Vincent Soubiron

Breaking Habits: Let’s Change!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re stuck at ball number one or two, pushing yourself to the max speed or rope length, but still unable to improve? Despite your efforts, your training doesn’t seem to make a difference, and while coaches and friends offer advice that may work for a few tries, you find yourself falling back into old habits. Don’t worry, you are not alone, this struggle is common, and all of us have experienced it.

Making changes is a difficult process that cannot be achieved overnight. It involves creating something new and requires both acceptance and a genuine desire to change. When embarking on a journey to change, it’s essential to find meaning in the process. This may involve stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to trying new things. Unfortunately, many people struggle with self-denial and believe that they can improve without changing their skills or abilities, leading to a significant contradiction.

Compared to team sports, individual sports tend to emphasize the desire for maximal results in a short amount of time. This mindset can lead athletes to prioritize immediate performance gains, potentially overlooking the importance of setting realistic goals that align with their available time and effort. It’s crucial to remember that achieving success in individual sports requires a balance of patience, dedication, and strategic planning.

Well bad news guys, the reality is that acquiring a new skill, ability, or breaking a habit is a gradual process that demands a considerable amount of time and effort. Research indicates that learning is more manageable during our younger years. This is because a child’s brain has numerous unexplored areas, which makes it more receptive to new information. The earlier we learn something, the more likely our brains will absorb and integrate it.

Therefore, it’s essential to learn the correct way from the outset. Given this, one might ask: Why do the best teachers concentrate on graduate school students, and top coaches train teenagers or young adults? The most proficient instructors should oversee early education, while the best coaches should start training children from a very young age. This approach could save individuals considerable time and money in the long run.

Now, despite the challenges of learning new skills or changing habits, there is a silver lining: recent scientific research acknowledges that neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons, continues throughout our lifetime. When these new neurons are used effectively and survive, neuroplasticity, the creation of new connections, can occur. This implies that we have the capacity to break old habits and form new ones regardless of age. However, it’s worth noting that even though it’s possible to make conscious and neurological changes, a recent publication revealed that up to 40% of our daily activities are habitual rather than conscious decisions.


To explain how our brains work, let’s use an example. When we do something out of habit, the information flows easily through our brains, like driving on a clear highway. But when we try to change a visual element in our skiing technique or improve our balance, we introduce a new and unfamiliar concept to our brains. We have to consciously decide to adjust our eye movements or shift our weight, and this takes cognitive effort to override our habits. Since this action is not habitual, the neural pathway is slow and uses a lot of energy. It’s like a small back road for information to travel. Depending on how often we repeat the new action, the connection can either become a clear highway or disappear due to the principle of competitive plasticity: « use it or lose it. » Practicing the new action strengthens the connection and can override the old, familiar one.


You want to stabilize your new connection that enables your new move? 

  • Make a conscious mental decision and a cognitive effort 
  • Repeat it over and over
  • Focus on the now, results will come later
  • Have a pair of eyes in the boat, most people realize old habits are back when it’s too late
  • Practice at long lines with a low energy cost, it helps focus on the process, not the results
  • Link your new habit to an intrinsic motivator 
  • Be disciplined so you can perform the task even when motivation falls short
  • At first, it might only work on only one buoy in the entire set, and it is totally okay
  • Self-imagery does help create neural pathways
  • Once the new pathway is formed, increase frequency in different conditions and increase intensity (shorten the line or speed up the boat)
  • Don’t give up on “bad days”



As you probably understood, patience is a key factor to the best and fastest success. 

If we are indeed able to create new habits and improve, do not forget that the old habits never completely disappear. They become dormant but can be triggered without notice and knock back at your door with a big smile saying:” hey dude I’m still here…”. Backwash, wind, fatigue, stress, competitions and many many different reasons can bring them back faster than a blink of an eye and, most of the time, unconsciously.

When it happens, and yes, it will happen in case you doubt it lol, welcome it, even embrace it! Play with it and use it as a tool. Don’t make a big deal about it, because if you do, it will only strengthen the neural connection that leads to that old habit, thus, back to square one. 


I hope this will help you understand your training better and avoid any frustrations that can occur when you are having troubles repeating what you are learning. 


For more info you can shoot me an email at or come and train with us.  

Have a great season


Sponsors: Connelly / Slines / Procalp / Chateau Lastours

Source : Waterski journal

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