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Okay so here we are on the river’s edge, scouting the big rapid we have been working our way up to for the whole season.

Solid Crew. Check
All our personal equipment and safety gear. Check
Nerves. Check… Wait…,

Don’t worry. No matter how ready you are for your goal rapid you will still have nerves. You just need to learn how to control them otherwise they can do things like:

Give you the shakes to the point that you think you’re freezing cold. Tip: You’re not, SO CONTROL YOURSELF!
Make you question your ability to do a basic paddle stroke. Tip: you still can, there’s just a bit more riding on it so just keep reading and these tips will come in handy
And possibly even spiral out of control with ridiculous thoughts in your head. (Did I put my will in the freezer or my underwear drawer… dammit! No one’s going to find it!)
You know what I’m talking about!

So, here it is. My strategy for staying laser-focused when paddling your big challenge rapid…
Don’t take too long scouting once you know the line is clear because it’s too easy to get in your head. Once you know the line is clear and you see where you are going from top eddy to bottom eddy, ask yourself:
With my current skill level, can I paddle this rapid? If yes, proceed to (b)
With my paddling performance today can I paddle this rapid? If yes, proceed to ( c)
Am I happy and feeling good? If yes, then you have made your decision!
Now, visualize yourself paddling the rapid at least 3 times before pushing out into the current. If you have rolled or swam in your visions then do it again.
Once you have done those two things, I like to get a little ritual going. A lot of people splash their faces, rotate back and forth with your paddle, or even meticulously take the time to plug up! Haha
My ritual is a big splash in the face followed by a super deep breath that fills my lungs to the point that I stop shaking and visualize blowing out all the negative and shaky energy that I just squashed.
Ahhhhhhh yeah. Ready to style it!

Well, there you have it, team! It seems fairly simple but the key is having a process otherwise one experience can be monumentally different from another. As we know, it’s pretty easy to convince yourself to back down from a challenge but what kind of existence would that be- right? The bigger the challenge the greater the reward!

Have fun, be safe and think positive!