in other areas of their lives can be
transferred to skiing and riding, and
you can leverage these successes as you
coach a student.
From the coaching point of view, it’s
important to recognize that mastery
experiences have a powerful effect.
Whether it’s for your own goals or those
of your students, make it a priority to
set up a series of good experiences such
that each step can build on the previous
one. Remind students how their prior
experiences tie in to their present
challenge and do what you can to ensure
success rather than push too far and
encounter a failed experience.
While one’s own experiences are the
most powerful element in building self-efficacy, observing a peer succeed at a
task can strengthen beliefs in one’s own
abilities. You’ve no doubt experienced
this in a clinic when, say, at first you’re
not sure you can ride switch through the
bumps. After watching your friends do
it, however, your mental state shifts and
you realize it’s not so impossible after all.
A key aspect of this is that it’s the
success of a peer that builds self-efficacy.
When an examiner executes perfect
arcs across frozen corduroy, a common
response is “well, of course they can do
it,” and it almost lowers the efficacy of
the mere mortals in the group. You may
have this same effect on your students
when you demonstrate a silky smooth
open parallel to a group of persistent
So capitalize on the power of peers.
Set up situations for your students in
which they can build off each others’
successes or follow each other through
demanding terrain. For your own
skiing and riding—and that of your
colleagues—find a group of partners
that mutually push each other toward
goals and increased levels of skill.
Instructors can boost self-efficacy with
credible communication and specific
feedback to guide students through the
task or motivate them to make their best
effort. Note that your feedback should
include both verbal and non-verbal cues,
so make sure that your body language
and the words you choose are both on
the same page.
An essential point to remember is
that your encouragement will have the
most benefit when it is credible and
specific. For example, since we know
that mastery experiences are the most
powerful way to build self-efficacy, an
effective form of social persuasion
is to remind students that they have
been successful at similar tasks, and to
provide specific cues for the movements
they’ll need for that particular situation.
It’s also important to note that social
persuasion can work in either direction.
In fact, it’s easier to discourage someone
with negative comments than it is to
boost their self-efficacy with positive
feedback (Pajares 2002). So be especially
careful to not let a wayward comment
throw your students off track.
When you believe in yourself and your abilities, success is more likely.
Sandy Macys/Sugarbush Resort
When you reflect on your best runs, you
may find they are accompanied by a sense
of high energy and a positive mood.
That’s because a positive emotional
state can boost one’s self-efficacy, while
anxiety can undermine it (Bandura
1994). A certain level of emotional
stimulation creates an energizing feeling
that contributes to strong performances.
Instructors can help by trying to
avoid stressful situations and by lowering anxiety related to poor conditions.
You can do this by changing your
students’ focus away from the conditions
themselves and instead coach them on