To some degree it is true that all extreme sports athletes must exercise more mental powers than their counterparts from more traditional sports.
After all, overcoming your mental demons as you get ready to jump from a plane, take off on a big wave, or line up a handrail to grind, is something altogether more challenging than kicking a ball or running in a straight line as fast as you can.
However, there are some extreme sports that actually specialize in pushing their competitors to both athletic and mental extremes, so that only the most well-rounded players can emerge victorious.
Here are some of the bizarre extreme sports that demand command of one’s body and mind.
Trying to come up with complex chess strategies is difficult at the best of times, so imagine doing it as your oxygen supply slowly depletes and your lungs burn
Diving Chess – Leaving Even Best Chess Players Breathless
Classic games like chess and poker are on the rise at the moment, as people go in search of sports and games that offer endless re-playability thanks to having infinite layers of complexity.
Not content with just having a good old game of chess, some bright sparks at the Mind Sports Olympiad decided to devise a weighted chess board and pieces, which players would then have to dive underwater in order to play.
The most intriguing aspect of this truly original extreme sport is that the free diving technique of holding one’s breath for as long as possible acts as something of a natural timer, adding an extra dimension to an already mindboggling board game.
While there have been other attempts to pair chess with traditional sports – Chess Boxing comes to mind – we think that Diving Chess could be one of the best suited couplings of sporting disciplines ever seen. Who knows if it will catch on more as the decade progresses.
For true disciples of slacklining, it is the mental experiences they undergo while practicing their discipline that bring them back to its inherent risks over and over again
Slacklining – As Much in the Mind as in the Body
Everyone will have seen people taking up huge swathes of their local park so that they can slackline from one tree to another, but all that is nothing compared to the daredevils who slackline without safety ropes in places as dramatic as the Grand Canyon.
The slightest breath of wind or the faintest misstep can be disastrous. Although having core muscles you could crack an egg on as well as an agile frame are vital for slackliners, it is the mental barriers they must overcome which are the hardest things to deal with.
The current world record for the highest ever slackline walk is 1,000m. A feat carried out by the renowned Christian Schou somewhere in the dramatic Norwegian fjords. The pictures of him achieving the accomplishment are enough to make most mere mortals go weak at the knees and start grasping for solid ground.
Bo-Taoshi – Bringing Team Dynamics to Complete Chaos
Bo-Taoshi is a Japanese sport that pits two teams of 150 players against each other, in a game akin to capture the flag.
While the physical attributes needed for a team to succeed are relatively obvious, the real key to this game is the mental capacity of players to think as one unified unit, sensing when the correct time is to defend and when the opponent is weak enough to be susceptible to attack.
All-in-all it makes for a truly wacky spectacle and can even get quite brutal at times, as players try desperately to scale another team’s pole.
Officially there are no punches or kicks allowed, but those rules seem to go out the window as soon as the game begins.
Ultimately, the team with the best defensive and offensive strategies, as well as the willpower to carry them out, is the one that comes out on top.