The fear, how to manage your limits
FEAR: "Psychological phenomenon of marked affective character, which accompanies the awareness of a real or imagined danger, of a threat. "
Parkour, because of its aerial movements, can cause non-practitioners to feel insecure. Sometimes classified as an extreme sport, parkour does not seem any more dangerous than another sport if it is practiced by following certain basic rules.
Before each jump considered "dangerous", you must listen to your body, you must feel the sensations caused by the preparation before the action. The feeling of fear is sometimes confused with other feelings such as anxiety, vertigo or phobia. Listening to your body before performing a movement can help us to ask ourselves an essential question: am I physically prepared to take this leap?
According to Dr. Joe Massimo, author of the book "Gymnastics Psychology", there are three ways to reduce fear.
Physical preparation is the first of three methods to reduce fear. Similarly, for the founder of parkour David Belle, author of the book “Parkour”, the first thing to do for the tracer is also to strengthen his body so that it can absorb shocks in a natural way thanks to its musculature. A slender, lumpy individual who tries to protect himself from shock will not have the same "cushioning" as a more muscular individual.
The second key to dispelling fear is training. According to Dr. Joe Massimo, it is necessary to do a training by modules where the complexity of the movements will be in crescendo. For David Belle, the key is also to repeat the gesture until he has mastered it, then to complicate the situation in which we are going to perform the movement. For example, training to walk in balance on a beam until the mastery of the gesture is necessary to be able to perform the same action but 30 or 40 meters from the ground.
The third way of working to reduce fear, for Dr. Joe Massimo, is physical assistance . One of the values that we quite often find among parkour practitioners is mutual aid. To perform a jump that requires a little more thought, the practitioner can ask for help or ask someone to place himself as an insurer "just in case". Since parkour is not a competitive sport (at the source), mutual aid is very well seen and it is not perceived as a weakness, on the contrary: sometimes we need others to evolve ourselves . This is where the trainer takes all its meaning, he must know all the possible parades and anticipate falls or even offer retreads for all types of jumps learned. It is an in-depth technical theoretical work necessary for the reduction of risks and injuries.
Being able to ask yourself the question to know if you are physically ready, to progress smoothly towards a goal and to ask for help, shows that the athlete will have to learn to manage himself in complex situations which, for other people would be terrifying. This is the difference between a trained athlete and a recreational practitioner, the ability to manage oneself and recreate complex actions in a setting where most people would be under pressure.
Anne Bacus has written a book called "Not Even Afraid" where she talks about ways to give children confidence in themselves. According to the author, when you are an adult, you can share happiness but you also share a lot of fears. In parkour, when passers-by watch practitioners practice and comment or ask questions about fear, what they share is fear. The passerby seems to find it difficult to understand the relationship that the practitioner can have with his limits and with his fear.
The experience of each person defines the way of confronting the situations. Anne Bacus confirms it "The children imbibe the general atmosphere of the society in which they live .... The child who has confidence in his possibilities and who enjoys good self-esteem knows adapt effectively to new situations. "
In an excerpt from an article by Dr. Joe Massimo, there is an interesting passage about the relationship between a child gymnast and his parents: "A child who has been continually reminded of the implicit danger of certain activities (be careful when you are in the gym, you could hurt yourself) is likely to have acquired hypersensitivity to the signs of a potential danger, especially if it relates to physical activity. "
If society continues to educate children about fear, in a few years, we will have a generation that will no longer want to take any risks and that will never take difficult paths to achieve its objectives. On the other hand, if we have a generation that practices parkour, these practitioners could transmit something else to their children, for example courage, self-confidence and daring. The coach must inspire confidence through his experience and / or his training.
REY-DEBOVE J., REY A., Le nouveau Petit Robert, Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue française, Paris, Dictionnaires Le Robert, 2002, p.1924.
MASSIMO J., MASSIMO S., Gymnastics psychology, Morgan James Publishing, 2009.
BELLE D., Parkour, Paris, Intervista, 2010.
BACUS A., Même pas peur, Marabout, 2005.
BACUS A., Même pas peur, Marabout, 2005. p.10
MASSIMO J. Traduction A& M.Ganzin d'après Are you a big chicken? , International Gymnast (USA), Mars, 1993, pp. 56-57.