I must admit that if this blog appears familiar its because I wrote it earlier in the year before my site got hacked! As I’m about to launch some workshops next months about the psychology of climbing I thought you might like a recap!
OK, so you have a fear of falling, which is a problem when your sport involves falling sometimes, especially to improve! Look at any blog on the interweb and there are usually two trains of thought on how to get over this fear:
1) ‘Man up’ and take a screamer (known as flooding)
2) Lots of fall practice starting gradually taking short falls and over a period of time building up to larger falls (graded exposure).
To be honest both can work but the usual (and probably the best) option for most people is option 2. However, what happens when you’ve tried fall practice and nothing seems to be changing or you get worse? Have you got to a point on the wall where the fear takes over and no amount of rationalisation or persuasion from climbing partners has any effect?
It could be worth seeking advice from a climbing coach with knowledge and experience of working with climbers with this fear or perhaps an NLP/Hypnotherapy Practitioner or Sports Psychologist with knowledge of climbing. Before you turn off at this point hear me out! Hypnotherapy, for example, isn’t it really about making you dance like a chicken… In a therapeutic rather than entertainment context a good Clinical Hypnotherapist can help you to identify potential root causes of your fear and can work with you by changing negative unwanted behaviour and ways of thinking to ones which are more useful to you.
On a practical front if you want to try things for yourself I would suggest the following:
- Think about what you enjoy about climbing and why it’s important to you (remember this when you ever get really frustrated!)
- Relax before you climb, take a few deep breaths and get into a focused state, take time to look at the climb and imagine climbing it – where’s the crux, how will you position yourself?
- Start the climb positively – try to increase your focus, each time you climb how focused were you out of 10 (with 0 being no focus to 10 totally focused). Try to increase this number each time (if you’re focused you’re less likely to be scared!).
- Be aware of your behaviour, thinking (+ or -), physiological reactions (increased heart rate and respiration, sweaty palms, Elvis Legs), emotional response (fear, panic).
- Try thinking positively (I can do this!), relax your body, where possible, and take controlled breaths – even during a climb. If you feel panic and fear increasing try to use key words “relax”, “focus” or “STOP!” etc.
- Think about what it means to you to get over your fear. What happens after your fear is reduced? Fear is likely to have stopped you from taking risks and pushing your grades so will you feel pressure to achieve new goals? What happens if you don’t achieve these goals?
- Set goals for now and the future, where do you want to go with your climbing and how do you plan to get there?
Try my above ‘top tips’ and please let me know how you get on. If you still feel that you’d like additional help I can provide 1:1 coaching (face to face, phone or email) or I run workshops from time to time (see my news section for updates).