Dealing with nerves

Do you get that butterfly feeling in your stomach before getting on two-wheels? Many riders do; we speak to a rider psychologist who explains what they are – and how you can master them…

Rider psychologist coach, Simon Darnton [] specialises in helping motorcycle racers (and road riders) to get the best out of their riding and helps them to overcome any problems they think might be holding them back…

Many riders get nervous before a ride, a few butterflies aren’t anything to worry about. Simon explains more:

“Nerves are a natural thing. Emotions are natural. When we’re entering something or just about to do something that means a lot to us and has some risk attached to it, it’s a natural experience.

Psychology that dominates today, and especially popular psychology, gives the impression that the right  place to be is in a positive mood – we have to be motivated, happy, active and if you feel fear, anxiety or anger then you have to get rid of it and control it as it’s negative – I don’t think it is. I prefer to have people develop their relationship with fear and anxiety and nerves rather than get rid of them.

When we have feelings of nerves, anxiety or fear, they’re uncomfortable and we try to supress them. This can result in making the physical effects worse and it feels like a pressing against our diaphragm, making it hard to breathe, also causing us to tense up generally.”


Simon’s top tips


1: Accept it’s not a bad thing

They’re there to keep you alert and keep you safe – make them your friends.


2: Let the nerves flow without trying to control them

Try asking where they want to go. For example, if they want to go up, let them rise up into your chest with your breath and flow out through your arms into the handlebars. If they want to go down, let them flow down into the footpegs to get them out of your stomach. Allow the feeling to flow and dissipate.


3: Give yourself a break – take a big breath and relax

Relax in whatever way works best for you. You can physically shake your arms and roll your shoulders back to release the tension that’s built up; take a gentle walk; or simply have a nice cup of tea with your riding mates!

Be the master by letting them be. Head out on the bike and if you haven’t got into a battle with them, you’ll find they naturally disappear as you get into the riding rhythm. However, if it’s abject fear (which hopefully it isn’t) and it’s stopping you from riding, there is a problem and you need to take stock.