(More) Pro Tips: How to Wrangle Squirrelly Nerves
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
“No matter how many competitions you’ve been to, nerves will always kick in. One thing that really helps is believing in yourself and knowing that you’ve worked hard to be there and have prepared as much as you possibly can. Just take a deep breath and climb.”
—Lučka Rakovec, SLO, 4th in 2019 Toulouse Olympic Qualifier
“I like to acknowledge the positive aspect of nerves. Being nervous means that you care. If I wasn’t nervous, it would mean that I lost the passion and drive that I have for competition climbing, and then there would be no point in doing it anymore.”
—Allison Vest, CAN, 2018 Canadian National Bouldering Champion
“The most important trick I use for dealing with nerves is to just remember that there is always another competition, so no matter what happens you get another shot. Experience is also really useful for dealing with nerves. I found the more comps I competed in the better I got at dealing with it.”
—Will Bosi, GBR, 14th in 2019 Toulouse Olympic Qualifier
“Create some small routines that you can do before every comp to calm down. Take a deep breath and believe in your strengths. You’re here to have fun, never forget about that. The more you enjoy the moment, the better you will climb.”
—Sascha Lehmann, SUI, 15th in 2019 Toulouse Olympic Qualifier
“To manage nerves in difficult moments, try the small exercises of ‘cardiac coherence.’ The rule is simple: 3-6-5. It means three times per day, you will sit down for breathing exercises, and during each set you will do six breaths per minute for five minutes total.
With these five minutes, we leave the outside world to recenter. We have to remind ourselves to be in the present moment, not thinking about results or anything else. This long and deep breathing will soothe our heart rate and help us regain control when we feel overwhelmed. With very little practice we can quickly get out of the bottom of our boulders or routes and find control.”
—Romain Desgranges, FRA, over 60-time Lead World Cup finalist
“When feeling nervous, the worst thing you can do is not confront that feeling. Feeling more relaxed always starts by acknowledging that I am stressing out, and then accepting it and recognizing that the stress only comes from the fact that I wish to perform well, which is a positive thing. I then try to focus on specific technical details pertaining to the process rather than possible results.”
—Julien Gasc, FRA, 4th in 2019 Paraclimbing World Championships