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Stop letting fear overwhelm you with "The Progression method"

We all know that feeling of rolling up to try a trick something inside of you doesn't let you try it or commit to it.

I’ve been skating 22 years now and when I'm pushing out of my comfort zone I can still get just as scared to try a trick as when I started skating. Fear is something we aren’t ever going to get rid of, but there are certain tools I’ve acquired over the years to help manage and not be overwhelmed by it.

In this video/article I’ll be talking about a tool called "the progression method", and how you can use it to overcome fear and do the tricks you know you can do.

Everyone faces fear

Skating is dangerous, we do crazy shit and risk our bodies. As a result, fear is always going to be there to a certain degree. We're never going to get rid of fear completely and it's actually beneficial on many levels as it stops you from doing things that you really aren't ready for.

All of the biggest pros in the game face fear, even skaters who seem like they don't - like Milton Martinez or Nyjah - but there are things we can do (and that these pros do) to not let fear control us and stop us from doing the tricks we know we can do.

Copenhagen open

So I was at Copenhagen open last week and one of the events was on this super long flat bar spot across a wide double set.

I've never really skated something like this but I looked at it and felt like I had to try it.

I could skate it but there was something scary about it. I don't know if it was because a part of it was sackable, or that 500+ people were watching, but there was something making me question myself.

On this trip I was on a mission to face my fears so I couldn’t back down. I went over to skate it and got a 50 50 (which was my only objective in the beginning), but after using the progression method successfully on this trick, something inside of me was like "you need to try another trick now!".

The progression method

So this method is all about breaking up the trick you're scared of into pieces, into manageable chunks you feel comfortable with trying.

Instead of going full on with the trick from the very beginning, you ask yourself "what is a piece of this trick I actually feel comfortable with trying?"

So with the second trick which was a crooked grind, I wasn't just going to straight away hold the crook all the way to the end, because to be honest, that terrified me!

Photo: @bbrasa

What I did instead was ask myself "what am I comfortable with trying?" Starting off it was literally just locking the truck a little bit without any intention of standing on top of it or grinding the whole way.

After a few rounds of this I gradually started holding it longer and longer until eventually I was comfortable with standing on top of it and trying to grind the whole thing every go.

Now trying to commit and hold it 100% first go would have been too much to overcome and to be honest, I don't know if I ever would have done it with that approach.

On the other hand, the progression method is a way for you to gradually break down your fear and teach yourself that "what I'm trying isn't as scary as I once thought. I can actually do this".

You're essentially taking mini steps that are proving to yourself you can do the trick. What you'll find is that once you're comfortable with one step and you've therefore given yourself enough evidence you can do that step, you'll start to unlock new steps that you feel comfortable with trying (e.g. holding the crook a little longer, and eventually standing on top of it). Eventually you'll fully believe you can do it and feel comfortable enough to start commiting.

You can also think about it as becoming familiar with what you're trying. We're more comfortable with the things we know, and by getting more familiar with pieces of the trick or the spot - a crack in the ground, the way we need to roll up, how fast we need to go, etc. - we can free up our attention to doing the trick and landing it.

The progression wave

What you'll notice with the progression method is that it goes in waves. It probably won't be a nice progressive step by step path all the way to landing the trick, especially if you take a heavy slam or you really mess up.

On the crook I took a weird fall where I almost ate shit, which put me off a lot and made me question whether I wanted to keep going.

But as I was on that battle to face fears, I got back up. It took a little bit of time to get used to the rail again but using the same progression method I worked my way back up and eventually landed it.

Progressing with online coaching

I recently used the same method with one of the skaters I do online coaching with to help him overcome fear around front boards.

He sent me a clip of him trying the trick and every time he was trying to get fully on top of it. The problem was he was scared of slipping out and landing on the rail so he would only put one foot on the board.

There was no question in my mind he could do the trick, so I made a video for him suggesting he first really tries to keep his weight leaning off the rail, so even if he did slip out he wouldn't land on top of it.

This allowed him to feel comfortable with putting his two feet on the board without the risk of falling on top.

After proving to himself he wasn't going to slip out and eat shit, he stated to feel more comfortable to get on top of it.

Then the nexy day, he sent me a clip of him landing front boards like an absolute boss, standing on top of them as if he'd been doing them for years.

The progression method allowed him to overcome the fear and chisel it away until he was able to fully go for it.

Click here if you want to learn more about coaching, and here for more content around overcoming fear in skateboarding.

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