Blocked by fears? Get yourself unstuck!

Do reverse dives move you to terror? Have you been stuck too long on a particular dive? Do you fall apart in competition when it counts the most? Do you have trouble leaving your mistakes and crashes in the past? Have you suddenly lost one or more dives on your list? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then I can help!

As an expert in the field of peak performance and mental toughness, I have worked with hundreds of divers at every level to help them use their heads to perform better. If you’re stuck on a dive that you’re capable of doing physically, then chances are good that you’re unknowingly setting yourself up to fail. If you focus on and think about the wrong things as you attempt that problematic dive, you’ll continue to stay stuck.

Mastering fear on the board

  1. Understand that fears and blocks are NORMAL
  2. Be patient and kind to yourself when you get stuck and lose dives.
  3. The loss is only temporary.
  4. Getting angry and frustrated with yourself will only make your fears and blocks worse.
  5. Take steps backwards to work on lead-ups when you’re scared.
  6. Try to keep your focus on the FEEL of the dive and NOT your thinking

Most fears and blocks in this sport are a result of accumulated scary experiences.

If you look carefully at an athlete’s history, you’ll see any number of experiences that were physically or emotionally upsetting to them. These could be related to diving or totally unrelated. For example, an injury, a scary smack, a time when you got lost in the air and it freaked you out, or a painful run-in with the board.

Because we automatically memorize these upsetting events, the diver will hold them in their mind and body long after the incident has been forgotten. The next time that diver is in any way reminded of that original upsetting experience or is under pressure, then components of this scary event (images, emotions, anxiety, self-doubts, physical tightness, similar movements) get activated and break through into consciousness. The end result is that the diver suddenly starts to feel unsafe inside.

When this happens, biology takes over. As mammals, the most important thing to us is survival. Whenever any mammal is threatened, their nervous system automatically goes into the “red zone,” triggering a self-protective response. While most of us understand these self protective responses as fight or flight, when you’re on the board ready to do a reverse, you can’t fight or flee! When we’re in danger and can’t protect ourselves, there’s a third, default survival response that then automatically clicks in: The freeze response.

The survival reflex of freeze has pushed the trained performance skills offline!

Suddenly, the diver can’t get his/her body to do what it knows how to do! To the diver, it feels as if they’ve forgotten the dive! What’s really happened here is the diver’s survival reflex of freeze has pushed their trained performance skills offline. This is the reason why divers inexplicably lose their dives. They do not feel safe inside. This problem is further exacerbated by coaches who respond to the stuck diver with anger, frustration, and impatience. When this happens, the diver feels even less safe inside, making them more likely to freeze. It can also be further complicated by the perfectionism of the diver. Athletes who get really angry and quickly frustrated with themselves because they’re balking on a dive they feel they should be throwing feel even less safe inside.

In my experience, getting divers fully unstuck requires working with the biological roots of the problem and helping them calm their nervous systems down so that they don’t automatically click into the self-protective response of freeze. I can help you get there with either my one on one work or my audio packages.

As a Sports Performance and Mental Toughness Training Consultant, Dr. Alan Goldberg works with divers at every level, from Olympian to junior competitors. Dr. G. specializes in helping divers overcome fears and blocks and return to their potential. He is the author of the audio set, Diving With The Competitive Advantage, and his revolutionary book, This Is Your Brain On Sports.

  • I won High School States this year and there's no doubt in my mind why! Your MP3 program! I can't believe that I went through the season and into this big meet excited to compete instead of scared out of my wits the way I used to be. I think everyone should use your program!

    Sandy W. Nashville, Tennessee
  • Your "14 Steps" and Diving MP3s have some of my favorite "teaching tales!" During our sectional finals, one of my divers was not diving to his potential. During the break I reminded him of the Donkey story to "shake it off & step up!" Sure enough, after the break he performed beautifully!

    Vicki New Jersey
  • Your program for divers REALLY helped me. I was always a good diver in practice but something would happen to me under pressure. You helped me see that my focus was on all the wrong things and taught me how to stay cool under big competition pressure.  I just qualified for Nationals!

    Brian Texas
  • I have followed your advice and Dee Dee used your diving package. She now understands and accepts that fear is NORMAL! Your material has helped her get over her fear of reverses and she has even done them in a couple of competitions both on 1m and 3m. Totally Amazing!

    Tina Pennsylvania
  • Thank you Sara or helping me to become a better diver and for the tools that you gave me to help overcome some of my scariest dives. I now can do inward flip, handstand off the 5 meter platform along with inward dive, back dive, and one and a half on the five meter!

    L.D. 12-year-old diver, California
  • Sara, the fact that [my daughter] is now trying new dives, is proudly wearing her bruises, and hasn’t had a single anxiety attack cannot be a coincidence. Thank you so much for working with her. I truly believe the tools she learns with you will help her succeed not only in diving, but life!

    Parent 17-year-old diver, California


OVERCOMING PERFORMANCE FEARS AND BLOCKS Are you struggling with a seemingly mysterious performance problem? Have you or your athlete suddenly lost BASIC abilities? FINALLY understand where this FRUSTRATING problem comes from and what you can do about it!

WHY GYMNASTS, DIVERS, SKATERS AND CHEERLEADERS SUDDENLY SEEM TO LOSE THEIR SKILLS AND BALK Over the years I get countless referrals from athletes who, for no apparent reason, suddenly lose their skills and ability to execute what once came easily to them.

THE MENTAL SIDE OF ATHLETIC INJURIES The mental pain caused by your injury and the temporary or permanent loss of your sport can be far more devastating than the strained or torn ligaments, pulled muscles, ripped cartilage or broken bones. Unless this type of pain is directly addressed and “treated”, your overall recovery will be slow and incomplete.


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