How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

From Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon tightrope walk, Dr. Rob Bell shares a sport psychology lesson that any athlete can use to insure success.

Skywire Nik Wallenda

A few weeks ago, I was glued to the TV watching Nik Wallenda attempt to walk 1,500 feet across the Grand Canyon on a 2-inch thick wire. Now I am all for adrenaline rushes, but during the build-up, I couldn't help thinking "this is dumb." The entire 22 minutes he was tip-toeing across the wire, my palms were sweaty and my heart was racing.

One of my friends asked me if my sport psych mind was blown. Before I could even answer, Wallenda started discussing his mental training. He explained that every time he stepped up on the training rope, he visualized himself on the wire over the Grand Canyon. He mentally transported himself to that wire to allow himself to be one hundred percent during his training. He went on to say that when he stepped out on the Grand Canyon wire, he planned to take his mind out of the moment and back to his training wire, focusing on all he had done to prepare. He was going to rely totally on the confidence he gained during his training.

I love that answer! Wallenda made himself train as if he were in the Grand Canyon, but when he got to the real event, he relied on his work at his training facility. He realized that to succeed in his death-defying walk, he had to focus on training as if he were in that moment. Everything else was the same: the wire, the shoes, the pole. The only difference was the location.

Wallenda revealed a perfect model for training. If you want to be successful in any athletic situation, get ready by mentally putting yourself in the moment. Then, when the moment comes, remember your training and let it inspire your confidence.

We only truly give a hundred percent in our training when we incorporate the mental aspect.

Train yourself to be ready for the moment, because there won't always be a net to catch you if you fall.

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Photo: Discovery


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