Mental Training for Climbers

World Adventure Tours

There are few steps to improve mental stamina and training before start climbing.

1. Do a mental warm-up before climbing

Everyone knows the importance of physical warm-up, but few value mental preparation. You don’t have to sit and meditate, but the best way to counteract anxiety and nervousness is through control. You can do this routine during your warm-up climbs or during breaks:

Tune in to your environment. Look around you and identify potential distractions. Take a deep breath and relax.

Visualize. Rehearse the sequence of movements, or if you don’t know it yet, imagine yourself climbing the route well, and in the first person. Go ahead. Imagine the most real scene possible. And don’t imagine the route being easy, but, yes, you being able to overcome your obstacles.

– “Black box”: make a list of the factors that concern you on the road and in the current situation, solve them with positive solutions, and then put them inside an imaginary “black box”. After the climb, go back to the black box and see that most of your worries were unfounded. This will help you to trust but that process in the future.

– Say words of encouragement to yourself. Smile. Listen to music that helps to lift the mood.

2. Take the focus off of training

If you’ve been prevented from training, your only option is to focus on other aspects that can help your performance. Climbing requires skill, mental and technical performance. The best performances come from the combination of these factors.

3. Improve your preparation

If you go to the rock or competitions with raw fingers and sore muscles, it’s time to focus on rest – mental training does no miracle.

4. Change the focus of the preparation tactic

In stressful situations, our tendency is to give a lot of meaning to the way we feel or to small faults that we make. Remember times when you climbed well even with thin skin, or when you were not feeling fully rested.

5. Fall regularly 

If you are afraid or nervous when you think about falling when climbing with safety equipment, it’s probably because you don’t fall enough. One solution is to climb a route so difficult that it will force you to fall. Another alternative is to do a series of “test falls” in a familiar environment, in the gym or on the rock. Attention: use a dynamic rope and make sure that you and your partner are aware of all safety processes.

This is probably the best and most efficient method of mental training.

6. Turn the negative into positive

Consider that a large distance between two guards means that you won’t have to tire so much just to clip them. A route with a difficult crux may not be as demanding, and a demanding route may not have such a difficult crux. Poorly positioned protection is better than none. The fear of falling into unreliable protections is a healthy fear that can keep you alive.

Being nervous can bring out your best features. Generally, if you are feeling “down”, the only way is to go up. If you don’t have high expectations, there is no pressure – and you may be surprised at your performance!

7. Move to the finish line

If you tend to be more sloppy or get desperate near the anchors, imagine that there are still one or two clips left to finish the route. This can help you stay calm and prevent mistakes near the top.

8. Believe in the next position

If you tend to give up when you are tired or afraid, remember that the next grab can be the good one that lets you rest. Always try to get to the next one!

9. Stay in the present

In stressful situations, the mind often flees to the past or the future, to escape the present trauma. But it can increase your anxiety and dilute the efficiency of your actions. Regardless of what you are doing at the moment, focus on the immediate task.

10. Don’t wish things to be different

Mental training guru Arno Ilgner was one of the first to say that climbers have a habit of always wanting grips to be bigger and distances between guards to be smaller. The road is the way it is, which is why you want to climb it! If you really wanted something easier, you wouldn’t be there. Take advantage of the difficulty and face the challenge!

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