I reckon about 90% of climbers will answer yes to at least some of those questions. Despite being labeled as ‘one of the boldest female climbers out there’ I have certainly answered yes to most of these questions at some point in my climbing. How are we supposed to get better if we can’t try our hardest? What’s the use in all the finger boarding if we get to the crag and we’re saying ‘take' on moves way below our physical and technical ability?
'one issue is always the head, both fear and lack of belief in going for it.’
'You can be as strong as you want but if your head’s not in it then you’ve already lost'
I recently interviewed Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, who is one of the strongest female climbers in the world right now yet she freely admits to having an irrational fear of falling when sport climbing. She has climbed really scary high balls, but she told me that she has often reversed moves instead of committing to a sequence in fear of falling, even when she knows the fall is safe. Mina has climbed 8c. It isn’t only beginner or moderate climbers who are scared of falling - I’ve seen climbers top rope 8c+ sport routes first because they don’t want to take a lead fall.
Mina is dedicated to improving her mental strength by pushing her comfort zone slowly and gently. She knows she has to make an effort to train her mind as well as her body.
Mina climbs 8c and she’s scared. Why are we scared? We’re scared because it’s biologically programmed in us to avoid heights, avoid falling, avoid exposure. However, we can make those situations safe with climbing equipment and experience and knowledge. When we’re stood on the ground we know it’s safe to fall, but when we get on the wall fear and doubt and negative internal dialogue overrides that knowledge. But with practice and experience we can make those situations that seem terrifying, feel normal.
"Physical training is ‘easy’ on the mind! Mind training is not clear cut with hard to define gains. And physical training feels good!! How many climbers train on a 50 degree board on crimps, only to gibber and scream ’TAKE' as they pass the first bolt on a 5+!!”
Mental training takes a lot more energy than physical training. But it is necessary if you want to improve and necessary if you want to get the most enjoyment out of your climbing. I don’t pretend to be especially bold and if I ever have been bold it was certainly through a lot of hard work and dedication. It wasn’t handed to me on a plate at birth. However, I was lucky to start climbing at a young age and that has definitely given me a head start. I still have to work at it though. I often engage in what I call ‘maintenance’ to make sure I’m not getting stressed in situations where I should be comfortable.
"Hi Hazel, hope you're doing well. Just thought I'd send you a quick message; redpointed my first 7a today, absolutely chuffed to bits. Everything I picked up from you in Kalymnos has been brilliant, really given me the confidence to up my game, much quicker than I was expecting, too! You can add that to your list of coaching successes.."
" I’ve just got back from one of the best climbing trips I’ve had in a long time, which was a result of Hazel’s coaching. I climbed with confidence, self-belief and pure joy! Four weeks with Hazel undid 18 months of mounting fear and I’m absolutely back where I wanted to be: loving being on rock! "
The day with Hazel was time very very well spent. By the end of the day I led a grade harder than I had previously – it was a great feeling! I’m more excited about climbing, I have a set of tools to help me push myself, my abs were killing me and I had a great day! She continues to be supportive. Couldn’t ask for anything more.
I had been struggling with lead climbing for some time and I started to look for ways to get past my plateau. My main issue was a fear of falling so I started to research that topic and I came across a podcast on trainingbeta.com’s website that featured Hazel. In the interview Hazel talked about the mental aspect of climbing and that she was going to begin coaching. I checked out her web page and what she stated about the mental aspect of climbing really resonated with me. I reached out to Hazel in hopes that she would still be taking on new clients. I was happy to hear back from her that she was and I was excited to start this part of my climbing journey.
The length of training was for 6 weeks and after a consult and skype chat we set out some goals. The focus would be on fall practice. I wasn’t sure how remote coaching would work but I was happy with the amount of communication I received from Hazel. I would go through my exercises for the week and report back to her and we would correspond through email and skype about how to move forward. Even though it was through email I felt Hazel was very attentive and supportive of my progress on the goals we outlined. I also appreciated the approach she takes to fall practice and having a gradual exposure to the practice, it really helped me ease into it.
By the end of the 6 weeks I was much more comfortable falling on lead and was able to onsight more difficult routes than I had before. I’m still working on my mental game but with the coaching I received from Hazel I feel I have a better skill set to move forward as I progress on my climbing journey.
I currently offer a wealth of coaching specialising in: fear of falling, flow, performance coaching, elite-level coaching, competition coaching and general coaching for increased performance and enjoyment. If possible I can meet you face to face, 1:1 or in groups, if not I offer remote coaching via skype or phone in addition to remote training plans. I also run workshops in indoor walls/gyms.
Let's transform your climbing experience! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgIMPORTANT: My coaching is focused on people who can already climb competently with reasonable technique, and are safe climbers. I am strictly a coach not an instructor so participants need to be experienced and able to lead and belay safely. Sport climbers, trad climbers or boulderers are all welcome.