Episode 73- Mitch Riley and X-Alps madness, Developing Mental toughness, Thinking Fast VS Slow, Growth Mindset, Discipline and More

Mitch flies in the X-Alps in 2017. Photo Jason Lombard

Mitch Riley has been chasing the sky crack as hard as anyone the last few years. He’s averaging 500-600 hours a year, instructs full-time for Eagle Paragliding, competes regularly, does commercial tandems, competed in the 2017 X-Alps and guides around the world. Mitch’s approach to training and improvement isn’t simply airtime- this is a mental game we play more than anything and Mitch has been a student of sports psychology and mental training and gives us a ton of tips on improving performance through concepts like thinking fast vs slow, flow state, mental toughness, fear control, using language to deal with fear, using words to avoid negative thinking, and much more. What risks shouldn’t pilots take vs the ones they should? How can most accidents be eliminated? Controlling the fear response and why most pilots will screw up a collapse recovery; the importance of visualization- how, when and why, the importance of training on the bad days; why to fly the challenging days; the need to show up; building endurance for long flights and a LOT more. This episode is packed with super valuable advice. ENJOY!

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Show Notes:

A bunch of useful links and info Mitch mentions in the show:

You can find Mitch via Facebook at Mitch Riley, and Instagram  @mitch.riley.84.  Mitch is doing instruction and running clinics and tours with Eagle Paragliding, eagleparagliding.com.  And he’s running the first multiday hike and fly comp in the US this September- more information can be found at faroutflying.com.


Growth mindset vs fixed mindset:  “Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential” By Carol Dweck

A fun read on flow state etc:  “The Rise of Superman:  Unlocking the science of ultimate human performance.”  By Steven Kotler.
Flow: Living at the Peak of Your Abilities“. By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Ph.D
Thinking fast and slow:  “Thinking Fast And Slow” By Daniel Kahneman.
Mental toughness, fear control:  “Unbeatable Mind: Forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level“. By Mark Divine
Endurance Psychology:  “How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle“. By Matt Fitzgerald.
Discussed in the episode:
  • Mitch discusses what went right and what went wrong with the X-Alps and what he’ll do differently in 2019
  • Thinking fast vs thinking slow
  • The three P’s of learning- Preparation, Performance,
  • Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
  • Mitch discusses his mentors and how Primoz Podobnik has really helped his flying
  • Fly like you know how- stop fucking around!
  • Mitch and Gavin discuss recent things they have learned that have really helped their performance in the air
  • Speed bar use on 2 liners vs lower end gliders
  • Regular mistakes most people make and how to correct them- correct your landing posture!
  • The risks that pilots shouldn’t take, vs the risk that they should
  • Using language to avoid fear and using words to make you more optimistic
  • How to eliminate most accidents- take offs and landings
  • How a lot of pilots screw up recovery because of fear- overcontrolling the glider. Fear response.
  • Techniques to control fear
  • Why to fly the tough days, why training is so important
  • Hours- you have to put in the hours
  • Patience- why it’s so hard to master
  • Gavin and Mitch talk about the need to slow down in order to go fast
  • Discipline- develop discipline if you want to do well in competitions
  • X-Alps strategies and how to improve


Mentioned in this episode:

David de Siebenthal, Evgenii Griaznov, Tom De Dorlodot, Mike Lester, Neil Michaels, Primoz Podobnik, Brad Gunnuscio, Reavis Gray, Michal Hammal (Kansas), Josh Cohn, Killian Jornet, Trey Hackney, Bruce Marks, Ben Abruzzo, Nik Hawks, Nick Neynens, Chrigel Mauer, Nate Scales, Mark Twight, Matt Henzi, Russ Ogden, Ferdinand Van Shelven, Manuel Nubel, Pal Takats, Tom Sliepen, UP Paragliders


Mitch just before the 2017 X-Alps

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