Learn how flow training can improve your climbing ability.
By Camille King and The Flow Centre™
I was delighted when Cameron Norsworth, training coach from the Flow Centre in Perth, Australia, invited me to be part of a group of elite climbers selected for a case study on flow training.
Initially, I didn’t know what the flow mindset was and it is thanks to the study that I learned more about it.
“Flow is the optimal mental state that produces performance, creativity, decision-making and innovation.”
Flow is a psychological state we enter during our peak experiences and is behind many of the greatest athletic performances. It is the state when we perform at our best and feel our best.
As part of the study, the climbers were asked to complete the same indoor climbing route twice a week. We timed ourselves, and then completed a questionnaire straight after each climb. The questions focused on our performance and our flow state. We were also asked to rate our overall climb. As weeks progressed, we were provided with training and individual coaching sessions on flow.
Throughout this experience, I learned some great tips on how to train your mind to get into and maintain the flow state. I thought I’d share the ones that have been most valuable to me.
- Motivation to perform. For me, motivation to perform is the biggest contributor to get me into a flow state, i.e. the desire to get to the top of the route. When the motivation is missing, my performance suffers. When the motivation is at its best and I truly want to reach the top, I’m enjoying the moment and give it my all.
- Total Focus. Secondly, finding focus is key to get me in the right state of mind. I need to completely shut out the world around me. For example, I need to ignore other climbers watching or shouting tips during a training session (sorry, I know you’re only trying to help). This is especially true during a climbing competition when I find the audience very unnerving and it makes me anxious. I need to completely zone out my surroundings and forget about my ego, so I can totally concentrate on the task at hand.
- Be in the Present. To reach and maintain flow, I need to be completely focused on the present moment. I can’t be thinking about anything other than each move as it unfolds. If I’m already thinking about reaching the top whilst I’m only halfway up, my mind is not in the present.
- Challenging Route. The climb has to be challenging enough for me to get into the flow state. The warm-up or an easy climb is not motivating enough for me to really be in the flow.
- Physical Readiness & Self belief. I’ve found that my perception of my physical fitness and readiness to climb a route has an impact on my ability to reach and maintain the flow state. If I feel physically ready and capable, then I feel in control and there are no limits.
- Fear of falling. When I’ve reached the flow state, I am so focused on each move that there is no holding back and I forget about the fear of falling (even in the dreaded overhangs!).
With Cameron’s help, I have come up with my climbing mantra, which I now repeat to myself at the start of each climb—and sometimes in the middle of it:
Repeating the mantra in my mind has been very effective to help me get into the flow; everything seems to come together and I perform to my highest standard.
To conclude, my personal results from the route I climbed during the study are:
- Route: 14m 6C+ route
- 1st attempt completed in 9 minutes, 23seconds
- After receiving training and coaching on flow, I completed the climbing route on my 15th attempt in 2 minutes, 10 seconds.
You might be thinking that, even without the coaching, my performance would have improved naturally by the experience gained by every attempt and the increased memorization of the moves. However, we didn’t start the flow training and coaching until our performances had stalled and we weren’t climbing faster at each attempt.
Finally, being part of the study and learning about applying flows for sporting performance was definitely eye-opening. It was a great opportunity for me in the pursuit of following my passion for the sport and performing the best I can.
These techniques can be applied to any experiences in life. I’m also currently working on applying these techniques to my running and learning to find the flow state during a run.
Do you want to learn more about flow? Mesa Rim, in partnership with the Flow Centre, will be hosting two clinics on the subject of flow.
Perform Under Pressure at Work
Learn to apply the principles of flow to better manage work-related stress. For only one day in North America, sports psychologist and Performance Director for The Flow Centre™, Cameron Norsworthy, MSc, 2017 World Tour Champion skier, Lorraine Huber and world renowned rock climber, Hazel Findlay will share the skills and techniques they use to deal with high-pressure situations and deliver high-performance outcomes.
Date and time: Saturday, August 12, 9am-3pm
Location: Meet at the Mesa Rim CoWorking Center
Cost: $250 (includes lunch)
For more info or to register, click here.
How to Manage Your Fear of Falling
One of the biggest obstacles that prevents climbers from optimal performance is the fear of falling. In this clinic, sports psychologist and Performance Director for The Flow Centre™, Cameron Norsworthy, MSc, and world renowned rock climber, Hazel Findlay, will teach you about flow and how to apply a flow mindset when you think about falling. And you’ll be ready should the inevitable occur–Hazel will explain and demonstrate effective fall practices.
Date and time: Sunday, August 13, 9am-12:30pm
Location: Mesa Rim Mission Valley
Cost: $125/members, $150/guests
For more info or to register, click here.
The Flow Centre is a research, training and coaching organization dedicated to understanding and teaching how flow enhances performance, creativity, decision-making, innovation and well-being.