Stupidity or courage, the making of extreme sports athletes

Extreme sports are a lot of fun. Adrenaline pumping, senses pushed to the maximum, it’s all very exciting. The harsh truth however, is that most of us don’t go anywhere near the sports potential. Something limits us, we may say it is the equipment we are using, the conditions we get, or that we don’t quite have the technique yet. Another harsh truth though, is that we don’t really try, not properly. Something limits us. Fear, sensibility, anxiety, doubt. So what is it that separates the pro’s? what have they got that we haven’t?

The answer to the questions above is a straight one, their mindset. Every advanced move, big jump, amazing trick or precise technique comes from a specific mindset that all extreme sports pro’s have.It’s their ability to block out everything else and focus entirely on the moment. Whether it is a pro surfer focusing entirely on a massive barrel, keeping the rail of their board trimmed perfectly despite the maelstrom of chaos exploding from the barrel behind them, or a freestyle motorcross rider who seems to have absolutely no fear and can focus 100% on the move seemingly unaware of the arena filled with roaring spectators.

Red Bull Xfighters

The ability of extreme athletes to focus fully on the moment despite anything that is happening around them is what gives them the ability to pull off technical maneuvers in situations where the rest of us have trouble simply sitting on our seat!

This focused mindset can often be mistaken for a complete lack of fear or even a lack of sanity! This would be an incorrect judgement. Everyone experiences the same fear, doubt, sensibility and doubt, but just in different ways and for different things. For an example, Laird Hamilton is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, name in big wave surfing history. Laird has conquered more big waves than just about anyone else and yet there is one wave for which Laird will forever be remembered. The millenium wave was a moment of pure amazement, whilst tow in surfing a notorious wave named Chofu, on the french polynesian island of Tahiti. Renowned for its ferocity, power and shallow razor sharp reef bottom; Chofu is one of the most feared and respected waves on the planet.

What Laird Hamilton achieved with the millenium wave, was to be chucked into what was at the time the biggest, scariest wave ever seen at the biggest scariest wave spot known, and remain completely calm and unbelievably focused, allowing him to surf the wave perfectly. What’s so impressive about this ride is that when Laird was in the middle of the chaos and fear inducing power of that wave how did he manage to be in the right mindset to surf it so perfectly? He even used the wrong hand to touch the wrong side of the wave face to stop himself being sucked up! The mindset he was in at that moment is the very mindset shared by all extreme athletes when they perform mind blowing feats.

Laird Hamilton's Millenium wave.

The Millenium wave ridden by Laird Hamilton in 2000 in Tahiti, is the perfect example of pure focus and the apparent absence of fear seen in all extreme athlete’s. Their ability to get into the right mindset is what separates them from the rest of us. No wonder Oxbow pay Laird to wear their Surf T-shirts!

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