Hey everyone, so I’ve made this post on flow to enable us to have better control of our minds when climbing through a deeper understanding of our phychology.
I first performed this as a speech to my old performance squad and they all got great value from it, by sharing im hoping it can help you in your climbing goals too!
- Concious vs. Unconcious
- Explicit Monitoring
- Building Rituals
- Never before seen ‘Flow Program’ (you dont want to miss!)
So some days I climb well everything’s cool, and sometimes I just climb badly, make mistakes and really feel like I’ve underperformed, and if you have been working really hard for a competition or big event, that sucks.
Physically I was fine, perhaps even more prepared than usual, but something was off and my mind was not in the right place to perform.
Does this sound Familiar?
This could come from the external pressures of the competition environment, or it could come from inside, a high expectation you’ve set yourself.
We have all has those moments, right?
Let’s start with when things have gone well. ‘when was your mind your biggest strength in a competition?’
did you feel calm, prepared or have you just had a laugh with your mates?
My best competition performances were always linked to the most light hearted atmospheres. i understand now it allows me to relax and dully focus on efficiency of movement instead of getting ahead of myself and worrying about finishing the route.
Now let’s think about the last time we had a sub optimal competition experience,
Were we anxious, under a lot of pressure or did we feel unprepared?
My worst climbing experiences allways had a tinge of nerves to them, i couldnt manage my expectations or i just felt completely unprepared by the situation i was in.
We all know we should think and feel our best before a competition, but what should we actually be thinking and feeling, and more importantly how do we get there?
You’ve just had a really good laugh with your mates at the crag and felt totally relaxed. In fact you didnt even care if you actually managed to climb your project that day, you are already enjoying yourself.
Then when you get on your route your suddenly overcome with some super version of yourself, free of fear and negative self talk, and you SMASH your project.
How did that happen? Why don’t I always do that?
That was More than likely flow you experienced, for whatever reason you were allowed to completely focus, your nagging conscious dissolves and you perform your best.
Flow is the mental state where your subconscious mind is allowed to take over, without being inhibited by your conscious mind, thoughts of your belayer, or oh man I am tired etc etc, you are allowed to climb your best, as its often our emotions that make us sabotage a performance and get in the way of complete focus.
Sub vs conscious
The conscious mind wanders and can often distract us. This nagging voice in our head is great critic, but gets in the way of us performing as its responsible for emotions good and bad, that stop us becoming completely immersed in the activity.
The subconscious mind is responsible for executing skills and habits on ‘autopilot mode’ this saves energy and create the greatest efficiency, as the conscious thought process is way more taxing, and slow, than the unconscious one.
removing a finger from a hot pan comes from the subconscious, we already know the burning sensation is bad, we don’t have to think about it, debating the burning sensation, we just remove our finger as a seemingly instant reaction.
Now image you touch that red hot pan, but before you remove your finger, you think to yourself, hmm my fingers burning, I should remove it!
You would destroy your finger if you held it on there the whole time your concious thought process takes!
This is why leaving climbing to the subconcious is MUCH faster and effective.
The thousands of times you have done a skill, a dead point for example, creates neural associations in the brain and transfers that skill into the unconscious mind, this makes your climbing moves efficient and fluid as you no longer have to consciously think about them.
If we underperform or feel like we had climbed badly, during a competition or when this hot climber is watching it’s because Consciously thinking about skills that are subconscious interferes with your ability to carry them out, and you end up completing the task with much less efficiency.
Another example is when your doing really well at something, so you try to do it really well, and then end up doing it badly.
Essentially, paying full attention to a skill that is subconscious will make your performance suffer.
Explicit monitoring is the theory that demonstrates how Negative emotions like anxiety or pressure make us overanalyse skills and routines, really thinking about each climbing move with the conscious mind makes our movements mechanical and inefficient, often causing us to climb badly.
You know when you need the toilet, and as you reach the bathroom, open the door and so on, you suddenly really Really need the toilet?
Your brain has associated those cues with a physical reaction and we can do the same with our own set of cues, called routines or rituals, to create that illusive flow state when we need to perform our best.
We may be able to get into the flow lead climbing or climbing with a group of friends, but as our environment changes and we deal with new stimulus like a competition or serious redpoint we can lose focus as our conscious mind is preoccupied with distracting emotions.
So how can we trigger this state of high performance?
It goes back to the brain building neural associations, like the bathroom door and needing the toilet, we can create our own cues to prompt flow.
we have to find flow state as it naturally occurs in our life. Maybe not even in climbing, if you always find flow as you listen to calm music and tidy your house, you can use that and later bring it into your climbing!
We need to create a set pattern that we carry out every time before your flow. It could be 5 minutes of stretching and sitting in silence for 5 minutes. My ritual is tying my shoes, smiling and taking three deep breaths.
you just need to carry out the same routine religiously before your naturally occurring flow, allowing your brain to make the association of your ritual, to that flow state.
Now once these triggers have been built over a few weeks or months You can take that routine into an interview or a climbing competition, and prompt that flow state.
For my FULL How to’s on Building your Ritual, Click here!
Every attempt I gave on my project was with the intention of sending, and yet still, I lacked something to actually send. Every attempt was the same, slow, on edge, almost waiting for something to go wrong
Until I implemented deep, purposeful breathing as a remedy for tunnel vision and releasing tension.
I began my latest attempt with deep meaningful breathing and as I rested there on the volume in-between cruxes, I repeated the deep breathing to reset my flow, and That attempt I smashed my highpoint and only fell 6 moves later, going for the last hold! But I don’t want to talk about that.
Alright can you all copy me one second? so breath innnnnnnnnn and outttttttttttt
Doesn’t that feel good? It makes me feel so relaxed.
Letting go of a deep breath has the phycological benefit of letting your emotions and tensions go, this way even when our flow is broken on route by a mistake or when pump is creeping in, we can get it back by releasing the worries of our conscious mind, that we know effects our flow.
For my full guide on breathing, and some other tips to INSTANTLY boost your climbing, click here.
Smiling at your partner is a part of my routine not just because im nice, maybe its actually a bit selfish.
Smiling will trick your brain into feeling relaxed and calm through body-brain suggestion. Its the same as power poses.
Even if your really stressed, smiling at someone or even to yourself before you climb will help you turn those anxious feelings into Excited ones!
Smiling is a POWERFUL auto suggeston technique, heres some more edvidence.
Before you go,
Access never before seen Flow Hack Content.
Ive linked the ‘Flow State Training Program‘ with proven 300% – 500% improvement in your Performance!
It features how to hack your flow state and enter the zone, in content found no where else on the internet…
This course gave me massive Insight recently on how i can further develop my flow for competitions and high pressure environments.
Check it out!
And finally, send
So next time you all climb, I want you to begin with your personal ritual, I recommend including 3 deep breaths and a smile into your routines.
Then begin climbing, and at each rest or before the crux, take 3 more deep breaths to reset your flow state, and send!
Thanks for reading this, i really hope i can help even one of you to improve your climbing.