When we are struggling on our projects, we all like to think that the solution is simply to train harder and come back when we are stronger. While any climber with the ambition of progressing to more difficult climbing grades should train hard, climbing is first and foremost a skill sport with a huge mental component. Without mental climbing strength, we will always falter in the critical moments when we need to be able to flip the switch and try our hardest.
Unfortunately, building mental climbing strength isn’t as straight forward as building finger strength on a hangboard. To help you delve into this nebulous concept, here’s an article from Climbing Magazine by Madaleine Sorkin where she talks about the strategies and mental training techniques she used to persevere and send the alpine big wall route The Honeymoon is Over 5.13c.
“By the time I sent, last September, I’d put in nine trips over two months. Even as my body remained fit, my head also needed a constant tune-up. With any big project like this, I know that where I put my attention will greatly affect my motivation and subsequently the outcome. I’ve had to learn how to build resilience and focus my attention.” – Madaleine Sorkin
Building Mental Climbing Strength
In her article, Madaleine discusses the mental techniques she used to help keep her focused on her goal even when things like weather and intimidating climbing were threatening to undermine her efforts. Madaleine gives you a bunch of different mental drills to help you focus, but they can be split into three main categories:
- Building resilience
- Focusing your attention
- Working on your headspace
Within each of these categories, Madaleine outlines different techniques that you can use to improve your mental game. However, what I like most about this article and why I think it its so valuable is that Madaleine describes how she used these techniques herself when projecting The Honeymoon is Over. This makes the discussion of this abstract concept much more concrete, easier to relate to, and more straight forward to put into action yourself.
Click through below to read about all these techniques in greater detail. Mental training may seem a little silly at first, but it can have just as big of an impact in climbing performance as any hangboard program out there!
Full Article: Madaleine Sorkin on Building Mental Climbing Strength
(photo courtesy of climbing.com)
Other Articles You Might Like:
- Chris Weidner on Mental Toughness
- TBP 075 :: Madaleine Sorkin on Training for 5.13 Big Walls and Alpine
- TBP 034 :: Justen Sjong on Improving Your Mental Game
- Tips for a Stronger Mental Game