12 January 2012

iCoach Mind Games - overcoming fear

I have just got hold of Mark Reeves's book How to climb harder and I am using it along side his online iCoach tool to try and improve my climbing  performance. It highlighted what I already suspected, namely  I need to work on my pyschological skills to improve my climbing the most.

Wednesday night at Harrogte Wall was my standard bouldering/climbing  session with the loose collective of suspects that gather. We had a good time and I bouldered pretty well. I was trying to use a technique from the book "self talk" -  no more than telling yourself things are going well and being positive.  I found it really hard to do whilst I was concentrating on the moves, but I will perservere with this one. Frame of mind is clearly important. I got a couple of problems I hadn't managed on Saturday and I did think I was prepared to try a few things that I wouldn't have tried normally including a  long roof problem that was really not my style.

After a brew I worked on what is definately one of my pet hates, falling off whilst leading. This had got so bad a year or so ago when I was on an autobelay, I found letting go at the top really difficult, comically so for my mates. There are clearly some confidence issues here. I managed to take a couple of planned leader falls though on Wednesday. I wasn't very far above the quickdraws and I didn't go very far at all, but I  felt no fear and I was able to feel pretty emotionally detached from the whole process so that felt like progress. Interstingly my mate took his first leader fall whilst going for the top clip on a 6a and managed a 20 footer down the wall. He seemed to enjoy the whole process imensely. I figure my fear of falling is a learned behaviour and so it can be un-learned.

My target for the next wall session is to try and close the gap between my bouldering performace where I operate at about font 6B/6C and my sport leading grade where I am operating at about 5+. I'm planning to concentrate next session on the idea of  scripts. A visualisation technique where you think in detail about the outcome you are hoping for in a positive way and mentally rehearse as much of the route as possible before you get on it. I think short term success here will be about getting up something 6a or harder or perhaps being able to take a leader fall whilst trying.

So far I am feeling pretty positive about the whole self improvement idea and am enjoying focusing on just one or two areas of my climbing. In the past my approach has been, lets try and be better at everything all at once

...More next week.

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