Jussi was a professional Snowboarder for 8 years. Having dealt with the greatest fears, struggles and pressures of being a pro athlete he is now dedicating his life to helping committed action sports athletes master their mental game.
“I want more athletes to be able to get access to their full potential and not be cut short from their dreams because they were missing a crucial element to consistent progress.”
Now Jussi is gladly sharing some of his secrets on Urban Freeflow so you can master your mind and excel as Traceur and Freerunner.
Master Your Mind – Even Pro’s aren’t Fearless
I think it’s important that you are aware of the major misconception that fear is a bad thing and that it disappears once you get to a certain skill level.
Most athletes mistakenly think that pro’s have it easy. They think that pro’s aren’t afraid because they’ve passed through the threshold.
The truth is that even pro’s are afraid. And they have the confidence to admit it. They know progress takes effort and requires you to face your fears strategically and continuously.
Even pro’s aren’t perfect. They are always pushing themselves to the next level. Honing their skills. There’s always the next level.
New levels, new devils, new heights, new frights as the saying goes.
What separates a pro from an amateur is not just what they do differently but how they THINK DIFFERENTLY.
Your body will not move unless you give a command with your mind. And if you don’t have mental skills and mental techniques (just like you have surf techniques) to overcome the internal obstacles, you freeze and get stuck on the plateau.
Without mental strategies and learning how to harness your fear to your advantage, pushing through to the next level is pretty much impossible.
But when you learn how to master your mind and how to take advantage of fear, you’ll be able to consistently push yourself through your limitations and reach the freedom to consistently surf at your full potential.
WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF FEAR?
So why do we even have fear if it prevents us from making progress?
Fears job from an evolutionary perspective is to protect you from the ultimate game over.
When fear comes up it’s because it’s wanting to save you from getting injured physically, or mentally, or from dying.
Your brain is constantly searching for things that are potentially dangerous to your well being. That’s one of its primary purpose.
When you push your limits, try new tricks, maneuvers, bigger waves or perform in situations where you might hurt yourself, or get laughed at, fear is there to prevent that from happening.
Fear is like an internal home security system that alerts you to when he burglars that might harm you are trying to get through the window.
Check yourself so you don’t wreck yourself as they say.
FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT (OR FREEZE) RESPONSE
Fear in psychology is often referred as the “Fight-or-flight response”.
It is how you respond to stressful situations where you are at the edge of your comfort zone or beyond.
Fear was developed through evolution as an internal survival mechanism when we were still hunter gatherers in the wild fighting for our lives.
Fear is an emotion and as such more powerful than logical thinking. When fear takes over the rational thinking flies out of the window. Fear clouds your thinking and primes your body to act based on these three primal survival methods.
Three Responses to Fear
1. To Flee
Run away like hell and hope the source that scared you doesn’t catch you and have you as lunch.
In parkour and freerunning this is when you can’t make yourself do the trick or move and you decide to give it a go another day. Pro’s are extremely good at knowing when to quit and come back when they are ready for it.
2. To Freeze
To freeze in place and hope the predator isn’t hungry and disregards you or doesn’t notice you.
Freezing often happens either before you’re about to try a too advanced or dangerous move or in mid air. Mid air freezing is often a result of going for a move as an encouragement of your friends or because of overconfidence and then getting paralyzed when you face the reality. There are two solutions to this.
One is having a bail out plan, Plan B. Knowing what you’ll do when things go wrong. The other is using advanced visualization methods to prepare and prime your body and mind prior, to respond in a correct manner.
Always be aware of your skill level and risks involved before you go for moves that you feel nervous about or second guess.
To face your fear and fight it. But you better make sure that you are fighting in the same weight class or you’re bound to get eaten.
This is what pro’s are very skilled at. Knowing their skill level and when you are ready to push through the fear to the next level.
How do You know when Fear takes Control over Your Body?
If you don’t know when and how to strategically push through your fear and when to listen to it, it can take control of your mind and body and block you from never snowboarding or skiing at your 100%.
Physiological Progression Blocks
Fear can often negatively affect your performance. Here are the most common symptoms how fear can start to corrupt your ability to perform at your full potential.
- Increased heart rate and shallow breathing (less oxygen traveling to your brain and muscles)
- Shaking (wobbly knees and feeling weak)
- Flushing (Your face going red)
- Bladder relaxation (sudden need to pee that distracts you)
- Slowed digestion (butterflies in your stomach)
- Cold sweat
- Cluttered thinking
- Body stiffening up from mental tension
Underperforming is often caused by fear that leads to your body not functioning at its peak. The above physiological responses often sabotage your body from working at its optimal level.
You can decrease and erase these symptoms with specific mental techniques you’ll learn in this series of articles.
Mental Progression Blocks
These are the most common internal progression blocks. If you want to keep making consistent progress in surfing you need to learn mental techniques to overcome these mental obstacles.
- Fear of big jumps, kickers, rails, cliff drops etc.
- Fear of falling and getting seriously hurt (breaking your back, blowing your knees or hitting your head and getting a brain injury
- Fear of making mistakes, failing or getting laughed at in front of people you respect
- Fear of what others think and getting embarrassed in front of people
- Fear of the unknown (especially when trying out new tricks and pushing yourself to the next level)
These fears then lead to:
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Second guessing and not committing
- Freezing, paralyzing and choking up
- Overthinking and self doubt
- Underperforming and making mistakes that can lead to falling and getting badly hurt
We humans share the same fundamental psychology and everyone in every sport face these same mental obstacles.
Luckily for every mental obstacle there are mental techniques you can use to overcome them which you’ll learn more about next.
Inner Progression Amplifiers
In addition to using mental techniques to overcome internal blocks there are also mental techniques you can use to accelerate your improvement:
- Special visualization and Reanimation methods to learn new tricks and moves faster and safer
- Unique focusing methods to get rid of self sabotaging distractions
- Goal setting strategies to stay motivated and reach your dreams faster
- Methods to take advantage and speed up your learning by making more mistakes
- Advanced techniques to getting into the FlowZone as easy as snapping your fingers
- Confidence gainers that increase your ability to commit to tricks
- Controlling your emotions instead going from being ecstatic to depressed
The Way of a Pro Athlete
Have you ever wondered if there was a way to overcome fear, gain more confidence and how to perform 110% without second guessing holding you back?
When I started snowboarding I felt like I was always frustrated and stuck on the plateau, on the verge of giving up. It seemed like I was learning slower than my friends, I certainly had no talent what so ever and I was held back by these inner demons.
Thoughts of failing and hurting myself blocked me from making progress and doing the tricks and moves I should’ve been able to.
As an up and comer I was struggling with my confidence, afraid what others thought. I got often paralyzed by my fear of making mistakes and injured in front of the people I respected.
Because of nervousness and fear I fell embarrassingly in one of my first contests in front of my friends, family and idols. That’s when I decided I needed to learn how to master fear and overcome other self destructive mental patterns.
So I read all the books on mental game I could get my hands on but none of them understood what I was going through as an action sport athlete.
Mental Game for Tennis and such don’t deal with the situations snowboarders, surfers, traceurs and freerunners for example have to go through.
A lot of it felt like it was written by someone getting a Phd in Sport Psychology but never really experiencing the full spectrum of going from a talentless beginner to a pro.
After reading tons of different books, working with sport psychologist, interviewing other pro’s and using myself as the guinea pig I started to uncover some extremely powerful mental progression tricks.
Ultimately my biggest dreams came true and I learned all the tricks and maneuvers I’d always wanted to. I won a ton of contests, got respected first and last parts in big movies, received multiple magazine covers and got to travel around the world doing what I loved the most with my best friends. All the while getting paid by my sponsors.
I don’t say this to brag. I say this to show what’s possible when you improve not just your technique and physical fitness but the third hidden component which is your mental game.
The reason why it’s hidden is because you can’t see into their mind, take example and copy their way of thinking. And because it’s so unconscious that most pro’s can’t even explain HOW they think and the mental championship patterns they use to perform at a high level.
I feel so fortunate have had the opportunity to become a pro and having more control over my own mind that I’m passionate showing you how to get access to your full potential.
After having a long and successful career as a professional snowboarder I started sharing my methods with other world-class pro and amateurs action sport athletes from surfing to snowboarding.
I first worked just 1-on-1 with elite pro’s and committed amateurs around the world to train them how you can get the competitive advantage and accelerate your improvement by mastering your own mental game.
For long these methods have been hidden from the public because they are mostly unconscious. Even a pro can’t usually tell you what’s going on in their mind without asking them very specific questions that reveal what’s beneath the surface.
After 15 years of studying, applying in my own career and successfully teaching other athletes how to get access to their full potential I decided it was time to reveal it all to the athletes who most needed it.
I went on to write my first book “Pro Mental Game” to share the fundamental pro mindsets so you too can have the fighting chance to becoming the best you can be.
Since then I’ve been putting together the complete MG180X Mental Game System that teaches you step-by-step the pro secrets how to overcome different mental obstacles and accelerate your improvement and ability to consistently perform at your very best.
The Progressive Performance Triad for Accelerated Improvement
Most traceurs and freerunners get stuck on the plateau because they are trying to solve progression blocks with wrong techniques.
There are roughly three areas that are required for consistent progress and shortcutting frustrating plateaus.
I call this “The Progressive Performance Triad”.
1. Technique = Flipping, Vaulting and Precision Skills
This is your trick, move and maneuver library essentially. Your body awareness, environment reading ability and so on.
Even your ability to fall in a way that makes you less prone to injuries.
Most traceurs and freerunners start learning the technique of their sport first before getting into the two other areas of the progressive performance triad.
2. Physical Fitness & Nutrition = Physiological Strength
Freerunners and traceurs who are committed to progression usually sooner or later realize that by exercising at the gym, stretching and conditioning, for example will help them improve their technical skills faster.
Your flexibility, mobility, physical strength, stamina and explosiveness supports your ability to perform at your peak level and for longer periods of time. These in turn gain you the advantage to make faster improvement in your technical skills.
Not to forget that your muscles protect you from injuries like a layer of protective padding.
Also your nutrition plays a large role in improving your physical fitness and keeping up your energy levels to practice longer and at a higher level.
In addition proper nutrition helps your mental game so you don’t get tired and frustrated as easy and can focus better without getting distracted by negative self destructive thinking.
3. Headspace & Mental Game = Mental Technique & Strength
Most freerunners and traceurs don’t know that just like you can go to the gym and do specific exercises to gain physical strength the same goes to your headspace and mental game.
You can do simple and easy exercises to improve your confidence, focus and discipline.
And just like every trick, move and maneuver has its own recipe, a specific technique to it, so does the inner obstacles that sabotage your performance.
You use mental techniques to overcome internal obstacles.
Key to Taking Advantage of Fear
In order to go through plateaus faster, consistently perform at your best and learn new tricks, moves and maneuvers with greater speed and confidence you want to improve on all three areas of progressive performance.
Learning the techniques and improving them in each of these three dimensions will help you overcome the progression obstacles holding you back from becoming the best you can be.
Essentially when you get stuck it’s either lack of repetition or you’re trying to solve a problem with the wrong tool. It’s pretty frustrating trying to unscrew a bolt with a hammer.
Right tool for the right problem. First you need to pin point the problem and then get the right tool to solve it.
In the past 15 years during my career as a pro snowboarder and as high performance architect for pro and amateur action sport athletes I’ve discovered a missing link.
Most athletes make the mistake of only improving one or two areas of progressive performance triad.
As a result they get stuck and frustrated on a plateau.
Identify which of these three areas (Technique/Physique/Mental Game) is the one holding you back the most.
Using this simple strategy of identifying the bottle neck, the problem you need to solve will help you make consistent progress and shortcut plateaus.
You can simply do this by asking yourself these two questions:
1. What’s my biggest fear or worry at the moment in my technique, physique and mental game?
2. What’s my biggest frustration or challenge in my technique, physique and mental game?
Learn and apply the right technique to get unstuck, start making progress again.
Google is a magical tool. YouTube is full of free tutorials on any subject imaginable. If you are serious about learning them faster drop in on a local course or sign up for one online.
As you read through this series of articles in the coming weeks we’ll explore many of the mental techniques needed to solve the progression blocks discussed in this article.
Learning these techniques will help you overcome fears, gain more confidence, learn new tricks and moves faster and safer.
My goal for you is that you master your mind so you can gain the full freedom to actually do the things you dream about.
Whether that means going pro, doing tricks you see your idols doing or keep improving and consistently performing at your full potential.
I’m looking forward supporting you on your journey. The best way to do that is to leave your comments and question below, liking, sharing and actively participating in the conversation.
And let us know what technique You will use in Your training in the comments!