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How to overcome fear & start committing to your tricks

Fear is an unavoidable part of skateboarding but so often it holds us back from trying or committing to tricks we know we can do.

Fear is probably the number 1 thing that holds skaters back, and although we’ll never get rid of it, there are things we can do to reduce it and increase our ability to skate how we want even when we're scared.

By the end of this video/article you'll have a load of tools to start working on fear in your own skating.

The kick-out loop of doom

Many of us know that straight up frustrating situation of being stuck in a loop of kicking your board away and not being able to commit. 

Trying countless attempts and then eventually, when the frustration builds up so much and you’re like “alright fuck it I’m just gunna stick it”, you fully go for it, but it doesn’t flip right and you have to kick out anyway.

Then you lose that commitment power and you’re back in the loop.

Based on speaking to 100s of skaters and doing polls on The Daily Push Instagram, fear to commit is one of the biggest things that holds skaters back. The problem is, that to really progress in skating, the ability to commit is a skill we need to have.

Lucky enough there are things we can do to increase the chance of us committing which is exactly what this article is about.

Now before we get into this I want to say that you’re never going to completely get rid of fear, ever. And even if you did, you’d probably die pretty fast coz you’d have nothing stopping you from skating off a 5 story building, sacking yourself for fun, or flanging yourself for the female readers.

So fear can obviously be useful, but as we all know, at times it can just be straight up annoying and inhibit our ability to stick tricks we know we can do.

Safety in the face of danger

So when you jump down gaps there’s obviously much more potential for something to go wrong - like maybe you flick wrong or don’t catch it right - things that, when there’s a gap involved, could lead to much more serious issues like getting inured that you’re less likely to face doing the same trick on flat.

This is why that last second reflex of kicking out almost seems out of your control, and due to deeply ingrained lizard brain systems that evolved over millions of years that value keeping you safe much more than your little Instagram clip, it largely is out of your control.

Now let’s say you’re skating El Toro, I’m sure the last thing you’d imagine you’d feel is safety, right?

But, you actually do need to feel safe enough to skate something massive like that, something that just seems straight up dangerous to most people.

The thing is though, danger is relative and just because one person perceives something as dangerous, doesn’t mean someone else will.

In fact, unless you’re an absolute fool who doesn’t feel fear, no one tries a trick down El Toro that they don’t have 1000% locked in.

People try tricks they know they can do, and it’s that knowing that generates a feeling of safety.

Even though it might seem out of control and dangerous to many people, for them it’s going to be actually pretty calculated and under control.

Have the trick locked in

So first off, to build that feeling of safety, control and confidence, you need to have the trick locked in, you need to fully understand it on flat before you try it down something.

Yeh, there are some tricks that people figure out easier down stuff, but even for those tricks, you aren’t gunna learn them down a 10 stair, you’d learn them off something small like a 2 stair and build your way up.

Once you truly have a trick dialled, you’ll feel much more ready to start taking it down progressively bigger gaps.

Now a huge part of committing down gaps is really teaching your mind and body which are the attempts to commit to, and which ones aren’t. You essentially need to learn which ones are safe and when you should commit, and teaching your brain to recognise what a potential land looks like.

You also need to figure out if you need to change the way you do the trick down stuff.

You’re essentially learning the skill of commitment.

But this is where people go wrong. Many people either try tricks down gaps before they have the trick fully locked in, or they try them down a set that’s too big, making committing just too hard and therefore not giving the brain the information it needs to know when it should commit.

What's worse is by doing this and not sticking the ones that you could land, you're not teaching your brain and body which attempts work, likely making committing in the future even harder.

So you need to be able to commit to the ones that work, so you can teach your body and mind what a potential land looks and feels like, and then obviously which ones you shouldn’t commit to.

If you’re stuck in that loop of kicking out, and you’re kicking out the good ones too, your brain probably doesn’t know the difference between a potential land or a potential slam.

So if what you’re skating is out of your comfort zone, that reptilian inside of you is going to choose safety and kick out.

The always commit theory

Ideally, you want to get to a point where you’re trying to commit to almost every single attempt. Not including the ones you do to figure out the spot.

Now, that doesn't mean actually stomping every attempt, you're kicking out the shit ones, and going for the ones that are going to work, because your brain and body, through experience and repetition, can recognise the pattern of a good flip and know that it’s a good one to commit to. 

If you watch the full Bachinsky El Toro clip below, you’ll see he’s pretty much going for every one, and kicking out the ones that obviously aren’t gunna work.

I’m not gunna lie, this isn’t something I can fully do yet, but I used to be the ultimate kick out master and I’m getting better at it with different tricks by trying them on progressively bigger stuff.

But the only way you can teach your brain this, is by trying a trick you want to learn down a gap small enough that you can actually commit to.

So the obvious is true - be progressive with the size of the gaps you skate, but also make sure you’re able to commit by choosing a trick you’ve got locked in, and a spot that's just on the edge of your comfort zone.

And don’t get me wrong, you’re going to eat shit, that’s just a part of skateboarding. But the potential for eating much more shit, or having a more serious injury will be much lower.

Get comfortable with discomfort

Now like I said, you’re never going to get rid of fear, and if you’re skating something that’s big for you or out of your comfort zone, you’re going to feel much more physiologically hyped.

(By "physiologically hyped" I mean amped up - for a more detailed breakdown of this concept check the "How to learn tricks faster" video/article here)

These feelings are going to be an unavoidable part of skating if you’re pushing yourself, so it’s going to be useful to learn how to tolerate these feelings and still skate when you’ve got these higher levels of stress and "hypeness" running through your body.

You essentially need to teach yourself the skill of maintaining focus, and staying relatively relaxed with higher levels of stress and hype going on.

If one of us skated El Toro we’d probably be freaking out in our heads, and yeh, Bachinsky would have been scared, hyped and with a lot of emotion running through him, but he wouldn’t have been excessively freaking out.

This is super important if you want to try tricks out of your comfort zone, and it’s also super useful for those times where you just need to force yourself to try one to get past that initial burst of fear.

So like we learned in the trick learning video/article, this isn’t going to be an ideal state to learn a trick in, this is more of a state to try something you’ve already got dialled.

Think of the people that skate in Street League, they’re physiologically hyped, no doubt, but they’re able to maintain focus to stick tricks they’ve got on lock. No one’s trying to learn a new trick in that environment.

Stress inoculation training

Some ways you can work on this are trying to increase your stress tolerance. You can do this by skating in situations that stress you, and use those hype regulation tools I went over in the trick learning video/article to practice staying calm.

Maybe you could skate on a busy road full of traffic, or set fire to your shoes for example.

Nah, I’m joking, don’t do that. But you might go skate a busy skatepark that usually you feel uncomfortable in and actively try and stay calm in those situations.

Just remember these aren’t going to be good situations to learn in, and this is going to be much harder to do in higher intensity situations you perceive as negative vs positive

You can also practice facing discomfort and the things that scare you in any area of life and doing your best to stay calm and present in them.

The simplest way of doing this most of us have access to is a cold shower, but anything that you personally find uncomfortable or scary can be used to increase your stress tolerance.

I personally think this kind of stuff is so useful and you’ll likely notice your tolerance to stress in all areas of life improve.

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