Mastering The Mental Game of Climbing

by Jillian Janssen and Jeff Janssen, Authors of The Climber's Journal

Mastering Your Mental Game depends largely on the ability to monitor and manage your mindset. Your brain is an extremely important climbing “muscle” that needs to be trained just like your body. Similar to the way you put your body in a position to be successful, so too must you position your mind to be successful. Your thoughts and inner dialogue play a major role in how poorly or well you climb.
Think about what your mindset looks like during your best and worst performances. By doing this, you will see there are significant differences between a Peak Performance Mindset and a Freak Performance Mindset.

Freak Performance Mindset

In a Freak Performance Mindset your mind is your biggest obstacle and enemy. Examples of thoughts in a Freak Performance Mindset likely include:

-       Negative and pessimistic thinking

-       Overthinking and paralysis by analysis

-       Getting frustrated by a hard move

-       Fear of falling and hurting yourself

-       Letting down your friends, family, and coach

All of these thoughts associated with a Freak Performance Mindset distract and disrupt you from the climbing task at hand. They cause you to stress out, tense up, be distracted, and ultimately hinder you from climbing well and reaching your goals.

Peak Performance Mindset

In contrast to the distracted and chaotic thinking of a Freak Performance Mindset, a Peak Performance Mindset is one where mind is relatively clear, calm, and confident. It is characterized by:

-     Positive and productive thoughts

-     Feeling composed and in control

-     Taking the climb one hold at a time

-     Boldly going for big moves


A major aspect of a Peak Performance Mindset is your ability to trust yourself. Rather than overthinking or stressing yourself out, you read your boulder problem or route and trust your body and training.

Clearly, there are major differences between a Freak Performance Mindset and a Peak Performance Mindset - and those differences either significantly hinder or help your climbing.

Learning how to avoid or work through a Freak Performance Mindset as well as create and sustain a Peak Performance Mindset is what mastering the mental game is all about.


Master Your Mental Game

For detailed info and a 12-module mental training program on how to master the mental game of climbing, check out our all-new Climber's Journal.


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