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Race Day Routine

Race Day Routine

Race Day Routine (competition routine) is a step-by-step approach to competition that, if followed, ensures proper preparation and optimum athletic performance.  Developing a pre-competition routine is a must have tool to in your athletic career. You will also find that the approach and the focus carry over to other areas of your life such as school and tests.  It will help you find focus, be prepared and keep your nerves under control. Like all things in ski racing it evolves from the the chaos of snowballs and wrestling U8’s to get into line into the consistent and sometimes ritualistic routines of elite performers.

This race day routine can be altered to the ability, skill and maturity level of any athlete.  

Begin by working backwards from the moment that you step into the start house.


  • 10:00am  Racer Ready! Step into the start house with your mind and body in the most optimal conditions for the race.  Last minute review of the course and your plan to race it.

  • 5 minutes before: Collect your thoughts, take a few deep breathes. Begin the strip down and get into the skis.   Check your Goggles. (If you can’t see you can’t race). Hydrate

  • 5-20  Relax, Visualize the race and your performing. Hydrate   Find something to take your mind off of any anxieties or stress that can occur. The dreaded “what if’s” scenario.  This is important! Stay off of social media and video games before the competition.  These things are design to over stimulated the brain and are not productive for your mental and physical performance. Music and playlists are the exception to using your smart phones.  Literally tune out the other distractions.

Tip: Shiffrin uses word search games to get rid of the distractions   Article link

  • 10-30 minutes before the start:   Begin a physical warm-up. A warm-up should start out easy and gradually increase in intensity.  Hirscher uses stretch bands for his physical warm up.

  • 10-30 minutes take one warm up run. Slow down and focus on the process of what you are doing. Try the Best Turn Drill.   It is personal preference as to if you want a run on your race skis to check the tune, feeling or snow conditions.

  • 30-90 minutes:   Coarse inspection and Visualization. Use systems here. Learning to read a course is a skill that develops best with a plan and focus.   Visualize yourself running the course over and over.   

Tip: Image your favorite World Cupper smoking the course.  Then put yourself in his or her shoes.  If they can do it, then so can you!   Picture the perfect run built on perfect turns.  

  • 60-120 minutes: Get to the hill. Get you bib. Start list.   Stay warm and lose.

  • 2 ½- 3 1/2 hrs before:  Get up and get some nutrition in your system.  You are going to put a lot of energy out on the hill today.  Your body needs time to digest the food and put it to work.

  • Shiffrin will begin her competition routine at 5:30am

  • Sleep.  By now you know that your body and brain need 8 hours for optimal performance. So work back from your wake up time.  6 am is asleep by 10 pm

  • Day before is equipment preparation.  This is more than just tuning your skis. Make sure that your boots are dry and all of the hardware is tight. Check your goggles and exchange the lenses for the race day weather.  Because of travel or multi-event weekends this part of the routine must be flexible.


This is the basics of a Race Day Routine. You can use any or all parts of it but what  most important is that you write it down on paper.  It will evolve as your athletic career evolves so be open to adapting new things into your routine.


Tip: Watch what the best racers are doing at the start and pick up some to incorporate into your routine.   


Mental Preparation

Fis Video



When an athlete imagines performing a particular skill, his or her muscles fire in the same sequence they would if he were actually performing the skill. imagery may also function as a coding system in the brain, helping to facilitate the development of a plan or “mental blueprint”. Scientists have found that the brain cannot tell the difference between something that is imagined and an activity that is physically occurring (see Mirror Neurons). Athletes can harness the ability to fire the  neural circuits within the brain of a perfect run before they enter the start gate. Take the opportunity to run the course before you run the course.


“ I always visualize the run before I do it. By the time I get to the starting gate I’ve already run that race 100 times in my head, picturing how I’ll take the turns.” Lindsay Vonn


  • Mental Rehearsal – Focus on a time when you were performing optimally. Re-create that feeling as vividly as possible: the setting, the atmosphere, the sights, the sounds. Feel the energy, adrenaline, intensity, and positive emotions running through your mind and body.

  • Visualization before the race – review and plan the mindset you want to take with you into competition (confident, focused, poised, aggressive). Set a goal for each competition – imagine yourself being on a mission, use energizing cues to get the adrenaline and emotions flowing, think like a champion – nothing is going to stop you today. See and /feel yourself performing with confidence.

  • Mistake Free – Identify situations that cause you problems, visualize the appropriate responses ahead of time where you take control of the situation (e.g., controlling your emotions, addressing and overcoming mistakes, and so on.).

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