You might think that people who love daring extreme sports don’t have too many worries. The perception is that they tend to harness their fear and just go for it. But if you’re a bit of a “Safety Sam” that doesn’t mean that you can’t do extreme sports. Quite the opposite – maybe conquering some of your fears could be just what you need. So for you who prefers to stick to the safe side in life, here’s our worrier’s guide to extreme sports.
Photo By: Zach Dischener
Don’t Worry! Extreme Sports Explained!
For worriers, your first question might be, but what exactly are extreme sports? No, golf is not an extreme sport. Tennis is not an extreme sport. Football is not an extreme sport. So just what is an extreme sport then? Well, you have an absolutely clear idea about extreme sports after reading our guide to extreme sports. Generally, it’s considered to be an activity with a high level of real or perceived danger. So while going for leisurely bike ride this weekend would not be considered an extreme sport, going BMX dirt jumping is. Extreme sports often involve extreme speeds, extreme heights, extreme levels of physical exertion and can – although not always – involve special gear and specialized training. So, going ice climbing with your ice pick definitely is, climbing a canyon wall is, going scuba diving is, going sky diving is. Need even more tips on what is considered an extreme sport? Here’s an unofficial A-Z of extreme sports.
“Will I Die?”
Having said what we just did about extreme sports being inherently more dangerous than sports like, say, lawn bowls, this definitely does not mean that you have to risk life and limb to do them. Some extreme sports may actually be considered relatively safe because of the industry standards in place. Going bungee jumping or sky diving with trained instructors who meet the industry standards is likely to be very, very safe. Of course, if you go free climbing or wingsuit flying that’s going to be more risky than some other extreme sports.
Some people who do extreme sports for the thrill of pushing boundaries are likely to increase the challenge to the point where the extreme sports they do are indeed very risky because they’re pushing all kinds of limits and maybe safety won’t be the top priority anymore. Many people have died doing extreme sports, but that doesn’t mean the type of extreme sports you do needs to be all that dangerous. Nonetheless, there won’t be that supercharged adrenaline rush if there isn’t some risk involved.
Extreme sports pros often take risks with safety in an effort to break new records and achieve personal goals. But if you’re a worrier, than you should take every single necessary safety precaution. Once you’ve chosen your sport, get plenty of training, go with experienced guides or instructors, or if possible go tandem, then get a lot of practice under your belt from easier to more difficult levels. Check your gear each time you head out, and take your time to make sure you’re doing everything right.
Go At Your Own Pace
Recently we wrote an article about tightrope walking. Would your first foray into this extreme sport be hitching a line up over the Grand Canyon and starting to walk? Of course not! So start small and work your way up. Using the tightrope analogy start by learning to balance on a low wall, then tie a rope up between two trees maybe 30 centimeters off the ground, and then slowly increase your challenge level. If your ambition in life is to one day go sky diving by yourself, you would do dozens of tandem dives first and get plenty of training before ever heading out on your own. Extreme sports are actually more about the journey than the end result anyway, so enjoy the process of getting better and more confident in your skills.
Choose a Sport that Suits You
Unless you’re specifically trying to challenge one of your fears (say you have a fear of heights you might challenge yourself to bungee jumping), try to choose an extreme sport that suits you. For instance, if you can’t swim then scuba diving is probably not for you. Or if you hate the cold, maybe going snowboarding is not going to be a pleasant experience. Choose a sport that aligns with your natural strengths and what you enjoy doing. If you already love cycling, going BMX off-road bike riding might be your next challenge. If you already love surfing, try wind surfing or kite surfing next. If you already love kayaking, why not try SUP or white water rafting. If you already love skiing, try heli-skiing or cross country skiing.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
There’s pretty much always going to be someone better, tougher or stronger than you. So it’s pointless to compare yourself to others. Worried you’re not as good at rock climbing as Alex Honnold? Well, you’re probably not – but that doesn’t mean you can’t give rock climbing a try.
Know When to Stop and When to Push
One of the keys to extreme sports – and this piece of advice could save your life – is knowing when to push yourself and your boundaries so that you can achieve more than you thought possible, and conversely knowing when the risk is too great for whatever reason and you need to back off. While we can’t give you a hard and fast rule as to when that line in the sand is, think of it like this. If it’s just fear holding you back then perhaps you can push yourself to your limits, BUT if you have real concerns about whether you can complete the activity safely (maybe your equipment isn’t quite right, or you are physically not up to it, or the weather conditions aren’t quite right) then that might be a sign that you need to hold off and maybe try again later. Or maybe you should read our guide to extreme sports once again and contemplate on the ways to sooth adrenaline rush.