Roger Staubach NFL Quarterback and Sports Broadcaster “Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication. When I am in the last two minute of a December playoff game, I am drawing confidence from wind sprints I did the previous march. It’s just a circle: work and confidence, then more work and confidence.” “Lane, I realize that you get too many special requests and therefore I hesitate requesting this again. But, could you talk about falling. I know of quite a few folks who won’t barefoot because they feel they WILL get hurt. I must say, I definitely have held back knowing that I need to go to work on Monday. All that I’m asking is… is there a good way to fall? A bad way to fall? What should we beware of? Falling is part of the sport however how can we reduce the possibility of injury? I would suspect that you must fall every day. Right? Any ideas here would be definitely appreciated. Congrats on your Worlds accomplishments. …Jerry” Well there,Jerry, this is an excellent question and I know that there are a lot of people who will benefit from your interest. Maybe you might know someone who might benefit from this too! I am going to answer your questions in two parts; the first is to give you what you need, and the second is to give you what you asked for in your email! I looked for a quote that would lead me into an answer that would be appropriate. Read again what Roger has to say. Roger’s insight is awesome! He addresses the importance of having confidence and where confidence is derived. Properly placed confidence comes from preparation. Preparation comes from an aggressive plan that is carried out on a regular basis. What you really need to keep safe is preparation for the battle that is barefooting. I can tell from your question that you believe that it is O.K. to fall all the time. This is a fallacy! As hard as it will be for you to understand this without experiencing it first hand down here in paradise, it is true. Ask any of my advanced students and they will tell you the same thing.we hate to fall. Do we fall? Yes. When a fall comes we usually have a good time laughing about it because it was unnecessary and definitely unexpected. Chances are, it came from a lack of preparation or a bad attitude toward the task at hand. Do I fall every day? No. I sometimes go for weeks or months without falling. I will give you an example that includes my wife. “Big Momma”, as we like to call her (Cindy), has footed three times over the last week which is the first time in almost a year. I would expect that your old paradigm would suggest that she will most likely fall and fall hard. Because Big Momma is 98lbs soaking wet, and more importantly is my favorite wife (I jest), I am highly motivated to make sure she remains healthy and happy so I build her workouts with the same precision the SWAT team would enter a dangerous lair! Because I have the added advantage of guiding her skiing from its conception, I know what she is capable of and what is risky for her. I start her off with what I am sure she can perform 100% of the time and gently work her towards the things that she is about 75% efficient. You notice that I did not allow her to try anything very difficult no matter how well she was skiing. She suggested to me that she wanted to try a back to front on her feet on the 7 foot rope. I disarmed her enthusiasm with the kind of care an NTSB agent would decide whether to cut the red wire or the blue wire. I talked her down from that dangerous precipice and kept her happily within her safety zone. A lot of smart barefooting is simply good decision making for THAT person at THAT time for THOSE conditions. The best barefooters in the world make these decisions at lightening speed while they are skiing so as to avoid falling. How do you get to this mythological place? Ask Roger Staubach! Well since he is not here I will reiterate. The beautiful place called N.F.P (N.F.P=No FALL Practice) can only be reached through the map of PREPARATION! Here is my list of suggestions in order of importance; #1 A trip to paradise here in Winter Haven is the quickest way to achieve barefooting nirvana! You can plan on every day at The Footer’s Edge Training Center is equivalent to a summer on your own (I guarantee it). Visit the ski school page or the question and answer section to get information or call the command center at 877-685-6270 to book your miracle! #2 If you do not have my 2 hour instructional video, The Footer’s Edge, you are crippling your efforts (call 877-685-6270 and relieve the angst). If you cannot afford to get down here to paradise and learn the optimal way, at least get the best instructional video on the planet and see your goals performed perfectly from a ton of cool angles and with all the speed, boom, and driving tips in one place! Then you can film yourself and compare it. You will learn twice as quickly and will have a much better shot at remaining safe. You also can add all these FREE tips I am sending to you to your collection and you will have ALL the cliff notes. (WARNING: This has been an unannounced haneous plug for video sales). Why am I so adamant about this? Because I am right. Of this I am 100% confident! #3 Set goals and approach your skiing sets with a plan. Practice the move on dry land being very careful to make sure you are accurately performing the move. Use a mirror or video to make sure it is right! #4 Break everything down into the smallest steps possible and practice these steps sequentially to perfection from easiest to most difficult. Here’s an example to put this into perspective if this seems too “pie-in-the ski” for you. Let’s say that you feel ready to try a front deep behind the boat. What is the first step. Write it out and then compare it to the following and let’s see if you are getting the hang of this…. Go write it down!!! If you were down here with me, I would do it in this order; #1 check you Butt Glide and Three-Point Position ON THE BOOM. I bet you didn’t have this as your first step. Why? If I have never skied with you, I do not want any surprises or beating before we get down to business. The best way is always the safest way which for many people would be right on the boom. That way if you made a mistake in form it could be corrected without rolling your eye lids backwards! #2 Same thing on the five or seven foot rope. If there is a problem we go to shoe-skis (Puppy Paws) and solve it safely. #3 We work on the Butt Glide and Three-Point Position behind the boat. No standing up! #4 Once you can perform these so well it is getting boring, I will most likely be confident that standing will be safe. This assumes that you have the right boat speeds, boom height, rope length, equipment, and good conditions. These are all things that can be BEAT INTO you or learned safely by reviewing a video of your trick safely while you crack a cold Diet Coke on the coach. Which sounds better to you? Just yesterday, I spent 1 hour reviewing video footage of a trick that I am bringing out of hibernation. I take great joy in this process! You should too! BUT, I know this is not what you were asking me. You wanted to know how to protect yourself in a fall. My first answer was in short, “the best defense is an offense!” The second part of my answer is what you were wanting in the first place. What is the safest way to get to become a “crash test dummy?” This field is filled with willing participants lined up to compare whose got the best scars, best medivac story, and most complete mobile files filled with the most recent X-RAYS, MRI’s, and complete spinal views provided by your chiropractor. Having Doctors on speed dial is not necessarily a good thing. I am making light here for entertainment value only! Here is your answer; #1 ALWAYS let go when you fall on anything other than the boom. If you are on the boom, you need to communicate with the driver to discuss worse case scenarios. I recommend holding on to the boom until the boat driver slows down (boom only!) If your grip is getting tired, be honest with yourself and stop before you take that “one last run” to prove your machismo. It is ALWAYS better to “stop one pass too early than one pass too late!” One of the last falls that many people will take (before realizing they are better suited for wakeboarding) is the fall on the boom when they catch so violently that their hands get ripped off the boom leading to a “scorpion” fall where their heels hit them in the back of the head. This can break your back and surprises many people who think they cannot get hurt on the boom. #2 Whenever falling forward, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to tuck your chin to your chest. This happens quickly and you need to become lightening fast with this reflex. You might think that tucking might put your face into harms way, but it does the opposite. At this point, you definitely are going to hit the water so the only question is what is the best way to finish this pass? It is critical that you do not fight against the force of falling into the water. On the contrary, go with the flow by tucking your chin, closing your eyes and mouth, and unless you would like a good punch in the face, put your hands down towards your hips. If you are the kind of person who likes a good beating, simply make a fist with both hands and place them about six inches away from your face before you hit the water. This will give you something to talk about at the water cooler tomorrow! #3 Never, never, never lift your head away from the water. This would be a BAD thing! #4 Avoid skiing in rolly or rough conditions. Although my buddies in St. Louis take great pride in skiing in a river that has more debris than I have seen in the entire state of Florida, I do not recommend skiing in water that has appliances, vehicles, dead fish, entire trees, or anything that would cause an inelastic collision with your feet! #5 Keep your elbows in when you fall. The further away they are the more likely you will be to injure your shoulders. #6 Be as loose as possible when you hit the water. The tighter and straighter you are, the easier things will break. #7 I should have mentioned this earlier, but you should be thoroughly warmed up and stretched before skiing. The colder and tighter you are the more likely you will be to get hurt. Well this now ends the longest article I have written to date, I think. It is glass out there as I am writing you this so I must now shred! p.s. Thanks Jerry for the compliment. The Worlds were a blast! And yes, I did fall. Email me with your progress. I am expecting a miracle for you! If you know anyone who would like to barefoot, but they are afraid to fall, please send them to http://www.beabarefooter.com whre they can see some Free Barefooting Videos of How to Learn Without Falling.