How To Deal With Fear & Risk In Snowboarding

Today’s reader question:

With all the injuries and fatal accidents with athletes in snowboarding, how do you deal with the high risk that comes from doing a sport like snowboarding? When you’re hitting a big jump how do you handle knowing the increased danger and risk that comes with what you’re about to do?

Well… snowboarding is dangerous. We hike into deep snow, hit icy jumps and slide on metal rails. When you compare it to sports like tennis or basketball, the risk we take on a daily basis is far higher, especially for those of us who enjoy the freestyle side of snowboarding.

So the real question is how do you deal with the increase risk and how do you stop it from becoming a fear that stops you from progressing and attempting new tricks?

It’s always in the back of your head

Well the truth is the danger is always there and every snowboarder is always aware of it. Avalanches happen. People break their backs and necks. Fatalities happen. It’s an unfortunate part of our sport and when we stand in front of a big jump or some other big obstacle, we’re always going to be aware of the increased risks we’re taking.

The key to dealing with that danger is acknowledging it and preparing to limit the danger without running away from it.

The fact is you can’t run away from danger in snowboarding. You’re going to be in danger every time you snowboard. If you don’t want any danger you better swap to table tennis because there’s no way to avoid danger if you intend to keep snowboarding, much less if you want to learn freestyle.

Respect the danger

It comes down to respecting the dangers of our sport. Do you go into the backcountry without proper avalanche training? No. You respect the fact that what you’re doing can be risky and you’re preparing and limiting the risk you take.

The same goes for hitting big jumps or trying new tricks. We don’t randomly hit a 70 foot jump before we’re ready. We build up to it by mastering jump technique on smaller jumps first.

Dealing with the dangers of snowboarding is not about ignoring it or avoiding it, but rather it’s about knowing it’s there, preparing for it, and knowing that you’ve done what you can to limit the risk.

At the end of the day when you want to take a bigger risk such as hitting a big park jump you need to ask yourself if you’ve taken the danger seriously and prepared appropriately.

Once you’ve prepared for the risk you can stand there ready and knowing that the risk is there, but that you’re ready to face it. At the end of the day facing those challenges and overcoming them is a big part of what makes snowboarding so fun.

We’re snowboarders and we don’t run from danger. We manage our danger and limit our risk while pushing ourselves in a sport we love.

- Jed

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Comments

  1. Can’t let the fear control you it all comes down to risks verse rewards. Because of snowboarding I’ve been air lifted, lost my spleen, blown part of my knee, have less than 80 percent mobility in certain joints, have arthritis, and a slew of other problems. Would I ever change that? Nope, I don’t regret those downfalls in my riding career because traveling the country, riding spots few have, making friends with different people, and clocking more days before Christmas than most will in their lifetime is just what I like to do.

    • Agreed. All the crummy injuries and surgeries I’ve had over the years sucked, but it came with so many amazing memories, experiences and friends that I wouldn’t change any of it either.

  2. Man I really like your site!
    Love how I progress this seson compared to the once before cause I decided to not let fear get in my way of improving. And since then I progressed to a level that I actually never though I’d reach haha

    Even I’m still not that good, I finally feel like a “real” snowboarder >.< cause now it just feels good to be on the slope and doesn't feel unnatural anymore. And I didn't even properly master the 360 by now.. But working on that ;)

    Have two friends – one drives since 10 years and the other one is just like always a step ahead of me. The first one is forcing my other friend by leading the way so I can go after the second one haha – and if I get scared I'm just like "f… that, I don't wanna be left behind and think I could have done it through the way the others did.. I just go for it and see if it works. If I fall I hurt myself pretty bad a couple of times already… First time on my board I pranked my wrist :S
    But as long as there are no serious things you can just shake it of quickly or do a little break if you need a moment and then stand up again and continue.. :D

    That's like the only way to really improve and have fun I think!

    • Awesome Sjna :)

      As far as progression goes, the trick is controlling how far you push yourself. You always want to push yourself a little from time to time, but the trick is finding that ‘sweet spot’ where you’re just barely outside your comfort zone, but not outside your ability level to the point that you’ll get hurt.

      I always say the trick to being a good snowboarder and seeing progress isn’t just about being fearless or always going for it, but rather it’s about taking calculated risks to progress.

      Keep up the good work!

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