So now the National Series is over I’m sure allot of you are already well into your winter training, and with this post I hope to raise discussion over training yourself mentally, as it’s all well and good being the strongest and fastest on paper, but if your head goes once you’re on the gate all of your winter training will have been point less. So the article below was written by Ryan Rivera who rides BMX and had a bad fall and has since suffered from some type of Anxiety and lack of confidence since getting back to riding, this probably affects some people more than others but if you have ever had the same issue’s there are some good tips to help you get over it and be back to 100%. Take a read even if it doesn’t affect you as it’s quite an interesting arcticle.
When you hurt yourself on your bike, the first thing you want to do when you heal is get right back on. You wait weeks or months for your injuries to get better, and all the while you can’t help but think about how great it will be to hop back on the bike and get back to your tricks. But then you get on the bike, and things feel like they’ve changed. The bike doesn’t feel as comfortable as it used to, and when you ride it you can tell something feels off. It lost some of its appeal, and it doesn’t represent the freedom that it used to.
What you’re experiencing is pretty common. You may be suffering from anxiety – anxiety triggered by getting back on your bike. After bad falls, lots of riders think they’re ready to hop back on, only to realize that they have this anxiety that holds them back. The anxiety may be caused by any number of different reasons including, but not limited to:
• Fear of Getting Injured Again
Injuries are painful, no matter how much you try to tough it out. Even if you feel as though you’re not worried about injury, your instincts may be trying to protect you from getting hurt again, and that can lead to anxiety whenever you’re on the bike. Injuries are powerful things that can change not only the behaviors you control, but also subconscious behaviors as well.
• Concern Over Ability
Many BMXers find that a lot of their confidence is shattered after a fall, especially their first bad fall. Before that first bad fall it’s easy to feel as though you’re invincible, because you’re able to do these amazing tricks and ride almost anything, all without anything more than a scratch. After a big injury, that idea of invincibility is shattered, and the confidence you had may have gone with it.
Some advanced riders also worry that even after recovery they may not get their full abilities back. Some of these injuries can cause serious long term issues, and while most will heal, there may be anxiety over how much the healing process will affect your abilities.
• Personal Humiliation
Depending on how and where you’re fall took place, you may also experience a type of social anxiety that comes from feeling upset over how the fall is viewed by others. While it’s unlikely anyone that you spend time with will think any less of you for your injury, these types of falls often trigger a feeling of self-consciousness that can make it harder for you to enjoy the game and pay close attention to your tricks. It’s common for BMXers to get inside their own head, making them worry about what others are doing when they watch you play.
Fixing Your Anxiety
Injuries take a toll, and you can’t expect to feel better instantly. But you can reduce your anxiety while biking and regain your comfort again, and to do this, you need to start biking. It sounds like a trick, but once you’re feeling up to it you really need to get on the BMX and start biking again. Don’t worry about going to the skatepark and doing tricks just yet. Just start biking around your neighborhood and get used to riding again in a way that you can’t fall. Again, anxiety is often caused by feeling as though you and the bike are not in sync anymore. When you ride around for a long time, the bike starts to become an extension of yourself, and you regain some of that comfort you lost.
Do this for a long time – long before you start doing any tricks. Once you know you’re back to your comfort level on the bike, put on safety gear (so you don’t get hurt – find a secret area if you feel embarrassed) and try to do a few of the easy tricks. If you fall, don’t worry about it, because you’ve got the gear on. Don’t try anything too risky yet. You don’t want to have a bad accident again, otherwise you may set yourself back.
Once you’re able to do the easy tricks comfortably, you may want to get comfortable with falling. This can be a little dangerous so make sure you’re careful, with safety gear and a mat to fall on. You’ve probably fallen hundreds of times before the accident without an injury and felt fine, but the injury can cause you to fear falling again, so you need to get used to falling again and not getting hurt. Fear of falling makes you more likely to fall, so by reducing your fears, you improve your chance of feeling comfortable again. Note: Don’t do this if you’re still healing or don’t have the gear to do it safely.
After you’re comfortable with the bike, less worried about the easy tricks and you’ve gotten used to falling, then you can try the skatepark out again. Make sure there are people there. Once again, don’t worry about the fancy stuff. You’re just trying to get comfortable with those around you. Finally, once you’re comfortable, you can start trying the harder tricks again. You may fall, you may not, but you should be at a level closer to your original BMX instincts, and eventually you’ll be back in complete control again.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera suffered from a his own anxiety and took the long path to recovery. He’s got more anxiety control tips at www.calmclinic.com.
Also seen on FATBMX.COM