Having “The Fear”

So have any of you ever had “the fear”? You know, when you want to try something but the fear of failure sets in and you bottle it? I’m assuming some of you have, so maybe you can relate to this… I should also mention that I’ve been meaning to post this since last January, but haven’t really gotten around to it.

Last season when we were in Morzine/Avoriaz, I was quite looking forward to hitting the kickers in Avoriaz’s Chapelle Park. In my opinion, the kicker line there isn’t big, not at all, but to me the kickers represent a useful size. For example, you will see decent riders spinning smooth 5s off them. If you can spin a smooth 5 that looks good, the kicker is useful. It’s the type of size that I’d like to be able to nail 1s and 3s (and maybe 5s) on – and I’d be happy if I didn’t/couldn’t hit anything bigger.

So, the first day we went to the park, I decided I’d try what I considered to be a safety trick, a backside 180. In my head the kicker looked a little whippy, so I thought a smooth, back 1 would keep me on my toes and stop me getting caught out by any whippy’ness. Make sense?

I put in an extra speed check, hit the knuckle and slammed. Not a disaster, but I hurt my knee a little and smashed my goggles. One of those bails where you hit the knuckle and bounce half of the way down the landing. I decided I needed to put one down before leaving, so borrowed a mate’s goggles, went back to the top and decided a straight air would suffice…

This time I had a little too much speed, or at least it felt that way as I was getting to the kicker. Unfortunately, this caused me to lean back (classic mistake), the weight went onto my back heel, and yes, combined with a little bit of whippy’ness, that sent me un-intentionally upside-down.

I won’t say it didn’t hurt, but to be fair, it wasn’t that bad. The biggest damage was to my confidence. I’ve hit kickers bigger than this in the past, with relative ease. I’ve sessioned similar or slightly smaller kickers, and been comfortable enough to progress to trying different tricks, variations on tricks. I came away from the second attempt thinking I sucked at snowboarding…

Everyone asked me: “why’d you try a barrel roll, what’s wrong with a straight air?” To which I replied, “that was supposed to be a straight air!” Not good. How did I mess it up so badly?

Before I go any further, I’ll show you what happened 🙂 Yes, lucky for those reading this, a friend video’d the attempt. It’s pretty funny, but, by adding some visuals to the words above, you can see how basic the mistake was, how dramatic the effect was, and hopefully why it knocked my confidence so much:

And so the fear set in. I really wanted to work with this kicker line. It’s totally within my capability, but I bottled it. I didn’t hit it again.

There were a few things that got in the way: we had some powder days (not complaining), I was enjoying riding in the Stash (not complaining) and I had the wsg review to deal with, which meant I needed to go to all the areas of the Portes Du Soleil (not complaining, but I’ll write about that soon). But the truth is, I bottled it, and made excuses to myself to not go back and try again.

I’ve had a couple of episodes in the past that have made me think “ooh, I messed that up and it hurt”, or, “that was kinda scary”. But nothing has stopped me in my tracks like this. Interesting. Normally when I come back from a snowboarding trip I’m thinking “gotta go bigger next time”. Now I’m thinking “can I manage to maintain where I was at before?”

Any of you ever had the fear?


  • Reply April 13, 2010


    Yes, have the fear.

    But fear too much will make things worse, so be brave to defeat the fear, and will make progress.

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Hey guys, thanks for the comments. So Adam, you worked out any techniques yet? Any suggestions? 🙂

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    Hey Gavin

    Good post – though the video didn’t work for me for some reason.

    There was an article in Whitelines (or another snowboard mag) recently about The Fear, but quite a tongue in cheek take on it.

    Am quite interested in the sports psychology angle, and looking into techniques for pushing yourself a bit harder whilst snowboarding to stop myself bottling it, or throwing in a counter-productive speed check here or there.

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Snow Equipment

    cool video


  • Reply April 13, 2010

    aalion | yellowsnow.be

    Ever since i shattered my wrist i avoid taking rails. Although i’ve taken some after but it never felt safe again. I don’t mind kickers 🙂

    As ivy said a part of progress (or if you like to call it going bigger) is overcoming your fear..

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    Nice back flip 😉 You bailed of course cuz you froze somewhere along the take off where it seemed like you washed out from your heelside edge. If you lost control of your edge when you were about to pop, plus you leaned back, then it was auto back flip.

    I have these certain moments of freeze myself. The way I get over them is to briefly analyze what I did wrong. Mostly for me it’s trying to go big when my legs are tired. Fatigue is a huge factor in trick failure. Secondly, I would normally visualize my trick from approaching the feature, the take off, the mid air control, then the landing. My success usually comes from preparation and smart self calibration.

    Now I’m no pro, but I have fun with kickers and rails. Just be really mindful of safety, know that your body is resilient, and take on the challenges at your level. Never go “too” big and visualize your mind, body, and soul during the entire tick.

    Hope this helps

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    One word: ouch!

    Oh yeah, and the vid works now ta! 🙂

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Try it now…

  • Reply April 13, 2010


    Vid’s not working for me either, mate. Says it’s marked as private. :/

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Hey Ride,

    thanks for the comments. Actually, that does help a lot, cheers! I’ll bear that in mind next time I’m shredding.


  • Reply April 13, 2010

    Gavin Hope

    Yeah it can be a crazy thing. I’m really bad at front boards – it’s kinda in my head mainly, but my technique could no doubt be better.

    But I’m confident doing a bs tailslide (I think it’s bs… the one where you’re going backwards like with a fs boardslide).

  • Reply April 13, 2010

    David Z

    I’m irrationally afraid of boardslides. Can’t explain it.

    And although I’ve landed 3s (front & back), I bailed hard on my first attempt at BS 540 last season and didn’t hit anything big after that (in my defense, I was trying to avoid getting hurt before we went to Tremblant in February…).

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