Learning to embrace your climbing fails will make you a better climber Blog Feature

By: Kim

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Learning to embrace your climbing fails will make you a better climber

Training for Climbing | Climbing Tips

Do you practice failing? Probably not. Let’s be honest – failure is hard for a lot of us, especially if you’ve been conditioned to think of failure as a bad thing. 

shift your perspective and embrace failure

However most life-long climbers have experienced a setback or a failure and learning to embrace them can change your climbing game! So we talked to a few people around the gym about their experience with embracing failure. Susan, a yoga instructor in Crystal City and self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, says she realized that she has to remind herself to actively practice failing.  

Now when she slips, falls, or misses a goal, she actively works on shifting her inner narrative. Failure is a sign that she’s pushing herself and even shows her where she has an opportunity to grow. She also reminds herself how boring climbing would be if she sent or finished every route she tried!  

Additionally, climbing and her yoga practice has given her a deeper understanding of how to push, when to push, and hardest of all, when to not even try (even if that feels like the worst failure of all).  


failure is a necessary part of climbing (and life)

We also talked to Ezra, a youth climbing coach in Columbia who said that failure is necessary in the application of deliberate practice. We grow only by learning what made us fail and creating a plan to address those weaknesses. It can be uncomfortable in the moments right before or after a fall, and overcoming fears of failure (LINK) that prevent you from attempting a route can be difficult, but it’s worth it.  

how to incorporate (and appreciate) climbing failures


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  • Get on a route/problem that’s hard. Feels like a no-brainer, right? But the first step to incorporating failure into your climbing routine is to get on something where you might fail. And if you do, look at it as an opportunity to learn and work through it.  

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  • Reflect. Think through what happened. Were you too tired? Were you unfocused? Do you need different beta? Are you just feeling off today? Do you need to commit to making the move? Giving thought to what went wrong will help you figure out how to create a better plan for your next attempt. 

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  • Practice Positive Self Talk. If you find yourself spiraling with thoughts about not being good enough, or the route not being good enough, or that the weather sucks (or that everything sucks)...stop. Take a breath. Now, reframe and focus instead on what you can to learn, try, or improve upon for your next attempt.  

Ezra ends his advice reminding us that at the end of the day, climbing is centered around having fun, and things that can contribute to having fun include trying hard, improvement, learning, and friendships. 

Climb on!