Friday, 16 March 2012

Scotland March 2012 and others

This was the final blast up to Scotland for the 2011/2012 season, Kasia wrote a excellent account of the Trip here, so I would not do it justice by trying to re write what she has written...

Time to pack the axes away and hope that next year is better

Other videos from this season are ...

Lakes in search of New routes.... 

Scotland with a link to Kasias Blog;

Wales just after the big Thaw.... 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mental Control (Author Unknown)

I was going through all my documents and research I have built up over the years and I found this as a word document, I can't remember where it came from and who wrote it... so I can't credit anyone, but it is a pretty good piece on Mental Control and I thought it was worth sharing... 

Mental Control

Often the difference between winning and losing depends on your mental control. Getting and keeping your head together can be much easier if you use some of the tools of sports psychology: 1) Develop self-confidence; 2) use mental imagery, and; 3) control doubt and negative thoughts. These techniques help you develop and master mental control. Sports psychology is a large field requiring many years of study. In climbing, especially climbing competitions, routes are designed at the peak of a climber's ability. This information is not all-inclusive and is intended to provide a general overview of gaining mental control to improve your performance and spark your further personal study.

Develop Self-confidence to Enhance Mental Control

A climber's self-confidence is probably the greatest asset in developing your mental control over your body's reaction to stress. Self-confidence doesn't happen by simply deciding to be confident - it takes a deliberate and planned effort. Self-confidence is not a matter of "fooling" yourself into believing something false. Just the opposite - it is based on accurately knowing yourself. Self-confidence allows you to take appropriate risks and climb at the top of your ability.

The most effective way to build self-confidence is by setting performance-based goals. Set attainable and measurable performance goals and make sure you achieve them. Then set new goals and achieve them. Through this process you learn your own abilities. By knowing your own capabilities you avoid surprise failure and develop confidence in yourself. Believing in yourself helps you develop mental control
Your goals to attain mental control should be measured in terms of performance, not achievement. An example of an achievement goal is: "win the competition". This is not a good performance based goal. Examples of performance based goals are: "Increase pull-ups by 1 per week"; or, "increase endurance training by 1 minute per session"; or "increase dead-hang time by 10 seconds per week", etc. There are many aspects to achieving mental control to improve your climbing performance. Develop as many performance based goals as you can manage. Design your goals to be achievable within about a week or two weeks time. This will give you a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and help you develop a keen sense of your own abilities.

Mental Imagery (described below) is also useful for building self-confidence and control. This is useful if your lack of self-confidence or other "mind game" factors are interfering with your ability to achieve a goal. However, a note of caution. It is possible to use imagery to improperly build a level of over-confidence. Using imagery without rationally considering your actual abilities can lead to over-confidence and unexpected failure, which will cause a loss of confidence. Over-confidence is just as bad as a lack of confidence - maybe worse. Over confidence does not lead to mental control, it is a misreading of your own ability. If you are over-confident you will not give the climb 100% effort and may lead you to attempt something that you are not capable of doing. It can lead to an unexpected failure, which can destroy your self-confidence.
Self-confidence should come from a realistic understanding of your abilities based on incrementally achieving performance-based goals.

Mental Control using Imagery and Positive Thinking

Using imagery, you imagine smooth controlled climbing, proper rests, shaking, clipping, breathing, good technique, etc… all the way to the top. Imagery can and should be used during previews, before a difficult move, at night in bed, waiting in a line at the store, on a bus or passenger in a car (but not as driver). Think and imagine yourself climbing and moving like a climber you admire - or visualize yourself making a particular move. Visualize the feeling, momentum, and balance. Visualize only correct climbing technique and form. Gain mental control of yourself and the climbing route by focusing and creating positive mental imagery.
Visualizing reinforces climbing movement in your mind - so use it to reinforce good movement. Visualizing is training for your mind. Do do not dwell on bad moves. Analyze what went wrong then visualize the correct movement from the beginning of the sequence through the end of the section. Imagine the feeling of the holds/rock, your momentum, your breathing, where you chalk up - be as vivid with your imagery as you can. It is a skill that needs to be developed just like physical skill.

Imagery can also be used to help you relax and lower your stress level. This can be helpful in competitions or in many other situations in climbing. Imagine a peaceful, relaxing, happy or fun place. Make it as vivid as possible by visualizing every detail, the warm sun, feeling of joy, smells… every detail that goes with your "happy place". Use this imagery technique to reduce stress and maintain mental control.
Imagery can be used to push your limits, for specific moves, for general technique, to break through a mental block, to reduce stress, or to build up your self-confidence. Be aware that imagery can be used to an unhealthy extreme. Use imagery and positive thinking within realistic boundaries to push yourself to new heights and break through barriers. This is an effective tool when used correctly.

Mental Control over Doubt and Negative Thoughts

In the same way positive imagery "teaches" your mind through a visualized reinforcement, negative thoughts also teach your mind - the wrong thing. Get control of your mental thoughts. Make a conscious point not to allow negative thoughts to dominate. Answer negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Sometimes negative thoughts are difficult to get out of your head. I may help to physically speak the positive out loud several times. If you are in a crowd or around other people do it sub-vocally. It is a stronger reinforcement when spoken. Respond to negative thoughts with positive thoughts based on clear and rational assessments of your known ability.

Become aware of your thoughts. Normally thoughts will come and go and you will hardly notice. Watch for feelings of inadequacy, criticism, feelings of stress, worry. Awareness is the first step to gaining more mental control. As you become more aware of your thoughts you can learn to control them.
But how do you not think of something? If someone says "do not think of a red balloon", you immediately visualize a red balloon whether you want to or not. Not thinking of something is more difficult than thinking about something. When you get a thought that is counter productive, make a conscious effort to visualize it's opposite. Speak the opposite if possible, or at least speak it sub-vocally. For example: "red balloon": now think of a green balloon and say "green balloon" out loud. It is now green. Use this technique to conquer doubt, negative thoughts and reinforce your good technique, confidence, and positive self-image. You are what you think, so think what you want yourself to be.


These are simple tools you can use to help break through mental barriers, maintain mental control under stressful situations and build new self-confidence. It may well take you to a new level of climbing. Top athletes, coaches and trainers in every sport agree the proper application of sports psychology provides a significant boost in performance level. Self-confidence will help you climb at your best. Using mental imagery and controlling doubt will help you press through mental barriers. Developing these simple techniques are as important as your physical training.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Previewing a Route in a Comp...

Although this is geared towards a competitor standing at the bottom of a route, about to have the route preview, almost any of it can be adapted to normal onsite "route reading"... hopefully you can take something from it and use it for your own climbing...

Tara & Molly at the EYC Ratho 2011

Previewing a route properly can mean the difference between moving smoothly through a section and wasting energy matching hands, searching for feet or down climbing to fix sequences. This is a skill and one that should be practiced. There are several things to consider when previewing a route such as rests, clipping stance, cruxes, alternate sequences, pacing, and distances between holds.

Here are a few tips that will help when previewing:

• Know the Start of the Route - One of the worst things that can happen is to not know where the start of your route is, or to preview the wrong route. Make sure you know where you have to start and that you are looking at the correct route. If no one else from your category is there then chances are you are not looking at the right route.

Some competitions do not specify the starting holds and you can start on what you can reach. Make sure that you choose starting holds that will put you in the correct sequence.

• Work Down Through Confusing Sequences - If you get to a section of the route where you can not determine the sequence look ahead and find the next hold that you know how to grab and work backwards. For instance if you find a confusing sequence and you see that five feet above is a hold that you know you have to grab with your left hand then you can find the previous hold that your right hand would have to be on and work the sequence down. Once you have worked back down through the sequence go back up it and continue on the route.

• Judge the Distance Between Holds - Know the distance between holds and what you are capable of. If you know a wall has 4'x8' panels or 3'x3' panels then it is much easier to measure the distance between holds, look at the panel sizes and approximate the distance. This will help when looking to skip a move or when you are worried about a large move.

• Walk Around - Most routes at larger competitions will be on very high steep walls. It is almost impossible to see the entire route from one location. Walk around and look at the route from numerous angles.

This does more than just allow you to see the whole route. If you are wondering how large or incut a hold is then stand back and get a di_ernt look at it, or walk way off to the side and try to see behind it. How much you can walk around will depend on the size of the area that you are given for the preview. In some competition you may be allowed to walk into the crowd or at least ask them to move.

• Dance the Sequence - When you are previewing it may help to move your hands and feet in the sequence that your are previewing. There are two reasons for this one is to help you memorize the sequence and the other is to make sure that you are not missing any moves. by moving your body in sequence of the route you will be able to remember the moves easier in isolation, similar to dancing. To be told a dance and then have to do it is alot harder than doing the dance as you are learning it.

• Talk to Others - Other competitors in your category will have Different opinions on sequences. This may be due to height, strengths or perceptions on the quality of the holds. In addition some people are better at reading a sequence that others. Talk to others and figure out what they are doing. It may be that you are reading it wrong or that you are assuming a hold is better than it is. This will also help so that when you go back to isolation you have the same terms for holds.

• Identify Crux Clips and Sequences - If you can identify the crux of a route from the ground then that will allow you to get set up for it better. Cruxes are not necessarily moves but can be clips as well. If you identify a crux clip then you can decide where the best place to clip it will be. It may be that you have to climb past it a little ways before clipping, or you may have to reach way up to clip it to avoid clipping in the middle of the crux.

• Plan Your Pace - It is just as important to identify the easy sections of a route as it is to see the cruxes. If you can spot the easier moves then you will know to move slower, chalk up and rest through these sections. You will also know where to move quickly to avoid wasting energy fooling around in the harder sections. Practice this on routes that you are onsighting. Try and move slow through the easy sections and quickly through the harder ones.

• Helpful Instruments - IFSC rules state that you are allowed to use any non electronic device to help preview or record the route. Basically this means that you can sketch the route or use binoculars to help preview the route. It is probably best to practice sketching a route numerous times at home or in local competitions before doing this at a large competition. It can take a long time to sketch an entire route. Drawing out small sections to discuss with others may help though.

• Use Your 40 Seconds - Before stepping onto the route you are given 40 seconds to do whatever you want. It is best if you get into a routine where you do the same thing every competition but here are a few suggestions.

1. Look at the confusing sequences. Chances are you have talked to someone in isolation about these sequences so make sure that what you decided to do will actually work.

2. Look at the first few moves. Make sure that you know the firstmoves on the route. You can get very nervous on a route if you do not know the sequence leaving the ground.

3. Massage your forearms and chalk up. Just stand there looking at the route and keeping your forearms loose and relaxed.

4. Be focused. Do what you have to do in order to be focused. This will be different for different people so try and perfect this at local competitions.

5. It also helps to be able to adapt on a route. If the sequence you saw in preview will not work you should be able to identify this on the route and quickly change your sequence to a better more efficient one. To do this it helps to always be looking two or three moves ahead. If you know you have to get your left hand on a hold that is a couple of moves away then you know that you must climb a certain sequence that will end with you left hand on that hold.

A good drill for this is to get on routes that you would normally onsight and not preview. Every move look ahead and call out your next two moves. This forces you to be looking ahead and constantly knowing the next few moves without knowing them from the ground.