One of the most important skills of an athlete is learning how to fall. With the Olympics coming up, any wipe-out you see, while it may seem unimpressive, there is so much technical work going into their fall to make sure they can get up afterwords. Here’s how they do it.
1.) Accept that you will fall
You are going to fall at some point in your life. The sooner you can accept this, the more prepared you will be when it inevitably happens.
Your failures do not define your future successes. We’ve all heard of how many times Abe Lincoln failed before going down as one of the great American presidents. We’ve all heard the overused quote, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.”
It is overused for a reason. Accept that you will fall, so you can live without fear.
2.) Protect your head
Your brain is important. You don’t have to have a degree in neuroscience to know that.
Mid-fall, it’s easy to fall apart and just give up, but that will make it worse than it has to be. You will lose focus of what is important, and you will suffer.
When you begin to fail, know that you’ll end up OK, and start to take the steps to protect what is important. Whether that be your head, or in more relatable circumstances, the people you care about, your job, your mental health, etc. Don’t lose sight of what is important to you.
3.) Roll the way you are falling
While your brain will usually tell you otherwise, the best way to absorb the impact is to roll out of the fall. For example, if you’re falling toward your right shoulder, rather than putting out your hands, and braking your arms, tuck your head in, and try to flip forward onto your back.
Roll with the punches. If you mess up, do not deny, deny, deny. Even though your brain is telling you that it is the worst possible course of action, own up to it, and apologize. Your brain isn’t always right. Sometimes it’s best to steer into the skid.
This is hard advice to follow, yet arguably the most important. When you relax your muscles and breathe, your body is able to flop around.
It’s the difference between punching glass vs a pillow. One of those is going to shatter.
I’ve found that, nearly every time I’ve been faced with adversity, simply relaxing, and taking a step back, helps immensely. A clear head fosters the greatest solutions, as well as boosts confidence.
5.) Don’t get too embarrassed
“Young children are arguably the best fallers because they have yet to develop fear or embarrassment, so they just tumble and roll without tensing up and trying to catch themselves.”
~Kate Murphy, New York Times
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this article is actually about failure in life, not physical tumbles. To wrap it up, my parting advice is to live your life free of embarrassment. When you fail (or fall for that matter), the best thing you can do it to own it. I promise it isn’t as big a deal as you think.
I hope this advice helps you when you find yourself kissing the ground, or feeling like you can’t recover. Falling is about damage control, and getting back up. With enough practice, anyone can fail with success.