Below is a long, but amazingly interesting, interview with Jussi Tarvainen. After hearing from him over email we smashed out an interview in which he shares his passion for using his own experience in action sports to help others succeed.
Jussi Tarvainen is an accelerated progression coach for action sport athletes specialising in mental game.
He’s recently moved to New Zealand and can personally help parkour practitioners up their game.
With the MG180X system he helps athletes overcome mental blocks and progress faster and further. MG180X is a complete mental game mastery system for action sport athletes who want learn new tricks faster and safer, gain more confidence, master their emotions and quickly overcome progression barriers like fear of getting injured and nervousness. He’s worked with top parkour practitioners as well as top snowboarders and surfers.
While he works with people from multiple action sports, I’ve put some parkour-focused questions to him. And while parkour has differences from other action sports, such as competitions and sponsorships and pathways to high-performance not being as clear, the internal issues and sticking points faced by practitioners likely have many similarities. Jussi brings his experience as a coach and former athlete to help you get access to your full potential and overcome the invisible blocks that prevent you from learning faster and becoming the best you can be.
How to Up Your Game: Interview with Jussi Tarvainen
1. You’re a former pro snowboarder. How has this experience been valuable in allowing you to work with other athletes?
I work with action sport athletes specifically because that’s my past and what I’m passionate about. I started skateboarding when I was 5 years old. Then got into BMX, inline skating and before that I got into some sort of free acrobatics. I learned how to do backflips and other flips off of obstacles and eventually getting up, running and jumping on roofs for fun. That was in the 90’s and we just did it for fun and had no idea that it would actually become what it is today. Nowadays when I do have the time I enjoy surfing as my body tolerates it the best after all the snowboard injuries. Eventually I found the sport that I went pro in, which was snowboarding.
My personal experience spending time in many of these action sports, going pro and then coaching action sport athletes from various disciplines and from beginners all the way to world’s best, has given me I guess a sort of unique perspective. There are many similarities once you see through the obvious differences.
Having had the fortune to go from a total beginner all the way to the top gives you a sort of birds eye view of the steps you need to take to become the best you can be.
I know the kind of progression blocks you are likely to run into and how to solve them before hand so you can keep learning faster and have more fun and freedom. And ultimately become the best you can be while minimising risk of getting injured.
Having done it as a career and working with agents, photographers, movie companies, product designers, sales reps, sponsors/companies and running my own business – has given me understanding how the athlete/sponsor relationships work and the multitude of ways you can build a successful career around your passion.
2. What do you see as the potential pathways for pk/fr practitioners to build careers out of their passion?
Because pk/fr are such young sports and have evolved during the social media era, athletes who are smart about it have awesome opportunities to build their careers doing what they love.
Jesse La Flair and Cory Demeyers are great examples working for Hollywood movies, producing their own movies/documentaries, film tours, events, jam session, tutorials and their own merchandise. Jesse and I collaborated a while back and produced an interview that goes deeper into his way of thinking about performance, learning faster and fear.
Team Tempest has their own extremely successful gym, classes that go along with it and a product line including shoes. And now they are a media house as well.
Chad Bonanno is an incredible film maker and designer who is the director of Tempest Freerunning Media House.
Jonathan and Thomas Tapp who I’ve collaborated with have built very successful and extremely high quality online training for pk and freerunning and have a super successful YouTube parkour channel Learn More Parkour.
Emily Ibarra is an amazing photographer who works with incredible athletes like Jason Paul, Pasha Petkuns, Shaun Wood and Lucy Romberg. While producing stunning photography for Red Bull and other companies and media outlets.
The reason why companies haven’t been as quick to jump into the game is because they are massive corporations that move slowly and their marketing strategies are old and lagging behind the social media era.
Another reason is because there aren’t that many products to sell. In snowboarding you can have an endless amounts of gear that you could start a company around, which sped up the growth of that sport. With pk and freerunning there isn’t that much equipment other than shoes, backpacks and clothing… so far.
And I think that’s exactly why there are so many opportunities for traceurs and freerunners to build their own companies and come up with their own ideas of how to help practitioners get better and nurture the community and sport to the next level. That’s why I’ve had to expand my services to provide mentoring and advice on how to create a career out of parkour and freerunning. There are an endless amount of opportunities and I can’t wait to see more athletes start to pick up on them and create companies that are true to the values of parkour. Instead of letting big corporations steal the true essence of what parkour and freerunning is all about.
3. You work with freerunners, snowboarders and surfers. Do you find there’re many similarities between the internal barriers these athletes from different activities face?
Yes. With most action sports there are a set of the same progression barriers as well as a set of “sport specific” progression blocks. Parkour athletes and freerunners for example don’t deal with the fear of drowning or big waves because it’s not in the elements they perform in, but surfers do. Fear of heights or big gaps is a very specific fear to parkour and freerunning for example.
COMMON MENTAL PROGRESSION BARRIERS & BLOCKS:
- Fear of falling and getting injured
- Fear of making mistakes, failing and getting embarrassed in front of people
- Hesitation, freezing, choking up, overthinking, not committing
- Self doubt “What will others think of me” and lack of confidence in what you think you can do
- Nervousness and anxiety
These are often the cause of injuries, getting stuck and hitting a plateau. We all have these mental blocks but those who progress faster and further have learned mental tricks (often unconsciously) to overcome them.
I created MG180X methods like Re-Set so you can quickly get rid of distractions and negative self talk for example that leads to hesitation and making mistakes. Looper helps you to quickly take control of your emotions and get rid of feeling nervous or anxious. Rewinder can be easily used to erase injury related fears for instance where you got hurt doing a certain move and now you can’t make yourself do it even though you’ve successfully executed it hundreds of times. And SwitchIt is super effective for getting rid of irrational fears and gaining full confidence in yourself.
I first used these to learn faster and ultimately become a pro and then got more educated and trained in coaching so I could help other athletes get similar results.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the “mental anchors” that prevent you from improving, feeling confident in yourself and learning new moves, then you can start using progression boosters to accelerate your speed of learning tricks. MG180X methods like Reanimation is the much upgraded version of the old school visualization method that will greatly accelerate your speed of learning new moves. You can use Instaconfidence 2.0 to instantly gain more confidence in yourself. Or if you want to access flow by a snap of your fingers, you could use the FlowZone method.
So just like there are parkour and freerunning moves and techniques to overcome specific obstacles, like a wall for example, the same goes for mental obstacles. When you know the mental techniques of how to overcome the specific mental obstacles, like fear of getting injured, then you’ll progress much faster and have more fun and freedom.
4. What do you think most traceurs and freerunners need help with to reach high-performance?
From my experience if you want to keep consistently improving and performing at your full potential whether you are a beginner or a pro (skill wise) you need to improve on all 3 dimensions of perfect performance. These together will lead to more consistent flow and progression.
The three dimension are your: Technique, Physical Strength and Mental Dynamics. It’s very individual but most of the time it’s not the strength or technique that’s holding you back from performing at your best or learning faster. First you need to recognize which of these areas is slowing you down the most and which area you can leverage easiest to accelerate your improvement. Then you need to go put in the effort and learn the skills related to it.
For most athletes the easiest way to improve is to learn a few simple mental tricks because it’s the area they’ve never practiced although it’s the easiest and takes the least effort. Trying to overcome mental obstacles by hitting the gym or practicing harder is usually a slow and painful way to do it and doesn’t really get much results.
1) TECHNIQUE: Parkour/Freerunning skills: The tricks and moves you can do and your level of body control and spatial awareness. This also includes more fundamental strategies like taking progression steps to improve faster and safer. The fact is, the fastest way to learn is to learn from someone who’s done it and who can also successfully show others how to do it. Tapp brothers Jon and Thomas from LearnMoreParkour.com are awesome and it’s a great place to go to progressively improve your technique.
2) PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE: Strength and endurance usually comes later in your athletic development unless of course if it’s a part of your lifestyle already. Your strength plays a part in landing and doing specific tricks but in action sports strength has more to do with endurance and protection from injuries. Endurance and trained biomechanics helps you to stay longer at your peak level and avoid putting your body into positions that are more injury prone. Also muscles protect your bones from crashes. Endurance also helps you avoid injuries because you don’t get tired so easy which is when risks grow.
3) MENTAL DYNAMICS: The third and kind of hidden area of perfect performance is your Mental Dynamics. This is about how strong and skilled your mind is to overcome mental obstacles and safely push your limits to the next level without fears holding you back.
Recognizing which of these areas is holding you back the most from reaching your goals and then working on it, will immediately help you make faster progress.
5. What’s the most common issue you get asked for help with?
- How to overcome fear of getting injured
- How to gain more confidence
- How to get rid of the fear of failure “what others think of me” (embarrassment)
These are deeply rooted in human psychology and development. We all have them to a point, even the pros and it’s completely normal.
Fears like to play hide and seek with the ego and the tell tale sign is often hesitation, self doubts like the worst case scenario stories we tell in our mind. Also second guessing, choking up and not committing for tricks are good indicators for mental blocks that can be quickly resolved with a few simple techniques.
6. Pk/fr is dominated primarily by males at this point. Do you think men and women approach success or performance differently?
I think individuals approach success and performance differently. I’ve coached women who are more ambitious and physically stronger than most men.
To me it’s about finding your own style, your own voice and building up on your individual character. The things that makes you, you. Knowing your strengths and recognising your weaknesses and working on them to get unstuck and start progressing again.
7. Fear often holds athletes back, but it’s also a valuable message I believe. Where do you think someone should draw the line between needing to push through fear and do a big move anyway, vs stepping down and listening to their fear because it may be trying to keep them safe?
That’s a great question.
Fears often like to play hide and seek. Our ego tends to not admit fear because we think it shows weakness. But in fact admitting and being open to being imperfect is a sign of confidence and maturity and it’s the 1st critical step towards improvement. Progress starts by telling the truth.
When you get nervous, hesitate, freeze up or choke that’s a sign of fear. And that’s when you need to focus. Fear gets you alert to pay attention on what’s going on around you. Fear’s job is to make sure you check yourself so you don’t wreck yourself. It’s goal is to keep you safe and avoid the game over.
What pros are really good at is knowing what they are currently capable of and what they can do potentially good. There’s a thin line pushing yourself to the next level and pushing yourself too far.
What you THINK is not always what you CAN. So to know your skill level I advise athletes to get used to doing a mental check up of their past achievements. When the fear comes up you can ask yourself this simple yet powerful question “Have I done something similar before or is this way beyond what I have been able to do before?”
Truth is, there are always risks involved. You can get run over by a car on a cross walk. You can die riding a bicycle or get paralysed by slipping on ice. But do you worry about them all day? Probably not. Accidents happen when you aren’t prepared for something or have no plan B trained into your unconscious reflexes to avoid injuries. If you aren’t willing to accept the risks then I would reconsider if the sport is really worth it for you or if you’d be much happier doing something else.
Often athletes think that pros take big risks, but quite the contrary. Pros are really good at minimising risks, knowing what they are currently capable of and how to bail out safely. What may be risky for you might not be risky for a pro who’s developed the skill and the confidence to do it and have plan B if things go haywire.
- Step 1: Know your capabilities
- Step 2: Know your way out. Your exit plan. How are you going to bail out safely if you make a mistake?
- Step 3: Use a technique like Reanimation to prime your body to succeed at what you are attempting.
- Step 4: If your fear is still holding you back, use SwitchIt, Looper or combine them to unlock the mental brake holding you back.
Once you know the mental strategies pros use to know when you are ready to try out new moves safely, have minimised your risks and have the mental tricks to push through paralysing irrational fears – that’s when progress becomes much more streamlined.
With that being said, quitting and giving up are two different things. Quitting to me means coming back to it when you are ready for it. Giving up means, not seeing any other options than permanently letting go of your goal. Knowing when to quit and when to not give up is crucial to achieving high level of success in any life endeavour. There’s nothing bad in giving up either, it’s just that often the moment you are about to give up is just when you need to keep pushing a little longer or try different things to make the breakthrough.
8. Do you think internal motivation or external motivation is more important in fuelling someone to succeed?
To my experience it’s personal. Some athletes are more internally motivated and driven and don’t need as much external motivation like videos, friends, encouragement etc. Where as others need more external motivation.
With that being said building your team around your passion is one of the fastest ways you can improve whether you are internally or externally motivated. I go more in detail about building your team in my book “Pro Mental Game” and honestly no one gets to the top alone.
All the pros have had some sort of the following helping them out along the way: training partners, competitors that fuel their fire to succeed, surgeons, coaches (mentors), physical therapists, friends/family who encouraged them and supported them, idols who they looked up to etc. If you are not part of some kind of movement I recommend you start your own team today. The friendly competition, your team mates being at your level of skill or slightly higher and the passion and goals you all share will help you progress faster and have more fun. You’ll teach, support, believe and learn from each other which will enable you to do things you didn’t even think you could.
9. In order to work with you does someone need to be at an international level of competition? What about the guy out there who, say, is passionate and trains regularly but isn’t at a high-performance level yet? Would they be able to gain something from working with you?
If you keep hitting performance blocks like fears, hesitation, nervousness, inconsistent competition results, lack confidence in your abilities – or just want to find a way how to learn new moves 3X faster, then yes. But it’s not for everyone. I love working with athletes from all levels. That’s why I provide different options based on how driven you are about improving and how ready you are to invest into your own growth and success as an athlete.
I give out a lot of free stuff in my blog, YouTube channel and website FormSupreme.com like ebooks and training courses. I also give free personal advice in my social media when you comment and message me. I wrote a full-on book “Pro Mental Game” and have another on the way for those who want to learn more about how to learn new moves faster, gain more confidence and overcome fear. If you are serious about improving and learning faster you can get downloadable and streamable courses like “5 Supreme Progression Hacks” and “Fear Destroyer + Confidence Gainer” when you go to my website.
Also for highly driven athletes who want to become the best they can be and get access to their full potential I’m starting to do more advanced live online and offline courses. That’s the best place to get your questions answered and have me personally work with you. But it’s strictly for those who are dedicated to their sport. The 1-on-1 training I do, is of course the fastest way to make progress and overcome fears because I get to work with you in person via Skype or live and customise each session for your specific needs. It’s also extremely limited because I only have so much time and I prefer to work with athletes who are used to putting in the effort, are passionate and ready to invest into their own success. Usually these athletes happen to be either pros, highly driven up-and-comers or those who have fears that restrict their life and their ability to perform at their best.
10. What’s a take-away tip you can give anyone reading this to increase their performance?
Three simple steps for this:
- Get very clear on what is it that you want to achieve. Set a goal for yourself. This will give you a direction and focus instead of wondering around and getting nowhere.
- Then figure out what you need to improve, what’s slowing you down right now. What’s the brake that’s preventing you from moving forward. If you are frustrated, feel stuck, nervous, hesitate or just don’t think that you are learning as fast as you could, then get very specific and ask yourself this question: “What is the problem I need to solve here? What’s holding me back from performing at my best? Is it a technique for a trick or move? Is it from lack of strength or stamina? Or is it a mental obstacle of lack of mental tricks to boost your speed of learning new moves that’s holding you back?
- Then go take action on it. Learn the skill and take it for a spin. Repeat and analyze. Action is the only thing that gets you feedback. And based on that feedback, you either need to take more action to develop the skill to get the result you want. Or you need to try something different until you are getting the results you want.
In essence there are no mistakes, only feedback. The more feedback you get, the faster you crack the code for the skill you want to learn.
11. Anything else you’d like to add?
My goal is to help 10,000,000 action sport athletes get access to their full potential and I love seeing traceurs and freerunners learn and improve faster while building their careers. That’s what I’m passionate about. I hate seeing athletes get hurt and having to give up their passion because of their injuries or not figuring out how to overcome their mental blocks.
I never had the opportunity to read a book or sign up for a course on how to fundamentally accelerate my speed of learning new tricks or how to step-by-step overcome mental barriers like fear of getting hurt that held me back from becoming the best I could be. It took me over ten years, hundreds of books and courses and well over $100,000 of my own money to learn all this stuff and put it into simple formula that anyone could learn.
That’s why I’d like to give you one of my ebooks for free so you can have what I wish I did and get started right now.
It’s not for everyone though but if you are driven and willing to put the effort to improve, open to learn new ways to accelerate your progression and want to increase your chances of succeeding, then I think you’ll really enjoy it. Go to this page now: formsupreme.com/5-shortcuts-to-learning-new-tricks-faster to get access to a “5 Shortcuts To Learning New Tricks Faster” ebook as a gift.
Cheers for dropping all the knowledge and telling us about your services! So are you convinced that a coach will help you up your game? For more, Jussi’s website can be found at Form Supreme – where you can find out more about him, and access his services and resources.