How many times have you said “I can’t do that move” or “I’ll never send that problem”?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably said it more times than you can remember.
How many times have you given a half-hearted burn on a climb because you don’t expect to be able to do it? How many times have you not tried hard because you think something is over your head?
If you’re like me, more often than you’d care to admit.
But what would happen if you actually started believing you could do these things?
If you’re like me, you started climbing harder and more consistently. It was refreshing and surprising.
As climbers, we put so much emphasis on physical strength – how long can you hold a lock off, how many moves can you do on the system board, what’s the hardest you’ve sent, on and on and on.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we often neglect how important our mental game is to our performance.
When I was in Yosemite this past Fall, I overheard someone say “that’s a belief sloper – you really have to believe you’re going to stay on it.” I thought it was a funny thing to say, but the more I considered it, the more accurate I realized it was.
How many belief slopers do we come across inside and outside? How many belief crimps? Or perhaps more accurately, belief moves?
As I’ve started working on harder climbs, I’ve encountered more moves that look impossible. And sometimes when I first try them, they really do feel impossible.
Lately, I’ve been trying to consciously approach these moves and climbs with a positive mental attitude. Or, at the very least, not a defeatist attitude. Combine this with trying hard, and I’ve found that I can surprise myself pretty frequently.
Last week, when I wrote about trying hard, I said I would connect the dots, so here we go. It is really difficult to put forth a complete and total effort on a climb when you don’t think it will go. We get psyched on climbs because we believe we can send them. When something seems impossible, we are much more likely to never touch it again or not even try in the first place.
Whether it’s an individual move or an entire climb, we close ourselves off to so much by thinking “no way.” All it takes is a little bit of positive thinking and real effort, and you could be sending your hardest problem ever or onsighting a rad line.
This change in mindset doesn’t necessarily come easily, going from glass half-empty to half-full. But it’s a pretty simple way to improve your climbing. Not by making you any physically stronger than you were before, but rather by allowing you to climb to your very physical limit, something we all fail to do at one point or another.
Getting to a move and telling yourself “not possible” almost guarantees failure. Getting to a move and telling yourself “I can do this” in no way guarantees success. But by keeping a positive mental attitude, we greatly improve our chances of success.
I know that there really are certain moves and certain climbs out there that I’m not capable of doing right now and that I may never be capable of doing. That’s the way it goes, but there’s a difference between being a pessimist and realistically knowing my limits.
Can I really tell which climbs I can’t do just by looking at them from the ground? Can I be sure I won’t stick that move just by looking at it? No, I most likely cannot. Therefore, my goal is to be game to try any and every climb, tell myself it’s possible, and really go for it. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? Why not pull on your shoes, slap that belief sloper, and surprise yourself when you crush?
Thanks for reading, stay stoked and climb on!