Academy: Intentional Attention

Part of our "Toes to Knows" Climbing Academy series--covering climbing from footwork to mental preparation.

Tags: Training, Mental

This post is a bit different—I’m delving into a mental approach for training. I want to challenge you to add more of both intention and attention into your practice sessions.

I see lots of climbers that repeat the same thing every time they come to the gym. They strap on their shoes, do a few warmups, try a few harder routes, and socialize a lot. They have a lot of fun, but they end up wondering why they don’t progress quicker.

If this sounds like you, and you’re ready to move beyond the basics, then give more intention to designing good practice sessions. And during those sessions, give your attention to great execution. You can still socialize and have fun—and remember that getting better faster is way up there on the fun scale!

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Here are three great steps to get you going:

1. Set a climbing goal

Write it down. Tell a friend. Tell 10 friends. Figure out how to leverage your strengths and work on your weaknesses until nothing can hold you back from achieving that goal!

2. Intentionally design your practice sessions

  • Pick a skill you’d like to learn (this is the intention part) and spend your session giving it the attention it deserves. Practice the skill in its entirety. Learn it’s subtilties. Learn when to use it and when not to use it. Send a boulder that demands that skill. Aim for mastery. 
  • Get fit. Change up your climbing (again, intention). Challenge your body and mind with a variety of demands. Spend some time training strength and fitness rather than just climbing.

3. Start a climbing journal

  • Write down your goal. Read it before every session.
  • Write down a process you’re going to use to achieve that goal—that is, write down your intentions.
  • After your session, jot down how well you did. Note if you gave your session the attention you had planned.

If you haven’t done this before, it may sound intimidating, but if you’re reading this or you watched the video, you’re motivated enough to begin. The key is getting started—you’ll figure it out over time. 

Clarify your intentions by designing your practice sessions, the use your attention to execute that session well. Do this and you will definitely climb better!

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