“We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones” – Steven Pressfield
Climbing in itself is a very individual and independent sport. It’s just you and the wall, and no one else. If a habit is interfering with your progress, it is imperative that it is removed. I’ve always thought that climbers are quite self-aware and are quite perceptive to things that are stifling progress. Still, it’s nice to be aware of these bad habits to either avoid them, or be reminded that they’ve got to go. During my own reflection, I’ve thought of many bad habits that I’ve seen in other people and myself. Hopefully you can relate to some of these, but at the same time I hope you cannot. Enjoy 🙂
Feel free to comment below with your own bad climbing habit! I would love to hear others!
A) Trying the same beta over and over again
If it’s not working the first 2o times you’ve tried it, maybe it’s time to think of other options. If it’s a physical limitation preventing you from sending (ie. too reachy, you need more power, etc) then stick with it and keep trying! But, if the sequence you’re trying doesn’t make sense and doesn’t seem to be fluid, look at it a different way. Think of other possibilities, even if they seem silly. Try it anyway!
B) Comparing yourself to other climbers
We are all at different levels of climbing ability, and come from different levels of experience. It’s OK to be competitive; if one of your friends sends a route that you just can’t get yet, turn that competitive feeling into motivation to send! DON’T get down on yourself because you’re “not as good”. Look at how they’re climbing the route and learn what you can do differently. Additionally, there’s this big issue on what a ‘climbing body’ looks like. There’s this idea that all climbers are skinny and nothing but muscle, bones and skin. That’s a total generalization. Climbers come in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll only feel discouraged if you are wondering why you’re not as skinny or not as muscular as your friend. Work on improving your climbing skills, and the muscles will come. In terms being skinny, just remember that people have different body types – some people are naturally skinny, and some pack on weight a little easier. Healthy is the key.
C) Getting angry at others when you don’t get the results you want
I am so guilty of this with my boyfriend, it’s not even funny! It may be because I’m not an angry person, but I feel comfortable getting angry at someone I love. It may be because I feel like I need to focus my anger on someone other than myself. I don’t know. But if you keep falling off of a route at the same spot and you feel your frustration levels rising, work on not feeling so angry. Don’t turn to your significant other or someone else and take it out on them. They’re not pulling you off the wall!
D) Only training strength
Strength is important yes, but try focusing on other areas as well. Foot work, beta, technique and flexibility are all things you can train that may not be all that fun, but will certainly improve your climbing. If you’re not sure what to train, start with your weaknesses. If you can’t get your feet up as high as you want, train flexibility and core. If you have a hard time reading routes, work on your beta. If you lack power endurance, do 4x4s. Think of the big picture.
E) Taking yourself too seriously
No one likes a cocky person, and no one likes someone who is always complaining and/or dissatisfied. First and foremost, climbing is meant to be fun. How are you having fun if you’re constantly in a bad mood? If this is you, evaluate the source of this negativity and remember that a negative attitude is toxic to an otherwise usually positive environment. In our gym, we have a running joke that anytime you say something negative about yourself (ie. “I can’t do this”, “I’m not strong enough”) you have to do 5 pushups. Rarely do we ever follow through with the pushups, but it’s still a nice reminder when someone calls you out on your bad attititude. Reminders are key.
F) Closing yourself off from criticism
You’ll be surprised what you don’t notice about your climbing when you’re on the wall. Sometimes it takes a different perspective to point out when you’re doing something wrong, which is why listening to your friend’s advice is so important. Sometimes, I get into a state of mind where I just don’t want to hear any critcism, and this is always when I’m doing poorly. Ironically, this is where I need criticism the most! As long as it’s coming at you in a respectful way, LISTEN AND LEARN. That being said, you may disagree with some advice you’re being given and that’s perfectly fine. You don’t always have to follow through with it, but at least acknowledge it and understand that they’re trying to help. This also contributes to a positive environment.
G) Thinking you know everything
You don’t know everything, I’m sorry. You may think you know everything, but that’s impossible my friend – there’s always lots to learn. This is especially troublesome when climbing outside. If you don’t know how to clean a route and you’re up at the anchors fumbling with rope and carabiners, don’t be too proud to ask for help. Or, if you’re climbing in the gym and you talk like you know everything, it’s just really annoying. Don’t be that person. Learning new techinque, terminology, knots, etc is half the fun in climbing! Fatality or finding yourself without climbing partners are not fun.
H) Focusing on grades
Grades are cool, but extend your climbing focus to other things too. Someone might be able to send v7 inside a gym, but can barely make it up a v3 outside. Grades don’t always reflect your level of ability. Instead, focus on other accomplishments you’ve made (ie. finally accomplishing a hard move, being able to do a dyno.) Our gym does not grade routes, but we tape them either beginner, intermediate or expert so none of us really know what our max grade is outside. This is a blessing and a curse, but it does help us focus more on the routes themselves.
I) Not committing
So hard to break, but so worth it. It could be ‘taking’ in sport climbing, or not attempting a hard boulder move because it’s high off the ground. Whatever it is, you’ve got to overcome that fear! You will feel so much better and do so much better if you at least give it a shot. Not committing just leaves you feeling defeated, and no one likes that. Work on that fear gradually – if you’re sick of taking on hard sport routes, practice falling short distances in the gym, or work on your mental game. If you have a fear of doing hard boulder moves in the gym, modify the move while gradually working up to the real thing. This habit will hold you back more than you’d like.
And that’s all I could come up with, though I know there are others. Please comment a bad habit that you have, or that you know exists in the climbing world. If possible, mention how you over came that habit so others can take something away from your advice! Thanks for reading!
Climb on xx