Proper, Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance in Climbing


This classic maxim to get people to plan and think ahead is often applied to a whole manner of different situation, and it also holds true in climbing, especially if you are planning on pushing your boundaries. At its most basic it is refering to having done the ground work, for instant there aren’t many people who are going to get up after a prolonged period on the couch and climb at there previous limit.

If you have been out climbing at your limit for a few months and feel comfortable, then prehaps you’ve done the neccessary work to push those limits and step across that line in the sand to a new no mans land where anything can happen. If that’s the case then there are a few things you can do to minimise the unexpected.

First off consider draw the route, this diagram can take the form of anything from a very basic pencil drawing showing the expected path, and main features like corners, aretes, cracks, holds and quickdraw. Or it could simply be an image in your head.

If its and indoor route, try to include all the hand holds and which direct they look best to hold them, were you can shake out, which holds you clip off and where the crux section of the route is. These diagrams can also be used to break the routes down into sections.

If it is outdoors, where are the rests, the gear, if its a sports route where might you clip off. Where is the crux, where might you get a shake out. What shapes are there that offer a rest or respite.

If you start off drawing the diagram you will eventually find that there is no need draw it, as you can build a mental picture by breaking the route down, into easy climbing, hard climbing, crux sections, possible rests, even where there is protection. Often to achieve this you’ll need to view the route from several different view points, to get a better 3D image of the route, alternatively it is also posssbile to climb an easier adjacent route, allowing you a birds eye view of crucial holds.

Climbing an adjacent route will also allow you to get used to the type of holds, the angle of the wall, and even the style of climbing. This in turn will help you to imagine how you might climb the route in your own mind. At its most advance level you would include imagining a series of ‘What if’s’ – the gear isn’t as good as you thought, the holds are smaller, the rock is steeper, the crux is harder, the gear is better, etc…

The key Points are:
Start drawing a diagram of routes
Break the route into sections
Where are the likely rests/shake outs
Look at the route from several different view points to get a better 3D image
Climb an easier adjacent route to get a feel for the rock and another view point
Imagine how you might climb the route

How to Climb Harder Course

On the how to climb harder course we cover these skill sou planning and preparation as a tactic to improve peoples climbing. You’ll be amazed at how effective they are. To find out more or to check out when out next How to Climb Harder course follow the link.

how to climb harder

Redpointing, Onsighting and pre-performance routines


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)
5. Succeed