Mentality and Climbing Performance


If you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll know that I am routinely troubled by the mental component of climbing. I love climbing, I feel strong (most days!), but I am held back by occasional low confidence and failure. It’s no surprise that sports draw on both physical and mental strength, but that the latter rarely receives much attention.

In my quest for a holistic training regime, I have begun to focus my attention on improving my mental fitness. I know I am an emotional person (I mean passionate, a passionate person), but I would love to be able to feel secure and confident when the pressure is on. As funny as it sounds, I am excited to work on this area of my climbing. I think it will be quite the challenge…

Here’s what a bad scenario looks like for me: The timer has started: 5 minutes. I attempt the route, and fall half way up. I prop myself up off the mat and look at the holds again. In my mind I’m actively trying to find a better solution, but I feel like I won’t get it. People are watching me! I know this should be easy – it’s the first route in the comp! Based on the cheering before me, I know it’s been sent, probably quite a few times. My second attempt, I get to the same spot. Now, I’ve given up trying to find a better solution and I just feel down because I can’t get it. The third attempt goes just as poorly, if not more poorly. All the cheering going on for others in the gym is not helping either. The timer goes off, and I move on.

This scenario represents about 50% of my comp climbing mentality, which is why I am trying so hard to work on this area. Although I’m quite hard on myself, at least I’m quite aware of it! I am always evaluating myself on how I can do better, in all areas of life. After comps, I often reflect back on what I could have done differently both mentally and physically. Much like my Crying on a Cliff post, I know this doesn’t instil much positivity in those who read it, but I do like to have a sense of honesty when I talk about my training. I’m not happy about this, but it’s just something else to work on! If you really want to, you can improve on just about anything 🙂

I’ve done a little bit of research on this subject, and came across a nice website from the Canadian Sport Institute that has a nice selection of articles focused on specific areas of mental performance specifically with sports. I have read several of them now, and have learned quite a bit! I won’t bother paraphrasing them here, because most of them are quite short and easy to read. I’d recommend taking a look!

I’ve also received a copy of The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers by Arno Ilgner from a friend, of which I will surely write a review and summary once finished!

Climb on xx



6 thoughts on “Mentality and Climbing Performance

  1. thank you for sharing! This is something I used to struggle with in climbing competitions and outside climbing as well, so I’m excited to try out your links and suggestions! 🙂


  2. I love that your sticking to it and finding new ways to improve do not give up doing something you love to do . Maybe get a haircut or dye your they will think it is a new girl on the wall HA HA just kidding .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looking forward to that book review. The mental side of climbing is relentlessly tricky…during competitions I find it easy to get down on myself, however I like to focus on the joy, hard work, and people who have brought me to the moment I’m in. Thinking that way has become an active choice and a semi-automatic response because my mind and body knows it will make me feel better. Alas, sometimes a positive state remains elusive.
    It seems luck and serendepity also have their fair share in play…


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