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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Fear: A Blessing and a Curse

By Liz Miller

You might think the high speeds and black diamonds of alpine snow skiing would make a springtime transition to skating down asphalt-paved hills a cinch. Much to my shame and embarrassment, that's not at all true for me! And this year my familiar old fear was increased by the dread of humiliating myself in front of my fellow Zephyr guides at our annual "spring training" weekend. I knew it was going to take a lot of hill practice to bring back my speed tolerance by then!

So on a gorgeous Saturday in March, I headed out to recapture my courage by raising my personal "Terminal Velocity" level. I skated up and down my sloped neighborhood streets, analyzing the sources of my anxiety and how to relieve them. Tighten the boots, roll downhill in a tuck, relax more, practice deep-carving slaloms at speed, especially on the "bad side." Suddenly, something clicked. "Wow! Why haven't I discovered this hill technique before?" I wondered. And then another click: I was never afraid enough. From the perspective of those I teach and write about skating for, my fear was actually a good thing!

I've seen the tightness of fear prevent beginning skaters from gaining the stance that's required to make the heel brake work. On that sunny Saturday in March, I felt fear hampering my own stance for speed-controlling turns. But I've also witnessed and read about skaters who were severely injured or died because of their lack of fear. The following tips from from Get Rolling will help you find a healthy balance of rational fear as you progress in your skating skills.

Manage Your Fear

You will dramatically boost your confidence by wearing all of your protective gear every time you skate--that’s the easy part--and learning how stop with your heel brake as soon as possible--not quite so easy! Be sure to begin each learning session by reviewing what you have already mastered.

Feeling that you are in control eases debilitating thoughts. You can reduce your anxiety by taking charge of the following elements that affect your learning experience:

Fear is Why I'm Here

Instead of being ashamed of your fear, leverage it! It could be the source of some very inspired thinking, as it has been for me in the last twelve years. Without my fears, I never would have written Get Rolling, become an instructor or launched a web site to reach other fearful folk. Will my fear of speed be exposed to my admired peers at the upcoming guide training weekend? Very likely, but I will do my best to respect the undeniable fact that after all, this is who Liz is--today, anyway!