Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. Fear is also almost always associated with a future event, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable.

I have a fear of snatches.

Pick any lift – squats, clean, jerk, press, etc. and, I can do them without even thinking about it. It may not be a perfect lift, but I can clear my mind and just lift. Snatches on the other hand, are so technical…I can’t do them yet without having to “think” about it. I can coach others in perfecting their technique with snatches, but as far as my own lifts, they are by far my greatest nemesis.

About this time last year, I almost broke my nose doing snatches. On one particular attempt, I heard Coach Burgener in my head saying “BE AGGRESSIVE” – I was a little too aggressive and drove the bar right into my face. I cannot adequately describe how bad it hurt, other than to say I’m fairly confident my nostrils touched my eyeballs. I thought I had done something so unique too, and when I sent Coach Burgener an email about it, he sent one back that simply said, “You didn’t finish the pull.”

(Owen Franks at Mike’s Gym, finishing the third pull – see the sequence of pictures below.)

I’ve learned a great deal from that day. First, when you fall down, get right back up and try again. The worst mistake I made was not listening to the next piece of advice Coach Burgener told me….Coach Burgener told me to get back on the bar right away, don’t wait, get back in the gym the very next day and try again. I see now why. It’s like riding a bike – you fall off, the best thing to do is get back on and try again. Unfortunately, I really thought I had broken my nose (luckily I didn’t), and it hurt so, so bad. I avoided snatches for a long time, and I ended up building up a fear in my head that snatches were going to hurt me.

The longer I waited, the worse the fear got. I suffered greatly from “paralysis by analysis” to the point where I had trouble snatching just the bar. When I finally decided to try again, I had to start all over from square one. I owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Burgener and Dutch who tolerated my endless questions and training sessions to help me get back on track. Dutch has an endless amount of patience because he has told me nearly 5,000 times the one or two things I need to correct, and my mind still gets in the way.

The biggest lesson I have learned is though I still fear snatches, I have learned I have to be FEARLESS.

Being FEARLESS means you get your mind out the way and just lift. Being FEARLESS means trusting that your body does indeed know what to do, and at the end of the day, all you really have to worry about is jumping and landing. Being FEARLESS means practicing snatches knowing each rep is an opportunity to make the next rep more perfect than the last.

My goal for 2010 is to become FEARLESS.

(Owen Franks snatch progression)

(Owen finishing the third pull!)

(Photos courtesy of Coach Burgener)

Becoming Fearless

5 thoughts on “Becoming Fearless

  • February 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I think when you fall off a HORSE, it’s best to get right back on. Not a bike. You don’t have to get right back on a bike because ridiing a bike is something you never forget.

  • February 15, 2010 at 9:09 am

    i don’t think trying to be fearless is the answer. i would think of it more as being brave. to me being brave means not letting fear paralize you. fear is normal. those who are brave are able to channel their fear into something productive. in the case of lifting, channeling fear may mean greater concentration, more aggression, etc.

  • February 15, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Andy-You are correct, but I’ve never fallen off of a horse. I have fallen off of a bike, down stairs, out of a tree, off of the pullup bar…I’ve fallen a lot (I know that will come as a total shock to you).

  • February 15, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Pullup bar was the worst.

  • February 15, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Agreed! Ryan’s re-enactment of it is pretty funny though…

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