We all have fears, regardless of what we say or would like to believe. Even the best extreme sports’ athletes in the world have their own fears – but they continue to push forward and not allow their fear to control them.
Somehow, athletes in sports like motocross, surfing, BMX and more not only don’t submit to their fears, but they excel at death-defying activities, where with just a split second wrong move will sentence them to a painful end.
How do you move forward and not allow that innermost fear to control you, when you are thousands of feet above the ground while highlining? Or about to fall to the earth from a plane on a skydiving adventure, or riding a massive, unforgiving wave, where being a little off balance or freezing up for a second could mean death?
There are risks with everything, they say. But with extreme sports, there’s no denying that you’re going right up to death’s door and challenging him to a duel.
So when those moments of paralyzing fear come, what can you do to move past them?
Here at GOWFO, we love to not only explore extreme sports, but really dig into the motivations, fears, mindset and everything else that athletes face while training and completing for the glory. There’s more to it than highlight reels, awards, fame and fortune. How can you push past those fears, just like the stars of the extreme sports world?
If you are in a state of fear or anxiety, you most likely can’ think straight or make rational decisions. The first step is to step back and calm down. Try taking a 15-minute walk – there is a reason why they say “walk it out” when in anger or in an anxious state. Do something for a few minutes that brings you joy so that you are in a better state when returning to practicing your chosen sport.
There’s no instant remedy for moving past your fear – it most likely will time some time and effort on your part. If your heart is beating fast, you’re having a hard time catching your breath, fighting that will not help you. Sit down, feel the panic, and don’t try to distract yourself. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach while practicing deep breathing – slow and deep. Keep doing this until you feel the panic subside. The point of this is to help get your mind to get used to the idea of dealing with the panic positively, which will in turn take the fear away.
Now, it’s Time to Face Your Fear
We’ve given you the basic steps to overcome panic, and now it’s time to face your fears. You should get back to your sport as soon as possible – the next day. Otherwise, you’ll truly never get over them. What ever it is – fear of injury, fear of death, or fear of failure, overcoming them will make you a stronger person.
What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
When thinking of the worst that came happens in extreme sports, it’s not too hard to imagine the worst – in the most case, it’s death.
For the most part, this will be the deciding factor if you become an extreme sports’ athlete, or not. This is the deciding factor that separates people who want to do something, and people that do. Which leads up to our next point.
So, you want to do something extreme – like pick skydiving, for an example. It will help you realize what the risks are, and will challenge those fearful thoughts.
In our skydiving example, there were 3.3 million total skydives recorded in 2019 by the USPA. Out of those 3.3 million, 15 resulted in a fatality. Which means, the skydiving death rate is 1 in 220,301. If you factor in tandem skydiving (skydiving with another person, usually more experienced) the number climbs to 1 in 500,000 jumps. So, it’s safe to say that your chances of dying are quite slim.
Sports like skydiving are often hailed as a death defying experience, and while they are dangerous, dying from skydiving does not happen nearly as often as you might think. Seeing reports and statistics like that can help you realize that the reality is quite different from your fears portray it as, and you can rationalize them when you educate yourself.
So What’s Next?
Perfection is not the Answer
Let’s face it, there are tons of stresses in our day-to-day lives. Trying to be perfect, and trying to practice perfectly – it’ll only be a hinder to your success. Sure, it’s important to strive for perfection, but it can be a double-edged sword. You need to realize that perfection is the goal, but consistency is key.
Bringing it Back to Basics
Another way that people cope with fear, anxiety, and stress is with alcohol or drugs. This may feel like a way that you can make yourself feel better quickly, but is a sure fire way to only make matter much, much worse. Good sleeping, eating and mental habits are the best way to help you. Even seeking out a mental coach or therapist could be what you need to get back on track.
Go Easy on Yourself
Here we are at the last step! At the end of the day, you need to be your own best friend and biggest support. After each workout, each practice, do something you really enjoy as a reward. Your brain will start recognizing that practicing/exercising, reinforce your success by doing something you love.
There are just a few tips and tricks that might seem too simple, but after trying them yourself the next time you need to face your fears, you might just find them to be exactly what you need. You’ve got too much to go after, too many experiences waiting for you, too many WIDE OPEN adventures to stop now!
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