Ask An Expert: How To Defeat Your Fears When Trying New Tricks — by Jonathan Burkin


“Every time my coach asks me to try something new, I am scared to try it. How can I stop being scared all of the time?”





by Jonathan Burkin (TWIRLER)

As with any sport, there are certain fears that athletes encounter. Whether it be getting tackled in football, stepping up to bat in baseball, or attempting a new vault in gymnastics, athletes struggle in finding the courage to face their fears. With baton twirlers, we are challenged everyday with not only the physical demand, but also the mental, as we are expected to maintain control of a metal rod. From Beginner to Elite, we have all at some point, and most likely still do, come across scary tricks, frightening roll sections, and 40 foot tosses that are sure to fall like a brick. So, how do we do it? How do we keep ourselves composed under the immense fear that encompasses trying something new? Here is a list of the do’s and don’ts of dealing with fear:

1. TRUST in your training! From the beginning, you have been taught the foundation of baton twirling. You know exactly what to do when you approach a trick. A proper set (toss) will ensure a positive return of your baton. Baton twirling is simply the constant addition of what you have learned since you started. Whether approaching a one spin or triple illusion, a perfect toss is required. You already know how to do this. Trust in your toss, your training, and preparation.

2. TRUST your Coach! Your Coach is there to make you the absolute best twirler you can be. They have guided you down a path that required sturdy training, and hard work. When they request a new trick be attempted, know that they are confident you will succeed. Maybe not the first time it is attempted, but eventually, you will be able to master it. Your coach is not there to hurt you, and they certainly do not want to see you injured. They are there to help and encourage. If they think you can do it, trust in their advice. Give them your best!

3. TRUST in your mental game! The mind can play funny tricks on us some times. Having a tough mental attitude toward your new endeavor is essential in trying anything new. Don’t let your fear overcome you. Overcome your fear!

By nature, twirlers are not easily scared. We perform in front of millions of people every year. We twirl fire batons on the football field, compete for Miss America, twirl on reality TV shows, and wow the audiences of Cirque Du Soleil. We can be nervous, but we are not afraid. We are strong, and able to overcome whatever is thrown at us. When you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. The best advice I was ever given comes from a twirler I met when I was 14. She told me, “Never be afraid! Fear means failure.” Twirlers don’t fail. We prevail. So get to the gym, and show ‘em what you got!

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