Mental Training for Rock Climbing

I recently survey hundreds of rock climbers to understand what holds them back in their climbing performance. Below is how they ranked the importance of several key factors.

  • Lack of physical power – 30%
  • Fear of falling – 26%
  • Lack of technique – 22%
  • Lack of physical endurance – 18%
  • Fear of failure – 4%

Most climbers train their physical power and endurance to some degree or another, and many train their technique. In my experience, few spend much energy training mentally, even though fear of falling, a mental aspect, is high on the list of what holds us back. I think that part of the reason for this is that many climbers do not know how to train mentally. There are some good books available on the topic, such as Eric Horst’s Maximum Climbing and Arno Ilgner’s Rock Warrior’s Way, but there is not that much practical mental training information available to climbers. So, I’ve embarked on a project to research various aspects of the why and the how of mental training, and blog about them. I’m collaborating on a book on the topic with Jeff Elison, a psychology professor at Adam’s State University, which we hope to publish in the Spring of 2013. I’m also collaborating with sports psychologist Loren Fogelman on assembling a multi-media training program for climbers, which we hope to introduce in 2013.

In the upcoming weeks hope to share with you how you can improve your mental training. I will share what I find in my research on topics including:

  • the science of habits
  • creating schemas and scripts
  • the nature of fear
  • fear of falling
  • fear of failure
  • flaws in our brains
  • what creates cravings
  • what is fun?
  • what is flow state
  • what is willpower
  • many more interesting topics
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