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We interviewed the best athletes and coaches in the business to find out how they recognise psychological factors that prevent improvement in snowboard performance and the techniques they use to overcome them.

Interview: Corinne Mayhew (August 2015)

Interview 6: Lewis Sonvico - Professional Snowboarder, Freestyle Coach, BASI Snowboard Trainer & ISTD Snowboard Instructor

What have you found to be the most common psychological barriers experienced by yourself or your clients and how have you overcome them?

I think everyone has their own psychological barriers in snowboarding and genuinely can't think of one being more common than others.

Normally I think psychological issues comes down to new feelings/experiences. It's maybe something you've not done before and maybe had a bad experience, or maybe not enough experience (which can link to Basi learning phases). This all comes to not knowing what to expect, not being able to anticipate and be ahead of what's happening and that's when mistakes get made. Always go with your first choice.

This leads to symptoms of fear.. heart rate speeds up, mind loses focus, coordination pretty much disappears. However, I believe fear is healthy for snowboarding. I've personally done a fair few things with outcomes that wouldn't have been good if they had messed up and definitely have gotten away with things I shouldn't have!  So without fear, people would be killing themselves trying to be the next Billy Morgan without the right training!

You can control fear though. The whole mind over matter, calculated risk, using visualisation, training/practising before you attempt whatever you are doing are all ways to control your fear and put it to the back of your mind and do it anyway. The important part is that you don't panic....being able to control your fear by slowing your heart rate to allow your mind to be clear and focussed...this will help you to coordinate the movements. However, you have to really want it and sometimes also know when to sit down and let your mate send it.

I also do short breathing exercises all time when I'm snowboarding. I think that is another really important way of focussing the mind and helping it to relax.