Hello, I wonder if you could help me. I started kayaking again earlier this year after about 10 years lay off. I was doing great or so I thought. I was paddling down a fairly easy river when I capsized. I got back in my boat and just froze up. I am now unable to tackle any class of rapids as a result. To make matters worse, I have just taken my B C U level 2 coach award with a view to teaching new comers to the club, but I don't feel confident to teach them any more, something I love doing. I'm 40 so ego isn't an issue but lack of confidence is.
What you describe as a "mental block" is not unlike questions I've received from a small rugby player who suddenly became fearful of being hit by a larger opponent, or an ice hockey player who feared being hurt while fighting for the puck. I recommend you begin visualizing yourself successfully shooting the rapids in your kayak, and arriving safely at your destination, over and over again. The reason for this is your brain cannot differentiate from what you visualize and that which you actually experience. To your brain, you will be negotiating the rapids successfully every time you visualize it. I've recommended this concept in the past to counselors who work with people with phobias and they are using it as part of their therapy treatment. I'm attaching some visualization scripts which you may want to use as a guide in developing your own program as it applies to kayaking. Keep in mind there is no right way or wrong way to use visualization. Also, I highly recommend that in order for visualization to work effectively, you must be clear of any psychological baggage or unresolved issues you may be carrying around with you. Good luck.