Can you train staying calm under stress?

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 1.58.27 PM

By Rob Shaul

We’ve been working intensely with both military and mountain athletes since 2007 and over the years we’ve applied what we’ve learned working with one community to the other. As a result, the work we’ve done for both has continued to evolve and improve.

This week and next, two high level representatives of both communities are doing mentorships with us. On the mountain side is Mike Wolfe, The North Face global team member and professional ultra runner. On the military side is Todd Wilhite, recently retired Sergeant Major in the Green Berets who’s career included six combat deployments to Afghanistan

Todd had a SOF dive team during his Army years, and helped prepare many Green Berets for Combat Dive School. Water confidence training is a key component of dive school, and essentially involves holding your breath and completing tasks under water. Being able to fight through the fear of running out of oxygen, and complete the task, is one method the military evaluates a soldier’s ability to stay calm under stress.

Not too long ago one of my professional mountain athletes asked how we could train this – the ability to stay calm when things go wrong, and my answer was water confidence training. Todd’s time here has given us the opportunity to explore this method and it’s transferability to mountain sports.

So this week, Mike and myself were Todd’s “lab rats” in the pool, and next week we’ll apply what we learned to a group of our professional freeskiers and snowboarders, and report the results.

Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA