Innovating and expanding the Ski Focus package; the importance of mindset in skiing.

Preparing mentally is an ever growing important aspect of winter sport and Stuart Bernard of Ski Focus is using his personal experiences to help all involved in winter sport. From the racers, the parents, the coaches, the social skiers and many others, he is helping improve their way of life and, in turn, their performance. His personal experience and development combined with the Covid situation has meant that his business has metamorphosed and brought another string to his bow in terms of what he is now able to offer clients.

With skiing virtually locked down over the last year, keeping his ski instruction business going has been a challenge, but where one door closes another has opened. A combination of needing to keep his business going and drawing on personal experience Bernard has seen his company evolve in a really positive way.

From having started out in the ski teaching world at the age of 16, Bernard has worked across many areas of the teaching spectrum from the race market, to the holiday market and also training up prospective instructors both in the UK and at his winter base in Tignes.

Four years ago, in 2017, Bernard starting working on his own personal development after receiving a diagnosis of arthritis in his wrists. After being prescribed an immune suppressant to alleviate his symptoms he, with support from his GP, investigated alternative treatment options. This led him to examine his existing diet, exercise and general wellbeing and lifestyle choices.

It was whilst overhauling these areas that Bernard embraced meditation (after recommendation from an in-resort physio) as another way of trying to deal with long-term back pain. Slowly he started to introduce other changes and now has a morning routine that he does every day that includes “meditating, journaling, visualisation, some kind of exercise and I have maintained that whilst keeping some income coming in while also thinking laterally as the income from ski teaching dried up.”

“Going through the personal development process helped me,” he explained, and now sees himself as a much more proactive person. He is also now no longer prescribed the immune-suppressant as of autumn 2020.

Training his mind to focus on the positives rather than the negatives led him to start looking at what he was able to offer his clients whilst unable to temporarily teach skiing. He started holding weekly Zoom chats with his clients “just to keep in touch with them.” but wanted to be able to offer more.

From these initial chats on a Friday morning, the project started to gain traction and Bernard then developed online preparation courses for instructors entering, and going through, the BASI system, running over the course of a month in a group scenario.

The initiative to develop these courses came as a direct result of the work Bernard was doing on his mindset and he started to realise that “From what I have learned to help myself, I can help others. From the processes and routines that I have developed, I can help others.” This realisation was the catalyst to him launching his mindset coaching.

Initially, Bernard delivered a free seven day guided challenge “where people chose a number of challenges to do every single day, posting their achievements in a private group on Facebook each day.” Bernard saw the overall confidence and sense of achievement of the group increase as they supported and encouraged each other whenever anyone posted.

One of the group was injured at the time so physical challenges proved difficult, however the change in her mindset over the course of the week from ‘I can’t do anything because of my injury’ to investigating what she could do (tidying/organising the house, then short walks, then short bike rides) resulted in a huge mindset shift, a confidence rise and even doing a charity bike ride!

This programme has now evolved into a thirty- and sixty-day programme and the results have been impressive again.

Bernard also offers six month mentoring and mindset coaching programmes consisting of 1:1 sessions that explore the the many aspects of a person’s life that can impact on their rate of achievement and performance. This includes weekly calls to check on your progress and develop action plans, lessons on journalling, signposting to resources that may help your journey, and remote ski coaching and analysis if desired.

Where BASI courses explore the performance threads (technical, tactical, physical, phycological, equipment and environment), Bernard goes into personal development and mindset in a deeper way with his mindset coaching. “There are a lot of areas in your life that you cannot control,” he adds, “If you work on the things that you can control and work on before you get on the slopes, you are going to be better off when you get on the slopes,” he explained.

Bernard explains that reducing negativity and knowing when it could crop up, is something that would benefit people in all situations. In order to get the best out of themselves in negative or stressful situations, the negative thoughts and feelings needs to be overcome. Recognising the negativity when it arises enables you to manage it, and therefore managing how you react in any given situation. This is key to being able to enjoy things more, Bernard believes.

With racers, their parents and coaches all part of the racing equation, Bernard’s courses can help improve all three elements to contribute to getting better results. The area of mental preparation for racers is an area that the American team especially invest in.

On the 31st May, Bernard is running a course called Mindset 60. As the name suggests, the course will run for 60 days and is designed to help you create new habits and behaviours designed to support the development of key areas in your life. Areas explored will include, but not be limited to, career, relationships (personal and professional), intellect (this isn’t just about how “book smart” you are), physical (more than just how fast and far you can run), emotions (how aware and in control of them you are) and spirituality (not just about religion).

This course is perfect for anyone wanting to understand themselves, the decisions they make, and the barriers they may put in place that prevent them from achieving their goals, or making the changes they want to make. Skier or not, this course will bring you better understanding of yourself and help you find the focus you need to take that next step, whatever that may be for you.

Stuart Bernard can be reached through his website If you would like to know more about his courses, contact him through the website and mention you read this article on Racer Ready.

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