Tag Archives: mental game

Conquering a Fear of Falling

Climber Fear

Chelsea on Fuzzy Undercling (5.11b) in the Red River Gorge. Photo by Erik Thatcher.

Chelsea has been climbing for 11 years and has dedicated her life’s work to outdoor education as an Outward Bound instructor. The self-proclaimed lover of all styles of climbing: bouldering, sport, trad, mountaineering, and ice, has worked hard to overcome her fear of falling. Today she shares her story with you. 

I was fed up, utterly frustrated, on the brink of quitting climbing all together.

I had spent the majority of my decade-long climbing career not climbing anywhere close to my physical limit. Here I was, an Outward Bound Instructor whose job it was to teach people to push their comfort zones in order to learn what they are truly capable of, and I was not able to do that for myself. It’s not because I didn’t want to. I really did want to know what it felt like to try hard and to climb while pushing my physical limit.

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Mindfulness in Climbing

Photo credit: flowingspiritjourneys.com

Bringing a meditative mindset to the crag.  Photo credit: flowingspiritjourneys.com

Today’s post is from guest contributor Anna Enright, a climber, mother to 2 climbers, and a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. She works with the youth team at MetroRock Climbing Centers on mindfulness practice for competition performance. We’re lucky that she’s shared some of her tips for honing your focus and awareness to send your next project!

A few summers ago, after years of watching kids in local and national competitions trying to perform their best, I became interested in learning what qualities enable certain climbers to succeed in a high pressure setting and others to falter in the same situation. How can an athlete cultivate those qualities if he/she is having difficulties when performing under pressure? After scouring the literature on the topic of peak performance, I found articles in the fields of neuroscience, positive psychology and mindfulness. Key mental skills include focus/attention, confidence, empowering thoughts and the ability to regulate emotions and energy.

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From Marathons to Multi-Pitch: Maximizing Your Mental Game with the Help of Others

Climbing Mental Game

Tess climbing at Seneca Rocks.

The mental aspect of climbing is one of the most challenging topics to address. Each climber has an individual experience of fear on the rocks shaped by their past experiences. Yet this experience is something that all climbers can relate to, regardless of their level. In today’s post, guest contributor Laura K. asked athletes about their experience of mental barriers and how the support of others has been instrumental in getting through challenging situations.

I’ve been both an endurance athlete and a climber for a few years. The mental barriers of climbing have left me baffled and stuck, while I have been able to push through multiple triathlons and long-distance running races. Is mental prowess achieved in different ways for different sports?

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How To Deal When You’re On The Injured List

Learning how to climb with one foot.

Learning how to climb with one foot is kind of like learning to climb for the first time.

The worst part about being injured is not the pain, but the mental game.  I have been at times overwhelmed, in tears, thinking about the setbacks, how long it will take me to get back to where I was, and how much I just plain miss climbing, and the climbing community.  I was just starting to get super psyched on bouldering outside. That was new for me and it felt satisfying.  Then I made one dumb mistake doing something I’ve done a hundred times.  I just needed to jump 2 or 3 inches further back and I would have been fine.  Instead, as I was jumping off this problem, my left foot didn’t land completely on the crashpad, and it hit part of the boulder.  In a second, my ankle was fractured, and my life was very different.

I’ve never had an injury before.  As you may recall about me, I’m the “newb”.  I have never really been athletic in my whole life, very much the city gal, and certainly have never injured myself (unless you count, like, breaking a nail as an injury).  So, having no idea what I was in for, for the first week, I was surprisingly positive.  I watched Courtney Sanders’ video about training with her ankle injury a bunch of times, and read up about training while injured online.  There are a number of inspiring stories like this one, or this one, or great tips, for example from pro climber Steph Davis on how to train when you have to stay off one leg.  And from Evening Sends on how to not be annoying about being injured. Having armed myself with knowledge, I was feeling upbeat, and thinking to myself that this was going to be a great opportunity to focus on other aspects of fitness, and that I would get back to climbing, barely missing a beat.  Well, I’m here to admit that isn’t exactly how it’s been going.

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Winning at Your Own Head Game


I love the physical aspects of climbing – the burn after a quick, intense gym session or feeling completely spent after a long day at the crag. But for me, it’s the mental aspect that keeps me coming back. The “head game” adds a layer of complexity that I haven’t experienced with other sports and reveals much more about you than just your performance as a climber. Your head game shows you where you’ve been, where you currently are with the sport, and where you’re going. It can completely make or break your climbing experience. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on making sense of your head game by teasing it apart with some seemingly easy questions. I’ll share my answers as an example of just how wonderfully messy and rewarding your head game can be.

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