A Strong Mind for A Strong Climb

Posted by Adisal Tjung on

The first bouldering competition, Gravical 2017, may have ended but our
team is more psyched than ever for upcoming competitions this year! There are
many pieces of advice from climbing gurus on “how to climb better” or “how to
prepare for competitions” all over the Internet and here is our take on it
especially the subject concerning mental training. Though its benefits are not
tangible, it is, in fact, equally as important as physical training. Some refer to
mental strength as the differentiating factor of an average and a great climber. It
is also the primary reason why a climber may not perform to the best of his/her
abilities, as shown in training. Hence, for those who are new to climbing
competitions or have yet to be used to the mental pressures of competitions,
here are some tips we, TeamNUS girls climbing team, practice.

‘Pancake’ training:
About a month before Gravical, our Coach got us started on the ‘pancake’
training to prepare for our mental game to plow through hard moves in
competitions. Why ‘pancake'? Apparently, this kind of training caused our
seniors to ‘flop’ onto the mats and stack like pancakes in exhaustion, dread, and
sweet despair; to engage in ‘pancake’ training is to force oneself to do hard
moves one after the another, to be confident in pulling off such moves even if it
might look impossibly hard. During our ‘pancake’ training phase, our Coach
would give us difficult routes that we would have trouble finishing (much less
flashing). Our routes were varied - from slabs, to flat wall to inclined - which
helped us in tackling our weaknesses and further improved our strengths.

Flash training:
We have flash training sessions when our competition date is nearing. This is
to prepare us mentally to try our hardest on every move and make our first
attempt our best attempt. Our Coach would set a route and each of us would only
get one try, yes just one, per route. No "one more time please!" Even if we fail at a
dicey starting move or a dyno, we have to move on to try our next route. Through
such training, we learn to plan our route and learn to read micro-beta, which are
crucial things to remember before we attempt each route in a competition. From
experience, sometimes one attempt away from even a bonus can cost you a place
in finals! So make every attempt count.

Last but not least, here are some tips or our own ways to prepare for the
competition, from the TeamNUS climbing girls!


(Photo by: Alexus Goh)

“During isolation, before I go out for my climb, I make sure I do my warm-up
routine. It's the same routine every competition that I've created and corrected
over many competition experiences I've had, which I think really works for me. I
do jumping jacks or skip ropes, stretch, then do various moves on the warm-up
wall. I'm usually plugged into music and I block everything out. I don't talk to the
rest of the competitors. Sometimes I appear super unfriendly during isolation
because I look very serious but that's just me trying to get my game face on.
Being sure of my routine and following it through puts me at ease because it
makes me feel like I'm in control.
When I am out for my climb already, I do the same thing - I block the crowd and
the noise, though it is a lot harder because I don't have my music with me
anymore. I just focus on listening to myself breathe; it helps! I also talk to myself
a lot when my nerves are starting to get to me, repeating "I can do this. It's okay. I
got this."”


(Photo by: Ang Ching Siang)

“I used to think preparing myself before a comp meant wearing an apparel,
having a routine and adhering to it. But in the end, I realized all this was all just
an element to the whole concept of a mental game. At the core of it, to just give
your all & do your best! A nap before the comp also does good work :D”


(Photo by: Ang Wee Pin)

“Before I climb, I tend to chit chat with my friends to distract myself and at the
same time analyze the beta and the order of routes I want to attempt. I would
also try to replicate specific moves in the comp at the warm up wall (e.g. hold
specific tiles/ sit in/ 1-leg squats).

During the competition itself, I try to think that I'm at training, so the pressure
won't be too high and ask my friends in the same detail for the beta. When time
is running out, I remind myself that I only need one good try to send the problem
and it doesn't take more than a minute!”


(Photo by: Ang Wee Pin)

“Before competition: I usually come down early for registration so that I can
watch other categories climb. Not only can I watch the way others climb, I can
also cheer for them to get psyched for my own climbs.
During competition: taking deep calming breaths is important to me. Focus on
the current climb and forget everything else (except the time of course)”

Yun Jie:

(Photo by: Ang Wee Pin)

“Guess it's to have the mindset that the reason why I’m competing is not to win
but to have fun, enjoy the routes and most importantly, do my best.”


(Photo by: Ang Wee Pin)
“My way of keeping calm and composed before comps is to eat my favourite
foods, for example, ice cream. Keeps me happy and makes me more chill before a
comp. On a side note, post comp ice cream is also important for cool down
because it helps cope with disappointment.”

We hope that you’ll find these tips useful for your own training!

Article by: Celine Josephine Foo, Florence Loy Ru Yan, Jeanette Ng, Park Ji Min, Lim
Chen Yue Sabrina, Verosil Patrice Claire Bayo
30 January 2017

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