When to listen to your fear

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Did you know that there are times when listening to your fear is the exact time when you should do the complete opposite and push through your fear so you can level up?

And other times when you think you should push through you really should listen to your fear and back down to avoid getting injured.

Unfortunately 99% action sport athletes don’t know when to listen to their fear which causes them to lose their confidence, second guess, overthink and at worst, get seriously injured.

As you read through this article you’ll learn 3 simple methods when to listen to your fear and when not to.


Every single athletes at some point start second guessing their abilities, freeze or choke up and can’t make themselves to commit doing the trick, move or maneuver.

The reason for this is our body’s automatic response to potential danger.


Fear in psychology is often referred as the “Fight or flight (or freeze)” response.

Fear developed as an internal protection mechanism against potential danger over thousands of years when we were still hunter gatherers on the savannah trying to survive in the wild.

That’s when you needed to immediately recognize food (a deer for example) from potential danger (a lion or bear e.g.) and decide whether to fight, freeze and play dead or flight as in run away.

Fear is your internal alert system. Its job is to keep you safe.

Fear is there to get you focused on what’s important and to make sure you “Check yourself so you don’t wreck yourself.”

Now let’s look at this psychological “fight, freeze, flight response” in terms of traffic lights.


In order for you to keep improving and consistently perform at your best you need to understand when you should listen to fear and when to disregard it.

Most athletes think fear as the red stop light of traffic lights but there’s more to it.

It’s crucial that you understand how to interpret your fear in order to make consistent progress.

1. Freeze = Yellow light

As athletes when we face a situation that’s way beyond our current level of abilities we often choke up, get paralyzed or freeze.

This is a stress response of the (autonomic) sympathetic nervous system trying to protect you from potential danger:

“Stay still to avoid getting noticed by the source of your fear so you don’t end up as the main course for the wild beast.“

As an athlete you’ve faced this situation where you are unable to make yourself commit to doing the trick, move or maneuver. No matter what you do, you just can’t make yourself do it.

At this stage you got an important choice to make. To back down or to push through your fear? You’ll learn how to answer that later in this article.

2. Flight = Red Light

The second option your fear (fight or flight response) gives you is to back down. In ancient terms it meant:

“Run away like hell and hope the wild beast that scared you doesn’t catch you.”

For us athletes that often means giving up, feeling disappointed and angry at yourself.

But this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact it may be the best thing that happened to you.

You may just have saved yourself from getting seriously injured.

It’s crucial that you are always be aware of your skill level when you are performing at the edge of your abilities.

If the trick or stunt you are thinking about doing is way beyond your skill level, proudly turn it down and come back when your skills are up to par.

More about that in just a moment.

3. Fight = Green light

The third option you have is to:

“Fight the cause of fear and hopefully survive another day.”

When should you push through your fear then? There are a number of different ways to do that and know when it’s safe to do so which you’ll learn next.

Always make sure though that you are wrestling in the same weight class with your opponent (the obstacle) or you’re setting yourself up for failure. Which can lead to the hospital.

In action sports this means facing your fear and committing to do the trick, move or maneuver that tried to scare you away.

Knowing WHEN and HOW to fight is the key. Most of the time it comes down to knowing your skill level.


Next you’ll learn three of the most simple and must use MG180X techniques to overcome fear. That doesn’t mean these techniques will work for every single fear. These will serve as a strong foundation which you can build upon and you should always use all of the three techniques you’re about to learn.

Some of the athletes I work with report getting great results just by using one of these methods. For the best, fastest and safest results I always recommend to use all of these together.

You only get results when you actually use these techniques and not just read about them. To consistently perform at your peak level you need to turn these thought patterns as automated headspace habits.


A successful career as a pro athlete in action sports requires that you stay healthy and perform at your peak level.

If they get hurt it can easily mean getting the boot from the sponsor because you’re unable to do your job and get visibility for their brand.

That’s why pro’s are really good at risk reversal. Minimizing the risks involved.

Contrary to common belief pro’s don’t take big leaps of faith and try to learn how to fly on the way down. Instead they take minuscule progression steps consistently.

They don’t try to improve 50% in one day.

Just 1%.

The compound effect of tiny daily improvement over time is staggering.

Fear comes up when you are out of your comfort zone. When you are trying out more advance moves or maneuvers or when the obstacles, features or heights get bigger.

Gradually and consistently make your way to harder tricks, bigger obstacles and greater heights.

If you skip steps and try to take big leaps it’s given that fear comes up, slaps you in the face and paralyses you.

When you feel afraid, go back down in height and size of the obstacle and in a skill level of a trick.

Do not try new tricks, moves or maneuvers at a more advanced level until you are very comfortable and skilled at doing them in a safe environment where the consequences of a mistake are small.

When you take small progression steps, you don’t give the fear the chance to freeze you.

When ever you second guess, freeze or get paralyzed, ask yourself:

“Have I done something similar to this before? Is this what I am capable of doing right now or should I find in between progression steps with what I am currently capable of and what I was about to attempt?”

If it’s not at your skill level, you can confidently turn it down and find a way to improve your skills and your comfort at a lower level.

If it’s definitely at your skill level and you still feel afraid ask yourself “What is it here that I’m really afraid of?”

Often it can be the potential consequences of making a mistake and that’s when you ought to ask yourself “Is it worth the risk?”

Risks generally get smaller the higher your skill level is at that particular trick, move, maneuver or feature. Yet accidents do happen.

This may be very obvious advice to some of you and if it is I would honestly ask yourself if you’re actually using this strategy or just know how to use it but don’t.

WARNING: You are not always capable of doing what you ‘think you can’. You are often capable of doing what you’ve done before and maybe a bit more. Always compare yourself what you’ve been able to actually DO in the past.


“Plan for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Always have a Bail Out Plan. Plan B.

If something goes wrong in the take off, in the middle or in the landing of the trick, move or maneuver do you know and have you practiced in your mind a safe way to successfully bail out?

Unexpected things happen. If things don’t go as planned, how are you going to safely bail out?

What’s your “fire exit” strategy?

If you land come up short of the gap or overshoot a jump do you know how to fall in a way that helps you avoid getting injured?

Always have a bailout plan. Know how to fall as in having practiced it in a safe environment and be aware of the risks involved and if it’s even worth taking them.

You are the only one responsible for your own safety.

What I recommend you do is to objectively go through in your mind the potential failures that might happen and HOW you will safely make it out of those situations.


There is a saying “Where attention goes, energy grows and results show.”

If you get anxious, second guess, panic or get nervous just before you are about to do the trick, move or maneuver, you’re chances of getting hurt grow exponentially.

What this also shows is that your focus is very likely on failure. And with focus I mean your thoughts.

Thoughts such as “WHAT IF I fall, hit my head and get a concussion?” is fuel for the fears fire.

Your imagination gives the instructions that your body blatantly executes. Your imagination primes your body to act the way you thought.

If you focus on all the ways you might fail, you are giving that as a command for your body to follow.

Right now you might be asking “You just told me to have a plan B and know how to bail out, isn’t that telling my body to fail.” Essentially it is but there’s more to it.

The more you believe into your own thoughts the more energy they get and the more likely they are to happen. But if you objectively think of the ways you can safely bail out without any emotion attached to that thinking then you are not giving power to your thoughts to materialize.

By focusing on executing the trick successfully, running the perfect performance in your mind 5-20 times depending on the difficulty of the situation you will effectively prime your body to succeed. And you effectively erase second guessing and self-doubt.

This may not work the first time you try it. It’s a skill that you can develop by practising it.

What you are doing is reversing your focus from failure to success.

You are filling your mind with the perfect performance so there is no room in your head for thoughts of failure.

Prime your body to succeed by imagining all the ways HOW you will successfully pull of that gap jump, precision, big drop or jump for example.

Yet, again only do it by using progressive steps and making sure it’s at your skill level.

WARNING: That doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen. You are the only one responsible for your actions and the potential positive or negative consequences. Be smart, train safe and most of all have fun!


Now you know what to do and how to do it. Next comes the doing, right. Go out and use these techniques cause that’s the only way to get results.

Be smart, train safe and most of all have fun cause that’s what it’s all about, right!

And make sure to check in below and let me know once you’ve tried these techniques and any questions you have! Share this post so your friends can try it too!

Have fun, encourage others and be kind to yourself!


P.S. I recommend you read “7 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Confidence” next.

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