Get A Mick Fanning Mindset

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We recently caught up with Nam Baldwin, an emotional and stress-control management specialist. He has helped big-wave riders, Olympic kayak gold medalists, footballers and even world-surfing champion Mick Fanning.

It piqued our interest given the popularity of the three-time world surfing champion, especially now that Fanning announced his intent to compete on the world tour full-time this season, with an aim to grab his fourth world title.

Nam started working with Mick several years ago, and they have been working very hard together the last three months when Mick returned from Europe. “We knuckled down and went into the high-performance plan and really started the whole process,” Nam related to BlinkSurf.

In our interview with Nam, we asked about his work with Mick Fanning and how to get a “Mick Fanning Mindset.”

Nam Baldwin

Identify Your Biggest Driver

  • Have a simple contemplation and reflection. Look at the world that you live in and find out how you can influence yourself through your thinking and to having a greater meaning around something.
  • Have a balance point. Don’t get overly serious on things. Mick likes to inject some fun in his training and goal-setting. Keep in mind that the more fun you create within the experiences taking you closer towards your visions or goals, the better that you will perform.
  • Ask yourself what it means to you. According to Nam “meaning is the biggest driver that we have,” so identify why you are doing it.
  • Build that emotional horsepower. The more that you visit that fairly consistent basis, the greater the desire will build.
  • Know your why. It has to come from within you, not from anybody else.


Mick Fanning | Photo Credit: WSL

Seek Guidance

  • Get someone to keep asking you questions. The questions will keep you digging deeper into your own conscious and subconscious mind to come up with what it is that you’re doing it for, the reason why.
  • Ask the right questions. If you’ve got the right questions, you’ll come up with the right solutions.
  • Know your blockers. When you discover your blockers or things that block you from achieving things, then can you only find your movers.
  • Get a coach. Coaches allow you to see the inconvenient truths in a way that is non-judgmental but just as information.


Self Reflection is important. Mick thinking quietly on a chopper ride | Photo Credit: WSL

Experience Plays A Big Role

  • Welcome challenges. Growth comes from challenge and support. When you experienced a big wave hold down and it happened again, you  support yourself by training for it, thinking about how you’re thinking when you go into the biggest surf, and get your mindset right.
  • Have a good support system. If you’re going to challenge yourself and set big goals, big targets, you need good support systems in the background, both for yourself and the people that you work with.
  • Find a benchmark. Look for someone who has done something similar to what you want to achieve, and use them as a guide or point of reference. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel.
  • Have the drive to succeed. It is possible to succeed without experience if the person has a greater sense of what it takes to be successful or what it takes to have greater fulfillment.

Footage of Mick’s Shark Attack Experience

The Mental Side Of Physical Sport

  • The mind is the athlete. You need the physicality and the skill, but you also need the hardware upstairs to be able to work those concepts. If your mind is clear, you allow your body to perform better.
  • Keep your emotions in check. If your mind is wrapped up in emotion, that isn’t good for you. If you’re too anxious, if you’re too confident, those things can now limit the potential of how your body can operate.
  • Concentrate. The greatest athletes of all time can easily fail not because of their physicality, but because their mind isn’t in the right place. They allow thoughts and feelings to come into their experience, and that limits how they use their skills.


Mick Fanning Meditates | Photo Credit: The Inertia

  • Don’t overthink. When overthinking, parts of the brain then are being used that doesn’t allow the motor cortex to fire as quick as it can and then the information is split-second too late. Motor skill is lost slightly, and you dig a rail, or you do something that isn’t in alignment with the performance that you would like and an action that you are trying to create.
  • Have a mantra. A simple mantra like “relax, flow” will remind yourself and your brain what it is that you’re trying to create within the body and will allow the performance to thrive. And if you’re not practiced in that, the emotion becomes too much. It rises and you lose the ability to stay centered, which allows you to use your body in a very, very high-performing level.

Mick’s Perfect 10

Getting Into Flow

  • Warm up. A really good warm up creates a struggle and in that process of getting your breathing right up, your muscles clenching on a high level, the brain is then perceiving a need for greater secretion of chemicals that will allow the entire body and mind to work together. Thinking becomes more feeling, and you get this incredible experience of what we call flow, where you can do things in a split second.
  • Acknowledge the struggle. When warming up, you should be observing and acknowledging the experiences of the struggle so that you have an awareness of what’s going on. This allows the regulation of your body’s response to avoid getting too stimulated or too sympathetic.
  • Listen to music. Music sometimes helps athletes like surfers before going into a heat. It increases your pleasure and focus and allows you to be stimulated in a positive way.


Mick Listening to Music | Photo Credit: FCS

Use Effective Anchors

  • Set effective anchors within your physicality. It might be a stamp of a foot, click of the fingers, or just rubbing the hands together. Once you get real clarity around that and a clear idea of what that state may be, and then use an anchor to trigger it into action. You can be anywhere and any point and have that anchor fired, and now you’re going to physiologically change how you think and feel into the right state.
  • Meditate. Being in the right state means giving things your undivided attention.
  • Focus. In sports and in training, focus on the task at hand, know the process well, and give it your full attention. Because when you give something your undivided attention, there is an amazing amount of horsepower that is behind that. And with that, you can break through the challenges


Mick Fanning Focusing | Photo Credit: Surfer Magazine

Set Goals

  • Identify the limiting factors. When you set a goal, identify the factors that may stop or hinder you from reaching it.
  • Have the solutions ready. Pre-empt what may get in the way before you even begin working towards reaching your goal so that when you hit the blockers, you know how to go around it.
  • Develop a process. Start to build a process within your own working mechanism of how you obtain goals and visions, etc., then record and find out the recipes of what works for your high performance.


High Performance | Photo Credit: @mfanno on Instagram

Protecting Your Emotional Horsepower

When you see someone post a 10 out of 10 score and you’re in the same heat, how do you protect yourself? What techniques can you use to keep our own strength and to hang on to that emotional horsepower? The answer is to keep it NEAT.

  • N – It’s Normal.
  • EExpect it.
  • AAccept it’s what may happen from time to time.
  • TTidy it up. Review, but don’t dwell. Because if you dwell on it, you’re just building the same pattern that will then become a habit every time it happens.

Focus on your strengths. Keep your attention on what you’re proactively doing and trying to achieve. Stop jumping into other people’s world. Come back to your space. Come back to your world.
Road to Finals

Treating Other’s Success

  • Use other people’s success as drivers. You have a choice whether you are going to let the success of others drive you down or lift you up. Focus on the fact that because others were able to do it, you can do it too.
  • Reflect on other’s success. Find out where you can improve and how to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and how you can bridge that gap quicker.

Whatever Happens, Use it.

  • Use your experience. When you have a terrible, life threatening or shameful experience, just let it all settle so that your higher thinking can come into play. Then decide how you want to use a terrible or shameful experience to grow and improve.

The Mick Fanning Story

Beyond Your Greatest Fear is Your Greatest Life

  • Take risks. Taking risks has an element of fear around it. But as long as you have systems in place, you have processes in place, and you are taking reasonable amount of risk, you have better chances of achieving what you’re after.
  • Contemplate. It comes down to contemplation, thinking, and then talking to people who are experienced in a similar way that you are now going through.
  • Communicate. Go and chat with individuals and listen to what they say so that you can get the evidence that will help support your vision, your goal.


Mick and Occy sits together and chats on the Occ Cast | Photo Credit: @mfanno on Instagram

In Summary

You can do anything with the right mindset. | Photo Credit: @mfanno on Instagram

In a nutshell, to get a “Mick Fanning Mindset,” here are the things you need to do:

  • Know your drivers.
  • Ask the right questions and look for those inconvenient truths.
  • Never leave out the fun factor.
  • Know your blockers and movers.
  • Welcome challenges and accept support.
  • Talk to people with real experiences.
  • Develop your anchors.
  • You should single-task and have a struggle warm up.
  • Use whatever life throws at you.
  • Apply the NEAT approach.
  • Be solutions focused, not problem focused.


Nam teaches mindset here

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