Change it Up

Comfort and Confidence

Confidence, for me, comes from having faith in my ability to perform a particular task. How can I develop faith in my abilities? By doing something until it is easy (or at least easier than it used to be).

Unfortunately, confidence seems to lead to comfort. Once something is comfortable, you don’t want to change it. The drawback, especially when we’re talking about performing a sport, is that it can become hard to progress past the level you are at because you are comfortable.

One way to force yourself out of your comfort zone is to make a change in your equipment.

Lost Love

I love snowboarding. I can’t believe I walked away from it for so many years, but now it’s part of my life again. About a year and a half ago, I started snowboarding again. I started with my old K2 Fat Bob(162 cm), and felt awkward until I strapped on my Rad Air Tanker (182 cm).

The longer board felt more natural, my body was used to the added weight and leverage needed for turns and maneuvers. My comfort with the feelings from this board allowed me to learn quickly and push myself to rebuild my skills quickly.

During this time, I sold my Fat Bob to a friend. I spent the rest of the season riding my Tanker and having a great time. Toward the end of the season, I purchased a used snowboard off Craigslist because it had a pair of Flow’s rear-entry bindings. I thought it would be fun to experiment with this shorter board, so I took it to the slopes for a day.

Something Different

Jumping at DCSPI immediately fell in love with the rear-entry bindings (set it and forget it), but the short board freaked me out. At over 220 pounds, the 150 cm board felt squirrelly beyond belief. When I tried to carve like I did with the long board, the edges washed out and I spilled. After two runs, I was so frustrated I went back to the car and grabbed the Tanker so I could at least have fun.

After thinking about that day, I realized I was giving up too easily. I was in a rut and needed to do something different to allow my riding to be more adaptable.

I spent this most recent season riding the 150 cm board exclusively. And I learned a lot.

Size Does Matter . . . but not How You Think

Dropping the length of my board by 32 centimeters forced a significant change in my riding style. My longer board allowed me a certain amount of sloppiness in my turns. I could go really fast, and if my edges slipped a bit, there’s a lot of edge to compensate.

With a significantly shorter board, I was forced to be much more deliberate at high speeds. I learned to hold a carve with the shorter board, but the turns took much longer.

Speed was never an issue with my Tanker. At 182 cm, I went fast. All the time. Even on slopes that were barely noticeable, I could build speed almost as quickly as skiers who were skating or using their poles to get moving. The shorter board forced me to pay more attention to where the fall line really was, especially on flat sections between runs.

The shorter board made me work harder for every ounce of speed. I had to know what was coming, anticipate turns early enough to avoid problems and really embrace the quicker response of my board.

Change it Up

If you are getting bored with your sport, don’t settle for being comfortable. Find something to change up for a while. You don’t have to stick with it forever, but use it as a learning opportunity. If you go back to your previous setup, you will have developed a whole new range of skills or refined skills so you’re better than you were before.

Changing your setup can also make it easier to work on a particular skill. A shorter board forced me to finesse my turns. A longer board will force you to adapt to faster speeds and allow you to be more aggressive with your turns. Shorter boards can help you get comfortable with spinning off jumps. Wider boards can force you to pay more attention to your toeside-to-heelside transitions. The changes are infinite.

Obviously, there is a time for this. Don’t change everything up right before a competition or something where you need to be at the top of your game. But it might be just what you need to reignite your passion.

Broader Applications

Life needs to get changed up once in a while. When I get comfortable with something in my life, I am no longer challenging myself in that area. It may take a while for me to realize it, and my brain screams not to change anything. But I know I’m not happy with myself when I don’t force myself to adapt. So, even though I kick and scream about it, I try to make changes to keep life about learning and improvement.

Whether you’re just comfortable and bored or trying to improve a particular skill, keep things exciting by changing things up.

What have you changed up to force yourself to progress in your activity of choice? I’d love to hear about your experiences.