How to Be Brave on Your First Big Roller Coaster

Three Methods:Building up Your ConfidenceFeeling Brave on the RideThinking Positive Thoughts

Going on your first big roller coaster is a nerve-wracking experience. Even just looking at a huge ride with its drops and quick turns is enough to get your heart racing. Feel more confident by starting out on smaller roller coasters, and by keeping in mind that roller coasters are safe and are designed to be fun. With these encouraging thoughts in mind, get onto the roller coaster with a friend, get strapped in, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy the thrill ride!

Method 1
Building up Your Confidence

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    Go on progressively bigger rides. One way to build your confidence before going on a big roller coaster is to go on smaller rides and work your way up to the big one. Going on smaller rides will get you familiar with the sensation of being on a roller coaster so that you won’t be overwhelmed or scared on the bigger ride.[1]
    • Try to go on roller coasters with similar elements as the big roller coaster. For instance, if the big roller coaster has multiple upside down loops, try to go on a roller coaster that one or two smaller upside down loops so you know what it feels like.
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    Don’t eat beforehand. Some people fear that they will get sick when they ride their first big roller coaster. Although this is much less common than people think, it’s a good idea not to eat or drink a large amount before getting on the roller coaster. Your stomach may already be in knots, and you can always have a celebratory ice cream after you finish the ride![2]
    • It’s perfectly fine to eat a moderate amount before going on a roller coaster if you feel comfortable doing it. Not eating beforehand is a good way to soothe anxiety for those who are worried about getting sick on the ride.
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    Understand the safety features. Many people who are afraid of roller coasters fear that they will get hurt during the ride or get dislodged and fall while on the roller coaster. Appease this fear by reading about or observing the safety features of the roller coaster that you want to try.[3]
    • All roller coasters have bars or even cages that come down and locks before the ride starts. These bars are made to keep you safe, and only unlock after the ride is over.
    • The bars usually go across your chest and also between your legs, so there is no way that you would be able to slip out of the roller coaster, even if it goes upside down.
    • The carts of roller coasters are connected to the rails, so it would be impossible for the cart to fall off. They also have an anti-roll back system that ensures that the carts keep moving forward as opposed to rolling backward.[4]
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    Know what to expect. While you are standing in line, observe the roller coaster that you want to go on. Watch one complete cycle of the ride so that you know exactly when all the turns and loops are. Knowing exactly what you’re in for will make you feel more confident and less intimidated.[5]
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    Watch the kids laughing and smiling after getting off the roller coaster. While you are in line for the roller coaster, watch the people getting off the ride. They most likely will be excited and happy, talking about how fun the ride is. Seeing the reaction of people who have experienced the roller coaster should help you feel more certain that you’ll have a good time.[6]
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    Chat with your friends as you wait. Instead of worrying silently to yourself, talk with your friends as you are waiting in line. Chatting, laughing and staying positive will help to make you feel more brave and sure of yourself.

Method 2
Feeling Brave on the Ride

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    Sit next to a friend. Don’t allow yourself to get separated from your friends while you are boarding the ride. If the person working at the ride tries to seat you separately, tell them that you prefer to sit with your friend. A familiar face by your side will give you the courage that you need.[7]
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    Sit in the middle of the train. If you can, aim for a seat near the middle of the train. If you’re already scared, it’s best not to sit in the front row where the ride can seem the scariest. The middle is the best location for those who feel nervous because it offers the smoothest ride and places you in the midst of the other rows so that you feel more secure.[8]
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    Hold on to the restraints. After you have sat down on the ride and are harnessed into your seat, grab hold of the bars near your chest. Rattle them as hard as you can so that you can see that you’re firmly strapped in, and that even with all your weight pressed against them, the restraints will hold.[9]
    • Holding onto the bars during the ride also helps you to feel more grounded and secure.
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    Take a few deep breaths before the ride starts. Breathe deeply to relax your body and your mind before the ride starts. When people are nervous, they often hold their breath or breathe shallowly, which only adds to a quickened heart rate and feelings of anxiety.[10]
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    Keep your eyes open. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually better to keep your eyes open rather than shutting them during a roller coaster ride. Closing your eyes will prevent you from seeing what is coming on the ride, and psychologically makes you feel like you have less control over what is happening.[11]
    • When you are able to see that you are going to go down a big drop or go upside down, your body instinctually braces itself. If you don’t do this, the ride feels much rockier and wilder.
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    Scream to release tension. Screaming on a roller coaster keeps your blood flowing and helps you to release your tension and anxiety. A roller coaster is one of the only places where you can scream your head off without any judgment, so go for it![12]

Method 3
Thinking Positive Thoughts

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    Think of all the things that used to scare you that you now love. Because fear stems from negative thoughts, try to think encouraging and positive thoughts before and during the roller coaster ride. Start by remembering all the things that you were afraid of doing the first time that you now love to do.
    • These could be things like flying, going go-carting or riding a bike for the first time.
    • Think back on how scared or nervous you were to do these things for the first time. This should help you put the roller coaster ride into perspective, and you will be able to see that riding big roller coasters may be something that you discover you love to do!
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    Remember that roller coasters are safe. If you are afraid of getting hurt while riding the roller coaster, take a step back and remember that the chances of getting hurt on a roller coaster are much less than that of driving in a car, something that you likely do every day.
    • Even though roller coasters seem more extreme, remember that they are designed very carefully and regulated closely to ensure the safety of their passengers.
    • The chances of getting fatally injured on a roller coaster are 1 in 1.5 billion, which is a minuscule chance that is exponentially smaller than getting hurt in a car accident.[13]
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    Remind yourself that people love roller coasters for a reason. Roller coasters are designed to be fun. Even if the prospect of riding the roller coaster makes you nervous, remember that millions of people wouldn’t enjoy riding roller coasters if they weren’t enjoyable.[14]
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    Visualize yourself on the roller coaster. Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you feel less nervous. Before you go on the ride, close your eyes and try to see yourself on the roller coaster smiling and having a good time.
    • As simple as it sounds, having this mental picture of yourself having a good time can help you ease your nerves and start thinking of the roller coaster as something you actually will enjoy![15]


  • Consider asking a friend or older sibling what their first time on a roller coaster was like.
  • If you need more encouragement, remember the bragging rights that you’ll have once you finish your ride!
  • If you are still really scared, remember that there is no shame in deciding to ride the roller coaster a different day. You’ll do it eventually!

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