Skatemom Isabelle rocks the full-pipe in California.
One of our Skatemoms was injured this weekend. She was dropping in for the first time on a 7-foot transition and fell, fracturing her tailbone. She told us later, as she iced her sore bottom, that she felt stupid because she had freaked out at the last minute and closed her eyes on the way down.
What happened to our friend is completely normal. Humans simply aren’t programmed to calmly throw themselves off a vertical wall with a rolling plank underfoot. Skating at the edge of your comfort zone triggers primal instincts for basic physical survival. We get scared. And this has profound effects on the body. Our heart rate increases, and our brain releases adrenaline. Our breathing becomes rapid and shallow, or we forget to breathe entirely. We tense up.
Our natural defense mechanisms have served us well for millions of years, but they can make it dangerous to ride a skateboard. To skate well, we need to stay relaxed. To stay relaxed, we need to override our most basic instincts for survival. Here are some things we do to conquer our fears:
Use fear to your advantage.
Let your fear prompt you into affirmative action. Be scared enough to inspect your board and the park for hazards before taking a run. Be scared enough to use your helmet and all of your pads.
Talk about it.
Talking about your fear reduces anxiety. Every skater knows what it’s like to be afraid. And, in general, skaters are good at talking about their fear. Even the teen-aged ripper at your local park will admit that he gets scared sometimes if you ask him. Open up to another skater; tell her your scared. Seek her support and encouragement, and you’ll probably get it.
The way you breathe is key. When you feel your breathing start to change because you’re scared, make a conscious effort to keep it smooth and regular. Practice yoga, meditation, or self-hypnosis to help you control your breathing when you need to.
Stay focused and positive.
The more we prepare ahead of time, the more we can relax and enjoy the ride. Wait until you’re healthy to try new stuff so you won’t feel like you need to protect injuries. Visualize your entire run before you take it, and imagine yourself completing it successfully. Repeat portions of the run you already know well to develop muscle memory and ease nerves. Practice bailing out of a trick before you try it, so you’ll have a safe exit plan when you need it. Concentrate on staying relaxed while you skate. One of our Skatemoms likes to focus on keeping her wrists relaxed and loose while she skates. It seems that if they are tense and rigid, everything else is too.
How do you conquer your fear?