Monday, December 3, 2012

Precompetitive Anxiety in Climbing: "Redpoint Anxiety"

Versión en español (Original Spanish published in 21 May 2009)

Imagine that you are working or onsighting a route that will be your new maximum grade:
How do you manage those attempts?
Have you ever felt that you fell because you couldn't control your anxiety?
Reversely, have you sent a route because you managed to stay focused and motivated and performed at your 100%?
How significant is that particular try or redpoint to you?
Are there any thougts or external factors that make you more tense? Do you know how to identify them when they appear?
What consequences does anxiety have over your performance?
Do you have any strategies to mitigate or take advantage of that tension?
The society we live in defines success as realizing a concrete result or obtaining certain status or tangible goods: earning the right kind of money, getting some job position, buying a house or driving certain car...
In sports this translates into winning/losing terms, an this way victory is demanded for fulfilling some political, financial, social or even emotional agenda for those who seek social recognition. Failing that, scholarships are withdrawn, coaches are fired, and, even worse, the word failure is brought up. Soccer and olympic athletes are obvious examples.

Training for the sake of self-improvement does not have the same appeal. For example, a climber can feel compelled to climb certain grade, achieving some result in competition or doing some renowned testpiece.
The problem is that all this pressure leads many athletes to -mistakenly- believe that they need to prepare their mind for maximum performance. In fact, what is really needed more often than not, is keeping at bay that pressure and anxiety.

A certain degree of acitvation is good for performance, but the key is determining what our right level of activation is, because an imbalance in this factor often becomes a problem. Actually, one of the more frequent causes that athletes report for not being able to reach their full potential is the difficulty of coping with competitive anxiety.
Assuming this approach, what we really need many times is to prepare our minds to avoid instability.

There are climbers who get to the crux and blank out, or get too tense and miss, that get distracted, or picture themselves failing and fall after reaching without conviction for the next hold. They often send the route when they feel very tired, or just want to "clean the route" or "train" in the route. They have unconsciously used an strategy for climbing with less pressure, and it has worked for them.

During the next entries we will talk about the perception and correct channeling of anxiety, the most common sources of stress, effective methods when facing a challenging route or a competition, and how all of this is linked to self-confidence and performance.


Precompetitive Anxiety in Sport Climbing: Interpreting your "Redpoint Anxiety"
Redpoint Anxiety in Sport Climbing: What does stress you? (I)
Redpoint Anxiety in Sport Climbing: What does stress you? (II)
Redpoint Anxiety in Sport Climbing: Coping Strategies (I)
Redpoint Anxiety in Sport Climbing: Coping Strategies (II)
Redpoint Anxiety in Sport Climbing: Coping Strategies (III)