Friday, December 13, 2013

Are you afraid? Heck no! Not you!

Today I watched a great video of Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal recounting his feelings about ski racing in Beaver Creek after his injury the season before on the same course. It is a great video and you should watch it. Here’s the link.

In 2007 Svindal crashed badly during the first training run for the Birds of Prey downhill race in Beaver Creek. He suffered broken bones in his face and a six-inch laceration to his groin and abdominal area. He missed the rest of the 2008 World Cup season and came back in October 2008. His first two wins in his comeback were on the same course where he had his big crash and injuries, at Beaver Creek.

This is in itself makes a great story, but what really is cool for me is that in the video he discusses his fear of coming back to that course. Yes, a world-class athlete admits to having fear. Wow. Not just any world-class athlete, but a downhill skier, competing in a sport in which speeds of over 140 km/h are experienced almost every weekend. Sliding over ice at those speeds in in spandex with almost no protection if you fall.

These are the guys with no fear, the guys with the big balls. And here is one of the best, admitting to being scared.

Yes, fear is part of sport. It is normal.

There is no courage when there is no fear.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Do not lie to yourself and say that you have no fear.

Just compete like you have no fear.

I believe that you can learn to overcome fear in the weight room. I have not coached weightlifters or power lifters; so our “big” squats are relative. But squatting heavy weight can be scary.

We have a breakthrough machine in our weight room, the Intelligent Motion Lifter© which allows you to safely lower a heavy weight eccentrically, and do reps with this weight without eccentric hooks or two helpers to lift the weight back up. It can be frightening to have a bar on your back with more weight than you can normally squat and then to lower the bar with control.

I love watching an athlete get used to this device, and the effect that overcoming this fear can have on their lifting and even their sport performance.

But this post is not about the Lifter; I will post about it at a later date.

I simply want to say that fear is real and normal. I am not going to try to tell you how to deal with it, that can be a long difficult road for some. I am not going to presume that you can conquer your fear by following some magic strategy that I will give you in my blog.

All I want to say is that fear is part of sport - as you move out of your comfort zone, it can be frightening.

There may be as many different fears as there are athletes and coaches. But most if not all have them.

What is yours?

Don’t tell me, tell yourself.

And then deal with it.

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