• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
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  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
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  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
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  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
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  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
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  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
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  • Training With an Injury
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  • How Often Should You Rest?
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  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
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    Managing the Fear of Falling

    By Eric Hörst

    This article was previously published on Training4Climbing.com.

    Big routes with big air should embolden you to climb with an “it’s okay to fall” mentality (assuming good gear and a trustworthy belayer). Only by letting go of the fear and climbing until you drop will you come to truly be a master manager of fear. Photo courtesy of Eric Hörst/Training4Climbing.com.

    I occasionally hear from an experienced climber, with hundreds of ascents under his belt, complaining that he still wrestles with a severe fear of falling even after many years of climbing. I respond by explaining that you don’t learn to expertly manage the fear of falling simply through experience at climbing—you become empowered to challenge the fear of falling through experience at falling!

    Consequently, engaging in occasional practice falling is an essential part of becoming an effective fear-manager. Practice falling will benefit you in a couple of important ways. 

    First, it teaches you to trust the belay system and thus dismantles ridiculous fears such as that of the rope breaking or a bolt failing. More important, it teaches you how to fall—learning to relax your body, stay upright, and avoid catching your foot on the rope or rock while falling are all critical skills that will become largely unconscious through practice. 

    Finally, taking practice falls will gradually override the innate fear of falling in safe situations (when the gear is solid and the fall will be clean). In time, these skills will wire into your brain, thus empowering you to make the right choices in climbing upward despite the fear of a fall and enabling you to react instantly in managing a fall when it happens. 

    Taking practice falls is best done in the controlled setting of a climbing gym, although you can also do it at a sport crag. Practice on a somewhat overhanging sport route that’s void of protruding holds; use a good rope, double-check your knot and buckle, and employ an experienced belayer. Start off by taking a few short falls with a bolt location near your knees—with rope stretch this will result in about a five- or six-foot fall. When you become comfortable taking these short falls, climb a bit higher so the bolt is somewhere near your feet. 

    Depending on the amount of rope between you and the belayer, this will result in a medium-length sport-climbing fall of about ten feet, give or take. Practice taking these short- and medium-length falls at least once per week for a few months and you will gradually come to accept these falls as the “no-big-deal” that they are (when gear is good). Some climbers progress to taking practice falls with the bolt a few feet below their feet—these longer sport-climbing falls can total fifteen to twenty feet depending on the amount of rope stretch and belayer “give.” These longer falls should always be practiced on routes that overhang at least 30 degrees past vertical, so that they are “air falls” with little chance of hitting the rock hard or catching a foot on the rope.

    The long-term effect of taking practice falls is that you will be able to detach from the fear of falling in safe situations and climb free with little or no fear load. Still, you will occasionally come upon situations where a fall looks to be completely safe, yet for some reason it’s making you feel a little scared (perhaps the fall will yield a bit of swing or it just looks weird). In such a case, you would benefit greatly by taking a single “test fall” in order to experience what it will be like—this will erase the fear you are feeling, because it’s not knowing what the fall will be like that you fear, not that act of falling itself.

    In the end, addressing the fear of falling is a long-term endeavor that will take you months or years, not days or weeks, to come to manage. It’s a step-by-step process that requires both the willingness to take practice falls, as well as the courage to push yourself to the limit and take real falls when climbing for performance. 


    Check out the Weekend Whipper Video Gallery for some not so planned climbing falls


    Also By Eric Hörst

    Slowing the Pump Clock

    Projecting 101 - 6 Tips for Sending

    Effective Gym Training Strategies for Route Climbing 

      About the Author:

    An accomplished climber of more than 38 years, Eric is an internationally renowned author, researcher, and climbing coach. Eric is the world’s most widely published climbing coach with six books (and many foreign translations) selling more than 300,000 copies, including his best-selling tome Training for Climbing, and hundreds of magazine and Web articles published. A self-professed “climber for life”, Eric remains active at the cliffs and as a researcher, author, and coach. His website is: Training4Climbing.com

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