Fear of falling
Probably the greatest aspect in climbing that holds back most people, the fear of falling. Where the feeling of fear prevents us from trying moves where we think we may fall off, instead prefer to downclimb 4-5 moves to the safety of a tight rope, as an example.
We train physically, technique and skills, and expect to be able to deal with falling straight off, and do not practice it. Or know how to practice it. Whether you learn skills and technique on a course, or from friends, we have this expectation to be able to deal with falling form a great height.
Why? There are no training courses for this, or most coaches do not have the information on how to teach this. Just like expecting the day after you pass your driving test to be able to drive an F1 car, or expecting after a few sessions being able to drop into a big half pipe with a skateboard. All unrealistic expectations. Why do we expect to be able to cope with sometimes extremely high levels of fear in falling, going from 0 to 100mph.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Just like learning to ride a bike, we start slowly and a little at a time. Even when we are first cycling by ourselves, it still looks like we may fall off. Every time we go out on our bike we get a little better. This is exactly the same in falling in climbing. We start small, and build this up slowly over time. If we push to hard too soon, this can have the opposite effect, and leave us traumatised to never return to climbing. Or even unable to push our own boundaries, and staying within our comfort zone.
The fear of falling can be a real hindrance in our climbing performance and enjoyment. It is a built-in mechanism with its sole purpose to preserve our life. And falling within climbing is something we need to build up slowly over time, and desensitise ourselves to.
What can we do about it? To gain a better understanding of fear, and how it manifests in the mind/brain and what we can do about it, the book “Climbing psychology” does this really well. To get your copy, follow the link below, we ship all across the globe.