6 Tips to Overcome Self-Doubt and Become a Better Climber

“Positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.”

Shiv Khera

One thing that most professional climbers have in common is very optimistic self-belief. They believe they can climb any boulder put in front of them in four minutes. They believe they can tweak their training to push their already peak physical capabilities further. They believe they can be the best in their city, in their country, in the world.

Most of us will never be, and never want to be, professional athletes. But most of us DO want to continue to progress and push the boundaries of our own abilities. And the first step is belief.

What if you believe you can climb that 5.11+ at the gym?
What if you believe you can boulder with the “strong” climbers?
What if you believe you can overcome that fear of falling on lead?
What if you believe you can?
What if.. what if… what if…

Ok, but how do you stop the self-doubt and start the belief?

Challenge yourself, but start small. We all need to get out of our comfort zones. Climbing the same grade (because you know you can) or the same style of route will never make you a better climber. You know the old adage about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Yep, that applies. Here are a few practical tips that will make you a stronger climber, physically and mentally:

1) Mix up your climbing group. Climbing with new people will change the way you see the route or problem and you’ll inevitably learn new techniques. Plus, community is one of the best parts of climbing. 

2) Climb with someone who is stronger than you. Stronger climbers can be a lot of help with understanding challenging moves and sequences. Don’t forget almost every strong climber has been a weak climber at some point. There’s no judgment.

3) Break down your climbing project into manageable bits. Think about every foot position and hand sequence. What are the moves that are shutting you down? Where do you need to try the hardest and where can you catch a breath to recover? Be able to visualize every move.

4) Start training based on your weaknesses. If you are strong on jugs, but struggling with crimps; start working on finger strength. If small holds are no problem, but big open hand positions are super hard; work on your pinch and shoulder strength.

5) Go to a yoga class. Most of us could use a little more mobility in our lives, not to mention injury prevention benefits. Find a class that you can fit into your regular routine.

6) Try something new. Learn a new skill. Learn to lead climb. Take your friend up on that invitation to climb outside. We limit ourselves all the time by thinking we’re not boulderers or not sport climbers, or not good enough to train, etc.

If you don’t feel like you’re ready to self-analyze or just want some more guidance, work with a coach. Zenith climbing coaches offer one-on-one sessions to help you achieve those goals. You’ll see gains in strength and confidence after just a few sessions. You can find more info here.

Lastly and most importantly, stop the self-doubt, limiting beliefs and DO THE THING.


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