Proper Preparation Prevents Poor PWA Performance. Part 3

31 year old Austrian Pro Uli Hoelzl (AUT-123) sits in joint 4th place in the waves as the clock ticks down to the Aloha Classic. A former Pro Snowboarder, Uli has had the benefit of a previous professional sporting career to help her cope with the steep learning curves involved, and the level of dedication required to succeed at the highest level. Uli kindly gave us some insight into her methods for competition success on snow or mountains.


1. What you think about and do to focus, relax, or get amped-up before a race or heat?

Right before a heat I try to visualize the heat exactly and the moves I wish to do. Then especially I like to raise my level of energy by feeling connected to the nature, by listening to powerful music, singing (Just hoping nobody hears me!) and warming up with some jumps and coordination exercises. The most important for me is then to free my mind and just sail detached from my feelings...on the water I do not have to think anymore… although sometimes I cannot achieve that state of mind.

2. What are your techniques, your mental reminders and thought processes?

Generally I do some Autgene get in a relaxed state of mind and to imagine all the moves by using:

Mental reminders: I always try to find “key-words” to remind me about the most important technical parts of a move on the water.

Thought processes: Be positive! (That sounds the easiest but it is the most difficult one!) If you're honest to yourself and listen deep inside you can see the weak points...that’s good way to get to know yourself better!)

3. Who taught you or influenced you in your thinking, how did that start and has system worked for you?

Previously I used some books to influence my thinking. Also during my professional snowboard-career I had a trainer to help me out to achieve good results. (1993-2000, European champion in Halfpipe, 13th Olympic Winter Games Nagano 1998)

Then afterwards just lot of experience by entering a lot of competitions...

But, no matter if you read books, have a trainer, or do courses in mental training, I think in the end everybody has to find the most suitable way for themselves.

I’m still trying to get better at this type of preparation, and to determine the perfect method for me

4. Did you have difficulty before you used a system to prepare, and has it made your performance better?

Generally I have to say that I’m not a bad competitor. Most of the time I can do the things I do when free sailing also in competitions… and, to be nervous is good for me at a certain stage. Of course sometimes I haven’t “allowed” myself to reach a certain high level, because mentally I was not ready yet to see how good I could be.

I also had a bad knee injury, which took me three years to recover from, and the fear of getting hurt again was one of my biggest problems. But now I’ve nearly got over it totally, and that’s liberating me to progress to new levels, so yes!

© PWA / Brian McDowell