Climbing Training Tip 10 – Visualisation

The power of visualisation lies in the fact that the mind cannot differentiate a real memory from visual images that are made up.  If you create enough visual images and store them as memories, you can fool your mind into believing that these are past memories, rather than created images.

If you still don’t get me, don’t worry, let me give you an example.  I know I have a tendency to talk in circles sometimes.  In the book called, “The Mind Gym”, the author writes about a golfer who was stuck in a POW camp for many years.  The only way he could survive the experience was to imagine himself playing golf.  He would visualise the golf course right down to the breeze that blew through his hair.  When he finally escaped from the POW camp, he played golf again only to discover that his handicap had improved despite the fact that he had not touched a golf club in years!  His improvement was due to many years of playing golf in his mind.

When I was projecting “Pear” and “Chess“, I used to visualise myself working the crux several times before I attempted it.  In fact, during the week before I nailed “Pear”, I was visualising the crux sequence even while I was at work!  So in my mind, instead of having climbed “Pear” the number of times I had done it physically, I had actually climbed the crux as many times as I had done it physically plus the number of times I completed it in my mind. 

If you had been there when I was projecting “Pear”, then you’d realise that I had actually climbed “Pear” a lot of times.  In fact, I climbed it so many times in such a short span of time that I injured my right ring finger so that was another reason why visualisation really helped.  Even if my fingers were injured, I could still climb in my head.

Another benefit of visualisation is that it reinforces to your mind and body that something is possible.  Just like when you watch another person climbing a particularly difficult route, visualisation is like watching yourself climbing that difficult route. 

In a nutshell, visualisation helps you:

  • practice climbing a route in your head when you don’t have the time to do it
  • practice climbing a route in your head even though a part of your body has been injured
  • reinforce your ability to climb a particular route


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