Meet the Team – Mike Shaw

Four years ago you would find Mike Shaw living in Whistler, BC, Canada, the Canadian mecca of freestyle skiing. At the time, Mike was coaching some of Canada’s top Half Pipe skiers, helping to develop Canada’s next Olympic heroes. However, in an instant, Mike’s dreams of representing Canada and coaching Canada’s national team at the Olympic Games was stripped away.



During a routine training day in December of 2013, Mike suffering a tragic accident. While skiing with his team, he performed a demonstration he’d done countless times: a 720, two full rotations, with a catastrophic landing. On impact, Mike dislocated his neck and was paralyzed from the neck down. Following a successful surgery, he miraculously started a slow road to recovery with feeling and movement returning in his body, but his life would never be the same.

“Instantly, I knew I was paralyzed. It was the scariest moment of my entire life.”

According to Mike, “The 720 was a trick I’d done a thousand times, so I wasn’t concerned about the risk. I even had warning signs, gut instincts, I knew something wasn’t right, but I rushed into the trick. I could have prevented the crash had I self-triggered on my state and slowed down to take a look and think about what I was doing.”


Mike wasn’t one to sit around. With a remarkable recovery taking shape, he left his wheelchair behind after three months in the hospital. Two weeks after being discharged by his medical team, Mike was back in the mountains, this time, in an adaptive sit ski.

One year after his accident Mike returned to the mountains to achieve his new dream, to ski again as an ‘able-bodied’ person. Although he isn’t skiing like he used to, Mike says, “it’s an absolute privilege being back in the mountains, and I don’t take one moment of it for granted.”

Sports continue to fuel Mike’s life. He is now an athlete ambassador for the Wings For Life World Run, in which he challenges himself year after year to run and raise money for spinal cord injury research.

Acknowledging just how fortunate he is to recover from his spinal cord injury to the degree he has, Mike has made it his mission to help others. Mike now focuses his spare time, speaking to varying groups from athletes to returning veterans with PTSD. He also runs workshops and has even been featured at  TEDx Stanley Park where he gave his Ted Talk: Greif Happens.

Mike’s is driven to help others and to share his message of gratitude with everyone he meets.

Mike’s reason for co-founding HeadStart:

“I think that we can make a real difference. HeadStartPro teaches a practical approach to sports psychology that a lot of coaches and up and coming athletes don’t get. By using the techniques and tools taught in the course, athletes will not only get better at what they do, but they will also prevent injuries too. I don’t care why a coach or athlete chooses to use HeadStartPro. If performance motivates them, that’s great; if it’s injury-prevention, that’s great too. We’ll still be boosting performance and helping to prevent accidents like mine from happening to others.”

Never Count Out Mike Shaw

For more on Mike’s personal story. Watch his 26-minute documentary Film on Red Bull TV called:
Mike Shaw The Healing Agent

Mike’s favorite HeadStart Coaching Tip:

“Check in, before you drop in!” – it doesn’t matter which sport you play, keep your eyes and mind on task by practicing a pre-practice routine and habit of ‘checking in’ physically and mentally. If you’re looking and thinking, you have a much better chance of performing at your highest level!”


At HeadStart, we couldn’t be happier to have Mike as our team’s ‘Head Coach’. His passion for helping others is ingrained in everything that we do. To talk with Mike or book him for some in-person training with your coaches or teams, please visit us online.




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