4 Tricks to Overcome Your Fear of Falling
If you've ever felt like a fear of falling is holding you back from climbing through hard cruxes of routes or problems, you're not alone!
Fear of falling is something that all climbers, even those with years of experience, manage regularly. It can be one of the most scary parts of climbing. However, falling is a part of climbing and learning how to take practice falls is a skill that should be practiced.
First, it teaches you to trust the system (the rope, the draws, your belayer). Secondly, practice falls teach you the mechanics of falling so that when a fall is taken unexpectedly, your body will revert back to what you've practiced. The keys are to be relaxed and to focus on your body positioning. Avoid locking out your legs and arms or having your limbs be too limp when you let go (this leads to the climber flailing and flopping into the wall).
When you practice falling, try to keep your feet on the wall as long as possible. This will put you in a seated position with knees bent and ready to brace for impact.
And as always, make sure you are communicating with your belayer. Before you even touch the wall, make sure your belayer (and you) have passed your lead climb and belay checks. Now is also a good time to let your partner know that you're planning on practicing falls.
Check out our video for more tips!
Still nervous to let go? Here are 4 quick tips to overcome your fear of taking lead falls, straight from one of our staff:
- Choose carefully: Consider your surroundings before taking practice falls. Are there people below you or on the next route you may fall on? Are you on a slab route? Are there roofs, volumes ledges or other features on the route that you should avoid? Is there risk of a ground fall? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, wait for a better time or a different route.
Start small: You don't need to start by taking the whip at the top. Start small. When you're lead climbing, climb to a clip greater than mid-height of the wall, clip in, and take a fall when the clip is at your waist. For the next practice fall, make an extra move and then let go. Then, a couple of moves and let go.
Touch and go: When you're afraid of falling, sometimes it's incredibly hard to let go of that hold. Instead of grabbing the hold and letting go, identify a hold above you and simply touch it and fall.
Breathe: We've all been there...you're in the middle of a route, all of a sudden your focus leaves and all you can think about are the what ifs. 'What if my foot pops?' 'What if I get cruxed out?' 'What if I just let go?'
Instead of focusing on the what if's, focus on your breath. Breath queues our body to be tense or relaxed. Breathing well leads to composure, confidence, creative thinking, and effective problem solving vs the alternative which can lead to feeling panicky and making poor decisions. While you're preparing to fall, take a slow, deep belly breath or two to relax your muscles and calm your mind.