As I mentioned in a previous blog, on the key mental skills of elite performers, one of those skills is developing a pre-performance routine. Now most people will already have developed a routine that works for them, however here we are going to look at ways to enhance that routine, and make it work in your favour as much as possible. Often when we climb well it is because we have answered many of the questions of self-doubt.
To achieve a routine that works for you, then actually paying conscious thought to what you are doing and why, in those moment before setting off on a challenging lead. For me it starts before you even get your harness on, you need your mind to be positive, and thinking that you have prepared physically and mentally for the route ahead, be that training or practising being in scary position. In essence you need to have bolstered your confidence in you ability to climb the route, before you even stand at the bottom of it. For ideas see this article.
However there is more to a pre-performance routine, in climbing that might well comprise of racking up, with what you believe to be the right gear, warming up on the right route(s), looking at the route you are going to attempt in detail and imagine how you might climbing (including what if your first sequence doesn’t work, where the rests, gear and crux are). A really useful way to make sure you have thought through the process of climbing a route is to draw a simplified diagram and mark in as much detail as possible in terms of rests, handhold, gear etc…
Once you have finished imagining yourself climbing the route successfully, then start to focus on the job at hand, Look at you rack, it is all where it should be, your harness is done up and the rope tied securely where it should be, your belay has you on belay and is ready to go, your boots are clean your hands are chalks up and you are mentally ready to commit to the route.
As you step of the ground and make the first few moves any worries you had are left on the ground, up here you are in control.
A simple way to think about it is to:
1. Prepare (for the route)
2. Vanquish (Self-Doubt)
3. Imagine (success)
4. Focus (on the positives)