Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Barefoot Water Skiing: The Birth of an Addiction

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

I would like to share with you the question that people ask me a lot of time during the year: “Why do you barefoot water ski?”

People been asking me: what the hell went to your mind the first time you tried to barefoot, what went through your mind the first time you tried a turn (that was not long ago), what was in your mind the first time you did an invert jump at the long line?

I always had an answer about it, especially in the jump situation “the only thing that i was thinking the first time was survive, saving my life and I was hoping to see my mum again” but you know what…I guess all barefooters have been in that situation, and after the first second, you just think about doing it again–and you immediately start thinking about how to do it better…

The fear goes away and then comes the addiction. How difficult is to explain that to people who never tried it before?

Filippo Ribaldone, Italy

Overcoming Fear During Barefooting

Monday, February 18th, 2013


Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”
In barefooting, many will feel scared while attempting a new trick or something of the sort. It is inevitable that failures will happen, but when fear is present, these failures increase significantly.

The hard part is overcoming this fear. Once the fear is eliminated, a huge obstacle has just been overcome and the margin for success is much larger.
The starting point for overcoming these fears is accepting that there will be failures, such as falling, and coming to the realization that pain is a part of the sport. Another way to help with this fear is just simply to practice, the more comfort the better, but the comfort zone must be increased to allow for success to happen.

At the World Barefoot Center, the coaches constantly tell me to get over my fear. Even if I don’t feel scared, I know a small part of my mistakes are just simply being afraid. This fright must be stared right in the face and told its place.

The absence of fear may be impossible but what is possible is to master this fear and overcome that major obstacle. Many obstacles may not be possible to overcome, but fear is.

Bill Cosby said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” This quote sums up the essence of how to overcome fear.

Joey Tombers

Keep Calm and Foot On

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013


We all know that there are a lot of different aspects when it comes to the challenges of barefooting. Would it surprise you that the hardest part of barefooting is overcoming the mental obstacles?

It came as a bit of a shock the first time I heard Swampy say, “Barefooting is 90% mental toughness and 10% physical strength.” But it wasn’t long before I started to see just how much of an obstacle your brain could be in barefooting. For most of my life, no matter what sport I’ve been a part of, I almost always over think something or mentally tense up. It came as no surprise to me when I started to advance in Barefooting that I found a similar problem occurring and one I wasn’t aware of.

Often times, people can complicate the simplest things. Barefooting is no exception to the rule. Between all of the different concepts you think about on the water it is no surprise that someone could over-complicate a situation or think about something too much. I found myself faced with this problem this year. “You need to relax and smile while you’re out there. You look like your just forcing it,” KSO told me one morning after I was having trouble getting my basic toe hold, a trick that I was able to do quite comfortably at the end of the previous season. Sure enough as soon as I relaxed and cleared my head, my toe holds came back with ease like I had never lost them.

At first glance, barefooting is a pretty fast-paced sport, but when you dig deeper into the sport you see that inside the fast exterior, you have a networking or slow-controlled movements. However, from time to time our brain has trouble seeing the slow inside of the fast and we feel like our brain is racing or as I like to call it “tensing up”. I recall an afternoon set working on slalom with Smallz. After my first pass, the first thing he told me was to calm down and to try not to muscle it so much. Once again, I was mentally tense. I was thinking so much about trying to get so many crosses that I was hurting myself more than I was helping. As soon as I relaxed and just thought about the key points of slalom, my crosses sped up, my form was cleaner, and I felt more confident with my slalom.


Fear. Fear is probably one of the biggest mental obstacles we face. Whether we are aware of the fear or not, to succeed in Barefooting you have to learn to face that fear so you can get pass it. Most of those fears are somehow related to falling. Now, It’s only natural that in interest of self-preservation to not to want to fall. After all, water at 42 MPH is not the most enjoyable feeling in the world. Once again, I find myself hearing Swampy’s voice saying, “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying. I would rather see you fall trying to do something right then watch you do something the wrong way.” Now our fears are normally pretty understandable, the other day I was out in the boat watching Ben Groen ski and he was working on his toe hold back to front and he kept falling out the back and then finally he took a hard fall out the front and did the splits so well that an Olympic Gymnast would have been jealous. At the end of his set he got in the boat and said he was glad that he took that fall because on the same trick previously he had pulled his groin and now that he had done a similar fall and survived unscathed he might be able to stay more forward. The next day he succeeded.

When you ski with the WBC crew, they give the instruction you need to succeed on and off the water. From overcoming your fears, to learning how to relax when the word “chill” isn’t exactly the first word on mind, they help you figure out what you need to do to succeed. If you apply your mentality on the water to your work, school, or whatever endeavor you embark on, you will find that your potential to succeed will be exponentially higher. Thank you to Swampy, Keith, Smallz, Ben, Ash, and the entire WBC Team for such great memories and coaching, and for all fun still to come.

Robert C. Gerstad