Carson Storch in North of Nightfall
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5 tips for overcoming fear in action sports

Sports Performance Mentor Gary Grinham tells you how to overcome the fear of failure to get to the next level in your performance.
Written by Gary Grinham
3 min readPublished on
Is there a particular trick you're too scared to try? Or maybe there's a trail that looks too technical for you? Or a dirt jump that seems to tower above the rest, haunting your dreams at night? That is what we mere humans call fear.
But what exactly is fear? According to Performance Mentor Gary Grinham, who works with top tier extreme sports athletes, fear is just a label we were given for a distinct set of feelings, and when we attach a different label to the same feelings we get a different result. Read Gary's five tips for fighting fear.

1. Picture and accept the worst possible outcome

The most important thing that you must do is reconcile and accept the worst possible outcome. If you cannot, then you shouldn’t proceed. Once this is done, it will allow you to perform free and without worry. You will never perform your best if while you are competing you are thinking about getting hurt. You should be thinking and seeing the positive outcome at all times.
UCI Fort William - fotograf Lukáš Navrátil doprovází český bike team na světový pohár v MTB

2. Visualise a successful outcome

Communicate with your unconscious mind (UCM), as it is the job of your UCM to get you what you want. Visualise a successful conclusion, and your UCM will deliver. If you only imagine a negative outcome, then the UCM will become confused and think that this is the outcome that you want, because it is the one that you keep showing it. Always focus on what you want to happen, not what you don’t want to happen.
Kyle Strait going performs a no hander at Red Bull Rampage 2017.
Kyle Strait’s no hander drop

3. Bin the idea of failure

The most common reason for fear is the possibility of failure. Failure isn’t real, it doesn’t exist. Man, at some point, invented the concept of failure. When primitive man was trying to light his first fire, do you think he said “I keep failing” or did he say after the 100th attempt “I’m 100 steps closer to being warm”. Failure and success are two different ways of looking at the same thing. There is no such thing as failure, just information on how to improve.
Toyota WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala
Toyota WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala

4. Face your fears

Once you hold the belief that there is no such thing as failure, it’s just feedback. It’s time to sit down with a pen and paper and write down a list of your fears, and one by one face them. Again, once your mind expands, it cannot go back. You will also desensitise yourself to the concept and reality of fear.
Aaron Gwin riding during practice at the 2016 MTB World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy on September 9, 2016
All eyes on the prize for Aaron Gwin

5. Embrace the challenge and results will come

Embrace the physiological changes and enjoy them. Welcome them with open arms. Tell yourself that these are the feelings of a winner, these are the feelings that allow you to focus and maximise your potential by turning the thousands of hours of training into results. These are the feelings that you only get when it matters.
Brandon Semenuk wins his fifth Red Bull Joyride.
Semenuk steps back onto the top step