Will Rhea: Learning Barefoot Turns

The first time I went to the World Barefoot Center I was very anxious to learn turns. Swampy quickly put me in my place and told me that there was a strict progression to turns. I had to learn all four toeholds behind the boat, as well as the line step position. By the end of last summer, I was ready to learn, but it was October, so I did not have much time. My goal for this summer is to learn turns.

The first turn I tried back in October was with David Small, and he wanted me to try it on my feet. I fell on my first back to front, but landed my second one. He told me to try a front to back next, and I landed my first one. I did not realize at the time that it would not be as easy as it seemed on those first few turns!

The more I tried, the more I fell. After you take some falls, it starts to get in your head, and it causes you to be more defensive – which means more falls! Before turns, most things in barefooting came easy to me. I have come to the point now, however, that if I want to learn something new, I am going to have to take a lot of hard falls.

I also have to work a lot harder to keep a positive attitude. I have realized that without a positive attitude and mental toughness, you cannot succeed in barefooting. I know that I will have to stay confident and positive and be willing to learn from my mistakes and keep trying. Barefooting is not easy!

Will Rhea

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