• 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
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • 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
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • 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?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • 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
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
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    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    Mental Training Made Simple


    Put negative thoughts to good use. Imagining that you will not do well can relive the pressure and actually help you climb harder. Photo: Bernd Zangerl.Many climbers shy away from the subject of mental training, partly because the benefits can seem less tangible than those of physical training, and also because the subject can appear excessively complicated. Entire books are devoted to mental training, but the topic can be boiled down to a relatively short list of fundamental problems and solutions.

    In this article, I list 10 important mental-training tips. Use the list to troubleshoot and address your own specific mental weaknesses.


    1. Do a pre-climb mental routine.

    Everyone understands the importance of a physical warm-up, but most climbers question the value of mental preparation. In high-pressure situations, we get anxious and want to rush through; but the best way to neutralize your worries is to face them with control. Pre-climbing mental prep does not have to involve sitting around and meditating. The prep can be performed during your warm-up climbs and in cool-off periods. It should be personalized to your own requirements and you should be able to condense it into different time frames (e.g.: from 5 minutes to 30 seconds). Practice regularly during normal training sessions. Don’t attempt to use a mental-prep routine for the first time in a high-stress situation. A sample routine follows:

    > Tune in to your environment. Acknowledge your immediate surroundings, including potential distractions. Breathe deeply and relax.

    > Visualize. Rehearse the sequence, or if you don’t know it, then just imagine yourself climbing well in the first person and in real time. Take your time. Make the image feel as real as possible. Don’t imagine the route being easy, rather that you are coping with the difficulty.

    > Black box. List all the factors that are worrying you, come up with some positive solutions and then place them in an imaginary "black box." Return to the box and open it after the ascent, and you will find that the majority of your worries were unfounded. This helps you to trust the process further in the future.

    > Give yourself a final pep talk using positive words. Smile. Listen to music that helps to raise the mood.


    2. Shift the focus from training.

    If you have been unable to train, then your only option is to focus on the other factors that will assist your performance. Climbing requires skill, mental performance and technique. The best performances are produced by drawing on all these factors.


    3. Improve preparation tactics.

    If you make a habit of arriving at the crag or at a competition with trashed tips and aching muscles, then look directly at resting rather than pinning your hopes on a mental-training solution.


    4. Shift the focus from preparation tactics.

    In high-stress situations we all have a tendency to attach too much significance to the way we feel or to minor flaws in our preparation. Be sure to remind yourself of previous occasions when you climbed well with thin skin, or when feeling less than optimally recovered.


    5. Take regular falls
    (onto bolts or good trad gear).

    If you are scared or even slightly nervous about falling onto bolts or bomb-proof trad gear, it’s probably because you don’t do it regularly. One solution is to get on a route that is so hard that you will be forced to fall. Alternatively, set up some test falls in a practice environment at the wall or crag. Use the dynamic belay method and do not attempt this unless you and your climbing partner are aware of all relevant safety issues.

    Note that this is probably the most powerful and effective mental-training tool of all.


    6. Flip the negative.

    Consider that a big run-out means that you are less likely to get pumped because you won’t have to stop and place gear. A route with a hard crux move may be less sustained, and a route that is sustained may be less cruxy. A poor piece is better than no gear at all. A fear of falling onto poor trad gear is a healthy trait that will help you to stay alive. Nerves can bring out the best in your performance. In general, if you feel down, the only way is up. If you don’t expect to do well, then the pressure is off and you may surprise yourself!


    7. Move the finishing line.

    If you are prone to blowing it at the anchors then imagine there are still another two or three clips to go. This can have the effect of helping you stay calm and prevent punting at the top.


    8. Believe in the next position.

    If you are prone to giving up when you are pumped or scared remember that the next hold may be the good one that leads you to a rest or a runner. Always slap for it!


    9. Stay in the present tense.

    In high-stress situations the mind often wanders forwards or backwards in order to escape the trauma of the present. This mental sense of remove, however, will increase anxiety levels and dilute the effectiveness of your actions. Whether it is tying in at the base, placing a runner, or searching for a foothold, always stay focused on the task at hand.


    10. Don’t wish for it to be different.

    The mental-training guru Arno Ilgner was one of the first to point out that climbers have a habit of wanting holds to get bigger or runouts to get smaller. The climb is what it is, and that’s why you want to climb it! If you had wanted something easy, you wouldn’t be there. Rejoice in the difficulty and rise to the challenge.


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 196.

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