Do you ever have those moments where you do something on the river, mess up and replay it over and over in your head wondering how you messed it up and your self-talk isn’t all that positive? What if you could change that mindset and look at how you can grow and learn from that moment?

Summertime for me normally equals a whole lot of kayaking since I am a teacher and I fully take advantage of the time off. This is usually when I feel my strongest in my kayak. Makes sense. More seat time tends to lead to increased confidence for many kayakers. A week ago I went out to the green and I felt strong which many times means I take a look at gorilla. For unknown reasons, I saw the line but I hesitated. Therefore I went back, grabbed my boat, and shouldered it around gorilla. My self-talk walking around was not positive. It took me a while to accept that walking was a good choice and listening to that voice was the right call. This is uncommon for me. If I hesitate, I walk. No more thought. Not today for whatever reason.

Fast forward a week, I went back to the green, gorilla was on my mind, I felt strong, therefore I took a look at the line. This time I did not hesitate and instead while scouting, I was able to show a friend of mine what I look at and how I envision my move as I know one day she wants to run it.

To be honest, I have been thinking about gorilla since I got my Z3 because I had envisioned this being a great boat for the rapid. Today was going to be the day to test that theory out. I walked back up, got in my kayak, turned on the GoPro, took one last moment to close my eyes, visualize my line, and then pushed off. At this point, it is pure focus. No self-doubt, no negative thoughts, all positivity.

I came through the notch just as I wanted. In fact, no fighting at all. Yes! I paddled toward the lip right where I wanted and then boom, I was taken to my right and I needed to correct real fast as I was about to head over the pad. My thought was, “Well I haven’t been this far right before” and next thing I know, I am surfing speed trap. This would be a first for me.

Here is a defining moment for a kayaker: panic or stay calm? I immediately went into playboat mode, no panic – just hung on. When it appeared it might let me out as I was facing downstream, I could hear my friend from the side saying “You got it” but I could feel speed trap wanting a bit more time with me. As much as I love to playboat, I was over the dance. I immediately threw a playboat move (no clue what the move is called!) that I thought would get it me out and it did. I rolled up and safely paddled into the eddie with the cheers of my onlooking crew.

Looking back at the video, I wanted to see why I was a bit too far to the right as my memory told me my notch line was great and I was lined up to go off the pad right where I wanted. GoPro is amazing in the fact it fills in those blanks for you. Watching the footage in slow motion, I could see the water hitting the left wall, and ricocheting off was enough to throw my bow to the right. It felt pretty good watching that moment and seeing how I reacted as things happen so fast, we don’t always do what we envision in our heads.

One could watch my line, see I ended up in speed trap, and think negative thoughts. I on the other hand am happy this moment happened. When folks look at gorilla, speed trap no doubt is part of the equation when analyzing whether to run it or not. Surfing it wasn’t a bad feeling. I didn’t get worked, I didn’t get hurt. I stayed calm and the moment was personally confidence-inspiring. I also learned just because the notch goes well, doesn’t mean the pad will and to take every second of that rapid into account. Take nothing for granted.

This sport is incredibly mental. How will you learn and grow in this sport? Get rid of the self-doubt, trust your skills!