Mental Strength – How It Affects Your Riding & How To Improve It

Kelly Neesham asked us:

Could you do a lil somthin on mental strength and how important it is in snowboarding, how it effects how u ride, especially in freestyle and how to improve it. Tips and suggestions, Thank you xxx.

We definitely can write about that 🙂

Brain illustration

How important is mental strength?

In the terrain park, there’s a sentiment that’s often said in one form or another: “You get injured when you don’t fully commit to a trick.” I’ve heard this many, many times and the more I snowboard, the more I notice how true it is.

Mental strength affects everything. It affects how much you’ll fall, it affects how much you commit to a trick and it affects the speed at which you progress.

Why does it affect your riding?

Much of freestyle snowboarding is the ability to think yourself through the process of a trick and get your body to follow. It’s the ability to have confidence going into a trick and a clear mind while executing a trick. Ever notice how much more you crash when you’re not confident going into a freestyle trick? It’s because you’re letting that fear overcome your mental process.

Snowboarding is risky. You and I both know it. We send ourselves off large snow jumps on planks of wood. It’s natural to be scared and we all get scared sometimes. Heck, I remember hitting my first 70 foot jump. It took me 2 days of doing speed checks on the jump to work up the courage to do it. I was terrified.

How to improve your mental strength

Control the fear

What is it that separates the best snowboarders from the rest of the pack? It’s the ability to build up their mental thinking to shut out their fear and keep their head going through the process of each trick, even when they’re scared. They don’t the fear affect their thinking.

Instead of going into a trick thinking about crashing or what could go wrong, they’re shutting that out and just focusing on the technique. Sure they’re scared too. But they also believe that they can and will land whatever trick they’re attempting.

Getting past crashes

Ever crashed really hard or failed really hard at something? Yep, we all have. It’s bound to happen when you snowboard a lot. It’s how you react to this failure that makes you a stronger rider.

Don’t go out and think “Oh, what if I crash again.” Instead, think “Alright. What did I do wrong? What can I do right this time?” Work on the fix instead of concentrating on the failure.

Don’t let that previous crash get into your head and ruin your confidence. Sure you may have failed, but what can you learn from it? Figure out how to fix it and go back and do it again.

One of the biggest things for me coming back from tearing my ACL was facing my fear of crashing again. The best tip I can give is to focus on how you’ve prepared yourself. If you’ve put in the work and effort to improve and fix your past mistakes, don’t forget that. Remember that you’ve put in the hard work and it’s now time for it to pay off.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, it comes down to your attitude. Are you going to think about the crashes and worst case scenarios or are you going to think about solutions and how you can learn and figure out new techniques.

In one of my previous interviews with pro snowboarder Geoff Brown, he talked about learning the double cork. He’d be constantly crashing, thinking of a fix and trying it out again before failing horribly yet again. I remember seeing the weekly status updates on his Facebook where his body was broken and hurt.

Did he learn it in the end? You bet he did.

Remember, mental strength is built on your failures. It’s built from every crash and every obstacle that you had to overcome in order to get to where you are. Every injury and every failure is another opportunity to prove to yourself that you’re not going to let that stop you.

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