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Climbing and your Head Game

January 19th, 2015


At iDID, we are passionate in our belief that adventure sports provide a wealth of well-being benefit. Kicking off 2015 in style, we'll be running a series of blogs to show you just how fantastic they are.

As with most sports, it's not just about physical strength, but psychological too. We've been catching up with Ian Pitchford, from A Mind 4 Adventure, to talk about how we can improve climbing performance by training our minds. Here's what he had to say...

Climbing is an amazing simple activity, yet somehow at times we make it very complicated! In essence it’s us and the rock or the climbing wall and off we go on an amazingly powerful way to enjoy a fabulous environment, getting fit, challenging and at times even expressing ourselves.

What always surprises me is that when you ask any climber how much of their success or enjoyment of climbing is based on their physical performance or their head game? Nearly all of them will tell you that they wish they were stronger or had more technique, but when you ask them again, they will all tell you that at least 50% of their performance, if not more is based on their head game.

What then comes, as a constant surprise, is that all of them train their body to climb hard, faster and for longer; but hardly any of them spend anytime at all training their mind for all of the head game challenges that climbing holds for them?

So for all those that have never engaged in coaching the mind as a climber then you may be asking yourself what steps you can take as you start on this journey of putting yourself in to a better head space as a climber.  So before we start on this journey let me share a little idea with you that will allow you to start the journey.

If I was to ask you as you read this not to think about a blue frog, most people have already thought about a blue frog.  So when you ask most climbers what they want or what sort of climber do they want to be, they will often tell you that they simply don’t want to fall off.  So they are thinking about falling off, so guess what happens fairly soon after, they fall off; seems obvious I know!

Step 1 in the journey to successfully coaching the mind is to think about what sort of climber you want to be and to think about it in a really positive way and in a way that allows you to do something and take steps for you to be the sort of climber you want to be. Three is a great number and we naturally find it easy to think about three things.  So if you want to be a strong, confident and graceful climber, think about being strong, confident and graceful and if you want to be precise, successful and competitive think about being those things. Thinking about not falling off and not looking silly will probably result in you looking silly as you fall off.

Step 2 once you’ve decided what sort of climber you want to be turn it into a mantra and say it to yourself, just before you start to climb and say it to yourself whenever you are thinking something different when you are climbing.  It simply creates a point of focus for your thinking and allows you to stand a real fighting chance of being the climber you want to be.

Climbing is a fabulous and a fantastic way of simply enjoying life, so maybe, do a bit more of it.

Ian is extremely passionate about the belief that we ‘are all better than we know’. As an expert NLP trainer and someone who is well on the way to becoming a Master Trainer he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that is instrumental in changing peoples’ outlook on life. Coaching face to face, via the Internet and telephone, Ian supports both individual clients and other coach’s. Whilst not operating exclusively in these arenas’ Ian has very successfully worked with sports professionals and leaders alike. Click here to visit the A Mind 4 Adventure website.

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