Dutch people. In the Nordic region, ice skating is a necessary skill besides a common sport for all classes of people.

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Broaden Your Horizons With Today’s TV Choice

Gone are the days when there were only one or two channels to choose from, these days the choice is astounding and viewers can find everything from real life drama to fantastical tales at a touch of a button. When TV first started making its way into people’s homes, choice was limited and couldn’t always cater to individual taste. Now that the technology behind TV broadcasting has advanced massively, it’s a whole different ball game.

In fact, now people who may have never had the chance to watch their favourite sports, can now enjoy them in HD from the comfort of their own home. Sporting events from all around the world are now televised, meaning people can do everything from supporting their local football teams to finding out about winter sports in remote locations or water games in sunnier climes.

There are also plenty of TV series and soap operas to choose from, ranging from tense medical dramas such as House to entertaining sitcoms like Scrubs. Those who aren’t fans of blood and guts might prefer to follow soaps such as Hollyoaks or Coronation Street for a UK flavour or Neighbours for an Australian setting. Joining these scripted shows are a whole plethora of reality TV offerings that allow people to find out how their contemporaries live and gain an insight into people they might never otherwise meet, but if you aren’t a people person, there are plenty of animal shows featuring exotic creatures to enjoy.

Once upon a time you might have had to wait a long time to see a movie. These days, there are entire channels devoted to films. This means that everything from classic musicals such as the Sound of Music or Singing in the Rain to brand new summer blockbusters such as the Spiderman or Transformers films can be found on the TV. What’s more, special seasons celebrating world cinema means that plenty of people get the chance to find out what films people in other countries love.

With so many different options out there, deciding what to watch can sometimes seem like a bit of a task – especially if there’s more than one person making the decision. Luckily, the number of programmes to choose from also means that you’re sure to be able to find something to satisfy everyone.

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Want To Buy A Used Kayak? Follow These Tips For Success

You’ve decided it’s time to buy a kayak, and the thought crossed your mind to buy a used kayak. Here are a few simple tips to follow if you want to buy a used kayak.

Every day people decide to get rid of perfectly good used kayaks for a variety of reasons. It could be divorce, relocation, upgrading to a better model, changing to a different sport, or it just doesn’t get used anymore – no matter what the reason for the sale, you can really get a great value for your money when you buy a used kayak.

Follow these tips to get your next deal on a used kayak:

1. Pay attention to how the kayak has been stored.

Proper storage can extend the life of a kayak. The best possible option is that the kayak has been stored inside a garage and kept out of the elements. If a kayak has been stored outside for an extended period of time, it requires further examination.

Check the seat for wear; sometimes the fabric on the seat can look fine until you touch it and it reveals that it is dry rotted.

Check the seals on the bulk heads. They can crack and dry up over time and exposure, and the bulk heads may no longer be water tight.

Make sure the boat doesn’t have any dips and bends in the hull from being stored without the weight being evenly distributed. While the roto-molded plastic does have a memory and can return to its original position, this may take some time and render the kayak difficult to use until it happens.

2. Look for signs of repair.

The most obvious repairs will be to the hull of the boat. Turn it over and look for any signs of patching or other repair work. A boat is only as good as its weakest repair, so if you see signs of repairs, you need to test the boat and make sure it is still water tight. If you find that the hull of the boat has been breached, it may still be worthy of a repair, but you want to take that into consideration when you make your purchase.

3. Sit in the boat. I don’t care how silly you feel, get in it. You will thank me later.

You need to make sure the seat is comfortable and adjustable. As you are sitting in the seat, picture yourself in that seat for 4 hours. Will it still be comfortable? Can it be adjusted to make it more comfortable? You want a seat you can spend all day in comfortably.

Now, see how your lower body fits in the boat. Does it feel tight and claustrophobic? Can you adjust the foot pedals so that they are in the right spot to provide the support you need? Again, make sure the fit is good enough to be comfortable all day. Trust me, you won’t use a kayak that is uncomfortable and causes you pain.

4. Pick it up. Yep. Pick it up.

Can you pick it up and load it by yourself? Try it and see if it is something you can manage on your own. If you don’t think you will ever be in a situation where you need to load it by yourself, then maybe this isn’t that big of a deal for you. However, it is good to know whether or not you could handle it alone before you make your purchase.

5. Educate yourself to get the best deal.

Research the make and model of the kayak you are going to look at before you go. It is important to know the length of the kayak too. Find out how much the kayak costs new. Also search the internet for used kayaks of that same make, model and length kayak for sale. See what the range of prices are for the used kayaks. Search the internet for reviews of that kayak. See what others who have owned that kayak say about its performance and durability. If you find that most of the reviews online indicate that people weren’t happy with that particular kayak, then this may be a clue as to why this kayak is for sale.

You can literally save hundreds, and possibly even a thousand dollars by buying a used kayak. In addition to buying used from individuals, you can also buy demo boats from kayak dealers. Demo boats have been gently used and possibly rented for short periods of time. Again, this gentle usage knocks several hundred dollars off the cost.

Another way to get a great deal on a used kayak is to buy a kayak from a rental or excursion company. They will sell their kayaks after a set amount of usage and they replace them with new kayaks. Most of the time, these kayaks have been well maintained and are a good investment.

If you just have to have a new kayak and be the first one to put any dings in it, then I have one other tip to help you get a great deal. Many dealers that sell kayaks in the summer, also sell skis and winter sports gear during the winter. Before they change over their store from one season to the next, you should be able to get a great deal on the model year that has just closed out. It is easier for them to sell it at a reduced price than to store it over the winter, and next year have a new kayak that is a year old to try and sell alongside the new models.

Buying a used kayak can be a fantastic way to get a great value for your money. Many used kayaks are barely used and you could buy it and save hundreds of dollars.

Whether you buy new or used, do your research and try to get the most you can for your money. You will love your new kayak! The water awaits!

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Success Lessons from the Winter Olympics: Visualization

Over the next few weeks, the Olympics will no doubt generate many headlines focusing on inspirational stories, unexpected successes, good/bad television ratings, and even scandals.

But here’s a fact you probably won’t hear much about: With each Olympics, countries throughout the world rely more heavily on sports psychology to help their athletes achieve success and win gold.

Canada, for example, is hoping to rebound from their disappointing 2002 effort by sending 12 psychologists with their team to the Olympics in Turin, instead of the seven they sent to Salt Lake. The U.S. took just two psychology experts to Lillehammer in 1994, and then attempted to achieve greater success by taking 11 to Salt Lake.

Why this increased reliance on sports psychology?

Simple. Sports psychology works.

Numerous studies have shown that the techniques of sports psychology significantly enhance success and performance. That’s particularly true in the Olympics, when the different between gold and silver is often hundredths of a second or fractions of a point. When physical performances are nearly equal, the mental edge determines winning and losing. Psychology becomes crucial to success.

Sports psychology features a number of proven techniques to enhance success and performance, but this article focuses on one in particular: Visualization.

Visualization goes by many names, including mental practice and covert rehearsal. It’s been a favorite tool of sports psychology experts for many years, but it has an even longer history as a technique for motivation, self-help, and self-improvement.

In the late 1800s, many popular self-help and self-improvement movements swept the country, including Christian Science and the “New Thought” movement. Some of these “schools” of self-improvement were overtly religious, while others took a more philosophical approach to the psychology of success. But they all shared a common belief in the importance of psychology as crucial to success. Specifically, they all taught that our beliefs literally shape our reality, and that visualizing the future *creates* the future. In a sense, they preached that psychology is destiny, and the path to self-help and self-improvement begins with visualizing what you truly want. Many of today’s motivational gurus borrow heavily from these century-old self-improvement movements.

In the 1920s, followers of Freudian psychology also preached the benefits of visualization, but for different reasons. They believed that visualizing the future influences the unconscious mind, and in turn, the psychological dynamics of the unconscious would push you toward what you visualized, without you even realizing it. Again, the fundamental philosophy of self-improvement at work is that psychology is destiny, and visualizing the future is crucial for motivation and success.

==> Why Visualization Really Works

Today, research in sports psychology has made it clear that visualization can enhance success and performance in sports. But parallel research in positive psychology has confirmed that visualization can enhance success in everyday life, making it a valuable tool for those interested in motivation, self-help, and self-improvement. But the reasons that visualization enhances the psychology of success are more practical and pragmatic than followers of Freudian psychology or popular self-help movements would have us believe. Here are the three main reasons that visualization enhances success and self-improvement:

1) Visualization enhances confidence

Research in the field of positive psychology shows that simply thinking about an event makes it seem more likely that it will actually happen. As you think about an event, you begin to construct mental scenarios of how it might occur, and even more importantly, how you might *make* it happen. The result is often greater confidence, and self-improvement occurs via a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” The psychological process is simple:

Visualization => Confidence ==> Action ==> Results ==> Success

2) Visualization boosts motivation

Visualization boosts motivation as well as confidence, making self-help and self-improvement more effective. As your dreams for the future seem more likely, you become more motivated to initiate and sustain action.

Setting goals is often a very rational, even “dry” element of one’s efforts for self-improvement. But visualizing your desired future is a very different psychological process, making abstract goals very tangible and concrete in your mind. This process engages your emotions as well as your thoughts, and generates an authentic excitement that motivates self-improvement.

Visualizing your future also makes you aware of the gap between where you are now, and where you want to be. The result is more motivation for self-improvement, as you strive to close the gap between your future ambitions and your current reality.

3) Visualizing is a form of practice

This is the most important reason that visualization enhances success, but the one most often overlooked in self-help and self-improvement books. Like any kind of practice, visualizing a behavior makes you more skilled and successful when it comes time to actually engage in that behavior. Moreover, visualized behaviors can be practiced more quickly, easily, and frequently than actual behavior – that’s part of why world-class athletes regularly complement their actual practice sessions with regimens of psychologically-focused visualized practice.

Visualization also used routinely in psychology and self-improvement because it is excellent for practicing behaviors that are too frightening, intimidating, or even dangerous to perform in person. For example…

Salespeople who fear rejection perform better and are more motivated if the visualize themselves facing, and bouncing back from, rejection

Psychotherapists routinely ask patients to visualize themselves facing their fears and anxieties as a way of easing them into actually confronting those fears

Recovering alcoholics can begin practicing their skills at resisting temptation by visualizing themselves facing, and resisting, tempting situations such as parties or restaurants

In each case, it is clear how visualization allows you to practice your success skills, making self-help and self-improvement more effective.

==> Visualization Tips for Maximum Performance

Of course, visualization needs to be a complement to actual practice, not a replacement. But done properly, it can make actual practice even more effective, and start fostering a psychological mindset of success. Done improperly, it can even hurt performance. To incorporate visualization into your self-improvement and motivational efforts most effectively, just keep these three principles in mind…

1. Correct visualization

Visualization only enhances success if you visualize the appropriate behavior. On the other hand, visualizing incorrect or ineffective behavior creates the wrong psychological mindset, hurting performance and minimizing success.

Sounds obvious, but this principle of the psychology of visualization is often violated, particularly by novice athletes. For example, someone who has just started playing basketball can certainly visualize themselves shooting f’ree throws, but because they haven’t had much coaching or training, they are likely to visualize the wrong things (e.g., not bending their knees, not following through). As a result, visualization has been shown to actually hamper the success of novice athletes. But many studies have shown that experienced athletes, who use proper form and technique, will benefit from visualization, because they are likely to visualize the right things.

The bottom line: If you are new to a sport or other endeavor, maximize your success by skipping visualization for now. Instead, your best path toward success and self-improvement is to focus on real practice, learning from skilled performers, taking lessons, getting training, etc.

2. Distributed visualization

Visualization increases success and self-improvement most effectively when visualization sessions are distributed over time, as opposed to being “bunched” into fewer, longer sessions. This is true for any kind of practice or preparation. For example, in preparing for a test, short bursts of studying distributed over time (e.g., one hour per night for four nights) leads to better results and more success than cramming (e.g., four hours in one night). The advice of “a little practice over many days” – commonly offered by self-help books – is definitely not self-help snake oil.

3. Precise visualization focused on the means, not the ends

Visualization must be precise, vivid and detailed to be an effective tool for enhanced motivation and success. Self-help and self-improvement books often encourage people to visualize broad ends, like “being richer” or “having less fear.” Although this can temporarily boost confidence and motivation, this is one case in which many popular self-help and self-improvement books often steer people in the wrong direction. Visualizing the “ends” – how your life would be if you accomplished your goals – is not the most effective approach because it doesn’t provide the many benefits of practice.

Instead, research in positive psychology shows that visualizing the “means” rather than the “ends” leads to more personal growth; documented benefits include reduced anxiety, more effective planning, and enhanced success. For example, don’t envision “having a great sales year.” Instead, a better strategy for success and self-improvement is envisioning yourself going to specific sales meetings, your actions in those meetings, the reactions of others, and how you will specifically overcome obstacles and persist in the face of rejection. Use all your senses – as you imagine the actions of others, consider how they might they might dress and the sounds of their voices. In short, self-improvement requires visualizing how you achieve self-improvement, rather than how it will feel to have accomplished your self-improvement goals.

When visualization was successfully used as a psychological tool with the 1976 U. S. Olympic ski team, for example, precision, detail and focusing on the “means” were crucial to the process. Skiers focused less on their eventual success of winning the gold medal, and instead visualized themselves careening through the entire course, experiencing each bump and turn in their minds. That team went on to have unexpectedly strong success, and precise visualization has been a standard psychological tool in the training of Olympic athletes ever since. You can use these same principles to enhance your own motivation, self-improvement, and success.

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