2. Look Where You Want to Go
The key to choosing the best line? Scanning the trail ahead. “It’s easier said than done,” says Lena Larsson, Dirt Series coach and downhill/all-mountain rider. “Even experienced riders find themselves sometimes losing focus, freezing in the moment, and not looking ahead,” she says. This is extra important when turning or trying to avoid a dangerous section of the trail. “Luckily, if we let our bodies do what they really want to do, which is follow our heads and follow our gaze, then we’re set up quite right,” adds Shadley.
When it comes to life, there’s no use focusing on where you don’t want to be, whether it be with your weight, your career, or your relationships. Instead, set your sights on where you want to get to and aim there, especially mentally. Several studies have shown that visualization can lead to success, and a survey of 235 Canadian Olympic athletes preparing for the Games found that 99 percent of them were using imagery, which could mean mentally practicing a routine or imagining yourself crossing the finish line. Looking forward toward your goals and envisioning success helps you accomplish them much faster than if you waste time looking back.
3. Don’t Try to Do It All At Once
At camp, you’ll learn an arsenal of skills in a very short period of time. It’s easy to overthink everything and get bogged down with information. But on a mountain bike, overthinking things can be detrimental because, oftentimes, you don’t have enough time to mull everything over—you want it to become instinctual and just allow your body to react. “Figure out the most important thing for you for now and put your energy into it until it happens more naturally. Then move on to something else,” advises Shadley.
In life too, it’s easy to get caught up in the big picture. But just like you should take it one skill at a time on your bike, you should try to take it one step at a time in life, especially during times of change or adversity. Studies—like this one published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes—have shown that multitasking is less productive than focusing on one task. So rather than getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once, break down what needs to happen, zero in on one thing at a time, and take small steps toward the big goal. (In fact, science has proven that Too Much Mutltitasking May Ruin Your Speed and Endurance.)