Fear in Parkour- A Practical Guide

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APK Member Travis Noble submitted this great article on fear 

Original article can be found here 

Fear is the most often encountered mental obstacle in parkour. Fear can come from many sources and take many forms, but I’ve found the most common source of the most intense fear and anxiety to be attempting new, big, or for whatever reason scary movements….

 

There are two techniques I find most useful when in these situations, one mental and one physical.

The mental technique is visualization. Visualization, also termed mental imagery or mental rehearsal, harnesses the power of the mind-body connection. When you visualize yourself performing the desired technique well, and it is important that you actually “see” this in your mind as opposed to just thinking about it, the body responds similarly to if you were actually doing the movement. You should try to imagine the desired movement in as much detail as possible. What does the surface feel like? What sounds are there? What do you see? What will it feel like when you’ve accomplished it? In addition to the physical reactions to visualization, it will also aid in feeling more comfortable during the movement, as if you have been there before, which will help prevent mid-air freak-outs and bailing.

The physical method I’ve employed to great success is breaking down the movement into smaller and more manageable chunks. Breaking down a compound movement (i.e. kong-to-precision) is fairly easy assuming you are proficient in both/all the movements that comprise it. In the above example you would try to vault to the side or just undershoot your target, then work the other half by jumping from the object you plan to vault and landing where you plan to land.

It becomes more of an art when you try to break down more “singular” movements; you may have to get creative with the obstacles and with finding ways to build up to a movement.

When you are ready to conquer a fear and take the plunge of performing a scary movement, you must commit one hundred percent. If you find your body stopping you in your tracks just before the moment of “takeoff’ or otherwise preventing you from going forward in your overcoming of the fearful movement, take that as a sign that you are not yet ready and come back another day. It’s amazing the things you will find less frightening when coming back later even if you have not been training the movement directly; becoming more comfortable controlling your own body will make everything more comfortable.

So, when you are finally ready and have practiced the broken down movement many times, take a few deep breaths, visualize, and commit. You will succeed.