You can work on becoming a better climber while you're at the wall by keeping these simple tips in mind.
1. Climb with People Who Are Better Than You
Going climbing with people who are better than you can help you improve your own skills in a number of ways. Just by watching skilled climbers, you get a visual lesson in what good technique looks like. Take a stab at these techniques when it's your turn to get on the wall. If you find yourself stuck on a move, a better climber can give you advice on how to get past it. Climbers with a higher skill level can also give you feedback after you finish a route so you know what you need to work on when you jump on the next one. When you go climbing with better rock climbers, you are also given the chance to try difficult routes on top rope. This allows you to try routes slightly above your skill level with minimum risk.
2. Climb with People Who Are Worse Than You
Wait, what? I know what I just said, and I'm not flip-flopping. It's good to balance climbing with people more skilled than you and climbing with people who are less skilled than you or at a similar level. This tip is especially important when you start leading routes. Setting up a climb is scary. If there's a better climber in your crew that you can fall back on, it's easy for you to give up and have that person lead the route. But take this person out of the picture and you are made more accountable. Sometimes knowing that you can only rely on yourself is the mental boost you need to push yourself further.
3. Be Smart with Injuries
Achy elbows, shoulders, fingers and other extremities are very familiar to rock climbers. It's tempting to push through these injuries, but sometimes doing so can take you out of the game for even longer than if you would have stopped when your body told you to. You can't get better at climbing if you can't climb. As with any sport, it's important to start slow and give your body a chance to warm up. Stretching and starting with easy, warm-up routes can help you prevent injuries. But if you do find yourself experiencing pain, take some time off to get healthy.
4. Climb with an Encouraging Partner
Choosing a climbing partner is almost as important as choosing a life partner. Picking someone you trust is a given, but choosing someone who is encouraging is also important. If you are nervous or frustrated on a route, would you rather have a partner who cheers you on or who indulges your negativity? Having a partner who encourages you to push yourself and who is genuinely excited about your achievements will help bring your climbing skills to the next level.
5. Climb Consistently
Just with any sport, rock climbing requires practice. The more often you climb, the quicker you'll improve. This doesn't mean you need to climb every day, but getting on the wall once a week or once every other week is better than climbing sporadically a handful of times each year. If you don't always have a partner available, head to the climbing gym. Some climbing gyms have self-belay devices, but bouldering works just as well to keep your technique and muscles from getting rusty.
6. Train Your Brain to be Positive
Rock climbing is just as much of a mental sport as it is a physical one. It's easy to get into a negative mindset when you're doing something that is difficult and a little frightening at the same time. Next time you're struggling on the wall and feel yourself start to spiral into a world of negativity, stop. Train your brain not to go there. Staying positive will keep you in the frame of mind you need to push yourself and improve. This isn't an easy task, but preventing yourself from giving up on the wall will ultimately make you a better climber.
What has helped you improve your climbing skills? Let us know in the comments!