The BRAVE acronym can be used as your mantra; a constant reminder to be in control. With this process, you'll be able to harness your breath to find focus. Complete this exercise in a quiet space with your eyes closed until you're comfortable with the process.
It all starts here. Controlling your breath helps regulate your body and mind for fluidity and efficiency. Take advantage of your resting time to practice your breath control so you can find rhythm on the wall. Harnessing breathing will allow you to assess situations calmly, execute movement and conserve energy.
Take full deep belly breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Count your breaths to 10 and start over. Each out breath is 1.
Breathe deeply and continuously. This will ease anxiety and keep you fully engaged. When you're engaged it is far easier to find flow of movement. For a very strenuous or core intensive move, it is okay to let out a forceful out-breath, or even a breath hold - just always make sure you return to continuous breathing. A clear example of this technique can be seen by watching Adam Ondra climb. His forceful scream assures that his body stays tight and engaged. Then he returns to deep, continuous breathe flow.
Posture is a key element that indicates confidence and stress level. We have to learn to settle into our bodies and find balance.
Relax. Let your body settle into the ground on your out-breaths and expand outward to the sky for your in-breaths. If you're seated, let your shoulders drop, rest your hands on your lap and find a comfortable position while holding aligned posture.
Before a beginning a climb stand tall and proud; chest out, shoulders back. Captain America pose. If you're on a climb, relax your grip a bit, straighten your arms and settle your weight into your toes. Bring your hips into the wall in order to give your fingers and forearms a break.
We all become stressed throughout the day. Over time this stress builds into tension. This tension building can compound ten fold while on a climb. Managing and overcoming this tension is a constant battle in our sport. Whether it be over-gripping on comfortable holds or clenching your jaw, being aware of your tension is paramount in controlling it.
As you breathe, pay attention to where you feel the breaths in your body. Breathe deeply into those areas until you begin to feel release. Notice how your body is rising toward the sky and falling into the ground.
Bring your awareness to your body. Since you are already in a more "reset" position at this point, find the areas that still feel tense or fatigued. Once you've targeted the areas of tension, engage them individually, hold for a few seconds, then release.
The ability to visualize your surroundings can be vital in memorizing sequences and finding focus. For this step, we'll learn to heighten our senses to paint a clear mental picture.
Begin to scan your body. Start from the top of your head and slowly move through all the way down to your toes. Now switch attention to the sounds around you. Hone your focus in on specific sounds. Lastly, open your eyes and slowly scan the area around you. See if you notice anything different.
Look at your climb with a curious mind. Be nonjudgemental. Assess the climb. Figure out which parts of the route may challenge you. Decide what skill sets will be most important. Scan through all of the individual holds and hand sequences. After you know your hand sequences, you can now visualize your foot placements and hip / body positions. What is going to take the most weight off your fingers and arms? Find the path of least resistance. Rehearse the moves on the ground, first with eyes open, by simulating gripping, stepping and turning. Then rehearse the climb once more with your eyes closed.
Don't fall into the mental trap of: "I'm just tired today", "this climb isn't my style", "the friction today just isn't great". There's a way to complete every climb. Find the way, solve the problem. Don't let ego win. If you find yourself making excuses, figure out why you felt that way or didn't climb well. Then fix it.
Crack a smile. Enjoy the space you're in. Be thankful you are taking time for yourself.
The opportunity to climb is a gift. Climb from a place of love and curiosity, instead of fear and ego. Ego makes excuses for failure, curiosity asks questions and solves problems.