'Psychological Insight' - Explained

'Psychological Insight' are interviews that take an in depth look at how psychology has played a part in an athletes performance. It is a unique insight into how psychology has shaped a particular individual into the athlete they are today....

A Psychological Insight with "Jane"* (Recreational)

Our first recreational climber to be interviewed is "Jane". In this interview, you can read all about her successes, failures, frustrations and hopes for the future. Being mentally prepared for any sport applies to everyone, whether you are a professional or new to the sport. "Jane" gives us an honest approach to her climbing psychology. Take from it what you will. Any queries, please contact Jessica.

* made up name to protect the individual

1) Please introduce yourself? (E.g. How long you have been climbing for? Your climbing status? Type of climbing? Etc)

I started climbing in my late twenties, eventually becoming more absorbed in it over the last 2-3 years (aged 34 now).
I do bouldering, sport and traditional climbing.

2) How did you first get into climbing and what keeps you climbing today?

I did a little bit of climbing as a child in France with my dad.
When I'm climbing I feel relaxed, focused and totally content/happy.

3) Who were and are your role models and why? (This can be both climbing or non climbing related)

Not sure I have any 'role models' as such.

4) What level/grade are you currently climbing at?

Eh, I'm not sure I find 'grading' to be quite variable.
Roughly 6c-7a, but I can easily be spat off a 6a outdoors sport climbing in Scotland!
Trad, my 'hardest' lead grade has been E2 5b (I think).
Bouldering grades for me are totally specific to the type of route - if it's a roof, I struggle with a super easy grade and if it's a pinch-y, thin nasty wee thing on a slab then I'm sorted.

YOUR CLIMBING PSYCHOLOGY

1) What would be a typical climbing week for you? (how many times do you climb? How long each session is? How each session is spent? (if different) etc.) Any specific pattern you follow? Any specific training you incorporate into your schedule?)

Ideally no less than 3 climbing sessions a week (preferably 4 - 5), but that doesn't always happen. Outside is always better than in, and chasing the dry weather for a 1hr session outside is preferable to a 6hrs indoors.
Indoor sessions I'll do about 2hrs (if bouldering) and about 3 - 4 hrs if climbing. I boulder a lot as I work shifts, so if I do 3 boulder sessions in the week I'll do 1 session on moderate problems/circuits, 1 session on endurance circuits and 1 session on difficult/compy wall stuff.
No pattern – whatever fits in with shifts. No training - Dave MacLeod and Arno Ilgner both reference that sometimes people focus too much on training and not enough time on actually just climbing routes with limited time for climbing I figure the more actual climbing I do the better. I'm also simply too damn undisciplined to stick to a training regime (I have tried!). I bought a finger board and I think I've used it three times in two years.

2) Through your climbing, is there anything you have identified as an issue or as a weakness? (This can be either physical or psychological). If there are any specific examples, please tell us about them.

Hazel Findley recently spoke about female climbers self-doubt, lack of ego and need to verbalise their negative perception of 'self' and I totally identified with that.
I am also scared of injury (that would prevent me from climbing for a prolonged period) and if I'm being really honest, I'm scared of falling.

3) The issue(s) or weakness(es) identified above, how have you tried to overcome them?

I try to practice falls when I climb sport admittedly I don't do this enough though.

4) What do you believe are your strengths with your climbing? And how have you tried to capitalise on this? (if you have)

Not sure what my strengths are. I'm naturally quite light which is helpful but I wouldn't say I've capitalised on this.

5) We all get days where we lack motivation. How do you try to maintain or increase your motivation on a particularly glum day? What is your recipe on keeping the mind entertained?

For me it's just about forcing myself out the door and going to the climbing gym/crag, as usually about half an hour into a session I start to feel better.
If I'm having a particularly poor performance day I try and remind myself that I'm never going to be the next Mina hahaha, and that having good heath to climb regularly is a very fortunate position to be in in life.

6) Have there been any problems/routes/places/climbers that have encouraged you to climb harder or try harder? Why do you think this is?

I boulder alone quite a bit so sometimes having others climb with me can boost my performance probably in an ego driven way. That said, outside I relish the quiet serenity of the outdoors and I'm not keen on busy climbing areas a busy crag really knocks my psych.

7) Have there been any particular knock-backs in climbing that have prevented you from climbing well? (this could be physical like injuries or psychological like nerves before a particular climb). How have you tried to overcome these? Please share some stories if you have any?

Not really, a few tweeks here and there from bouldering indoors but no 'knock-backs' to date so I've been lucky.

8) What has been your proudest moment in climbing so far? And how do you think this has affected you as a climber?

Hmmm, some of the multi-pitch trad climbing I experienced in Glen Coe this summer was really out of my comfort zone, and even though I didn't achieve a great deal grade wise, it was a massive learning curve for me as a climber and a truly amazing experience. It 'affcted' me in that something just clicked and made me recognise that climbing is a huge part of who I am now and who I want to be for the foreseeable future.

APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY

1) What is your definition of applied psychology?

Applying the fundamentals of psychology to assess/change/adapt human behaviour(s), such as CBT.

2) Mental techniques are commonly used amongst climbers, despite many not knowing they do so (e.g. Imagery, self talk, goal setting, video analysis etc.). The ability to be mentally resilient is certainly key to success in any sport. What are your thoughts of psychology and of mental preparation through known techniques?

I've just started reading the Rock Warriors Way by Arno Ilgner which is a psychological approach to climbing as I feel my mental 'self' is now lagging behind my physical 'self' in relation to climbing.
I've always used self talk and goal setting as a climber, without being particularly conscious of doing this.

3) How much of your training do you put towards learning and developing your own mental techniques/psychology? Please explain how or what you do in order to do so?

As above, I've only recently made an effort to focus on this.

4) A lot athletes use mental techniques without understanding the theoretical underpinnings. Therefore, these techniques aren't as effective as they should be. Do you believe more educational practices/workshops should be put in place to teach athletes how to use mental techniques appropriately?

Yes, without a doubt.

5) How has your approach to psychology in sport developed or changed over the years?

My understanding of the intrinsic relationship between mental and physical health has always been fairly good due to the nature of my career but really focusing on this for myself in relation to my climbing has taken a while to click.

5) A lot of athletes have a wide source of 'help' but this has focused more on the physical developments (physiotherapists, nutritionists, personal trainers etc). Sport psychologists, although present in some sports, are predominantly not present or readily available to many sports despite mental resilience being listed as one of the key traits to success. Why do you think this is? Should we be actively employing sport psychologists into immediate support groups like personal trainers, nutritionists etc?

The importance of mental health has forever been underestimated and metal ill health is still portrayed with negativity and negative stereotyping by the media so it is of no coincidence that sports psychology is undervalued compared to say a physiotherapist.
Yes, I think it is just as essential as the other disciplines.

AND FINALLY..

1) Do you have a quote or saying you live or stand by?

Not really

Tell me about your recent trip to Font?

I went without any expectation of accomplishing grades. I had been well warned that I would struggle up some of the Font 5 routes and my goal was to focus on the circuits and get on as many different routes and shapes of boulders as I could, and I felt I achieved that.

Did the trip confirm a lot of things about your climbing for you or did it produce new issues?

I was a lot fitter/stronger than I had expected to be. I was a lot more psyched than I thought I would be.
Fear of falling let me down there were a good few problems I wimped out of toping out on and would have been stocked to complete. When I looked back at some of the photos, I was totally overestimating the impact of a fall I had like the biggest crash pad under me!

Published Interview 4th Jan 2015


A Psychological Insight with Sean McColl (Professional)

Our next 'Psychological Insight' interview is with another professional rock climber, Sean McColl. Sean has just completed an intense IFSC world cup competition circuit which saw him come out second overall in lead (with ropes) climbing. Sean is not only an inspiration on the wall but an inspiration off the wall as well. You may have seen Sean recently in 'American Ninja Warrior'. Sean is such a focused, passionate and mentally driven athlete who really does drive home the psychological aspect of performance. We are very lucky to have this interview with Sean at such a hectic time in his climbing. What an athlete! Any comments, please contact Jessica.

About Sean

1. Please introduce yourself? (E.g. How long you have been climbing for? Your climbing status? Type of climbing? Etc)

My name is Sean McColl, I am a 27 year old climber from North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I started climbing when I was 10 years old and have been doing it as my career since 2010. I am a very all-around climber. I enjoy climbing outside as well as inside, bouldering as well as lead (ropes vs no ropes). I have even dabbled in Traditional climbing and a bit of Deep Water Soloing (over water with no ropes).

2. How did you first get into climbing and what keeps you climbing today?

When I was 10 years old, my family and I had annual passes for a local tennis club which was shut down. We were searching for other sport activities and stumbled upon the local climbing gym. We bought annual memberships and I started training with their team a few months after.

What keeps me climbing today is my passion and love for the sport. It is so unique as a sport because it can be thought of as a lifestyle. Above all, I love competing and testing myself against others. Even when I decide to stop competing, my passion for climbing will still be there and I hope I will continue it my whole life.

3. Who were and are your role models and why? (This can be both climbing or non climbing related)

My role models have always been sports athletes that have multiple traits. Firstly, I love athletes who push further their respective sport. If it weren't for that, sport would never evolve. Additionally, I love athletes who are humble in their victories but know how to celebrate. Above all, my role models have to look happy in what they love doing the most, win or lose. In Rock Climbing, growing up I always looked up to Chris Sharma from the USA as a role model and when I started on the World Cup circuit, I looked and still look up to Kilian Fischhuber from Austria.

Your Climbing Psychology

1. In interviews and articles, you have mentioned that you enjoy different types of climbing for different physical reasons. For example, bouldering for physically hard moves and lead for endurance. Do any of these reasons differ psychologically?

In interviews, whenever I am asked why I do both disciplines, my answer is often because I love the differences in each discipline. When I'm in good bouldering shape, I know I'm physically very fit and muscularly strong where as when I'm in lead shape, I'm more lean, can hold on longer and generally train more often. There is a big mental switch psychologically when I compete in the two disciplines. Generally when I'm competing in bouldering I have to remember to execute quickly and not be afraid to waste some energy or power. My mind-set while lead climbing is to make smart quick decisions while at the same time use the least amount of energy possible.

2.You always seem very focused before a comp or before a particularly hard route/problem. What is going through your head at this stage? How are you mentally preparing yourself?

Just before starting, I'm trying to focus on the task at hand, the next route/boulder. If I've had a preview I'm thinking about that, if not I'm just trying to relax and feel comfortable. In my mind I always try to think the problem is possible for myself. Lastly, just before going out, I remember to smile and try to have fun. This is a sport that I love and I absolutely love competing, live in that moment. I often repeat the sentence "You live for this" just before out.

3. You seem to be investing a lot of energy, time and effort into bouldering competitions. Part of these comps is the ability to perform in front of an audience. Can you think of both advantages and disadvantages of this? Additionally, If you do make it to finals, you spend some time in isolation before you come out for the final boulders. This environment can be the complete polar opposite to the environment you have just come out of (crowd noise, energetic atmosphere etc). How do you handle or adapt to these fluctuations in environment? Any particular rituals you go through?

Let me start by saying I go through so many rituals, it'd take a whole page to write down. Like any elite athlete, everything before the actual "event" is under your control: what time you wake up, where your stuff is, what to eat, when to eat, when to warm up, how to warm up, how to put your gear on. These rituals eventually become second nature to you and I emphasize on doing them the same every competition so that if something goes "wrong", I can always get back to my routine.

The audience factor in climbing cannot be overlooked and that is what separates elite athletes from the average ones, the ability to perform under pressure. This is all part of the mental game of climbing. Most see it as a disadvantage by putting pressure from the crowd on themselves but I see it more as an advantage by putting more pressure from myself because I love to "please an audience". I can't think of a more appealing stage to climb on than in front of thousands of screaming spectators.

One last thing is when I step onto the wall whether it be bouldering or lead, the crowd somewhat disappears. I go into my own head and the rest gets shut out. I'm so focused on the climb that it is only when I finish by topping the route or falling that I hear the sound from the crowd.

4. You have a very specified training schedule and we have been lucky to catch a glimpse of this through your training videos, discussions etc. How have you come about putting your training program together and keeping motivated with such a rigorous schedule?

This must stem from the fact that I've been training since I was 12 years old. My former coaches Mike Doyle and Andrew Wilson are the best coaches I've ever met and as a team sculpted me into the athlete I am today. Their personalities, climbing style, coaching style and climbing mentality were somewhat different but the thing they did the best was somehow transmit the best of all of It to me. Over the years, I pick and choose what training I will do and I go through the hours of training. It's not always fun but I know that in the end I'll have fun having done it. Overall I enjoy training and at the same time I enjoy my brief offseason so that I can stop training and get motivated again for another year!

5. You've had notable ascents in both sport climbing (Dreamcatcher 5.14d) and bouldering (Nagual, V13). Have there been any particular climbs (finished or unfinished) that have pushed you to your limit emotionally?

On a side note, I actually Flashed Nagual V13 and have bouldered V15. I will have to answer No, there have not been anything that have affected me emotionally. My good friend Jamie Chong once gave the wisdom of "There's always another day" when it came to climbing outdoors so whenever I become frustrated I think of this. The day I spend more than 20+ redpoint tries on a route, maybe I'll come back to this question.

6. Frustration will start to hinder any athletes mental performance after a number of 'failed' attempts eventually given way to lack of confidence. How do you keep on psyching yourself up after any period of time at a given project?

This question is only really relevant to outdoor climbing as competition climbs are usually over pretty quickly. While climbing outside, I try to focus on smaller improvements, like doing an easier move "better". I also analyse every small bit of the climb and try to not overlook any small detail.

7. You're very confident on the wall. However, you have mentioned that you are not the biggest fan of run and jump starts. When faced with such a start, how do you deal with this psychologically? Is there anything else that you are not a fan of and how have you tried to work on these (if you do)?

The problem in my opinion with running starts is how it clashes with the rules and having a defined starting position. I am a very agile and coordinated climber (as seen on American Ninja Warrior) but I find running starts to be unfair for shorter climbers. The same can be said for dynos where the distance jumped is the hard part rather than the sticking of the holds.

Psychologically, I tell myself that it's doable and to trust that the route setters thought about the smaller climbers. There's some moves, or types of holds that I'm not a fan of but to combat that I try to train on them more. When in training I am faced with a weakness, I try to work on it more rather than overlooking it.

8. Pressure can be difficult to deal with. It can be good at times by motivating us to push harder or it can be debilitating by having a detrimental effect to our performance. The ability to perceive pressure as good can be difficult to 'teach'. We saw you come in at 21st place earlier this year at the first World Cup competition in Grindelwald, Switzerland. This will, no doubt, put a lot of pressure on you to perform better and also, to be extra cautious (in case of slips) in the following events. How has pressure defined you as an athlete and how exactly have you used it to your advantage?

Funny enough, I don't find that my 21st place in Switzerland put more pressure for the next World Cup. The 21st place just showed me that I wasn't ready for my season to start, or I hadn't taken enough rest prior to the weekend. The first one of the season is always awkward for me because I train so hard and long beforehand. I also know that my season runs for 7 months so I'm preparing for a whole year of competing not the first event. I find as an athlete I deal with pressure well by objectifying and rationalizing everything that happens to me, good or bad. For instance, when I do poorly at a WC in bouldering, instead of making excuses I find why I did poorly and accept it. If I have time, I'll practice it in training and if I don't I'll try to not make the same error again.

Where I use pressure to my advantage is in the number of competitions I do per year. I compete in both the bouldering and lead circuits to maximize the numbers of competitions possible. Because I have 20 instead of 8 competitions a year, I put less emphasis on each one. If I do poorly in 2 or them, that's only 10% if you take the first but 25% if you take the second. This relieves me of some pressure and I can compete to the best of my ability. Same thought process goes towards why I compete in all 3 disciplines plus overall at World Champioships. If over the weekend have two chances to do well over one, it will reduce the stress implicated with just one event.

Applied Psychology

1. What is your definition of applied psychology?

I would say that it is knowing what your mind will think and how it will react to certain situations in order to only engage in things that will boost your confidence.

2. Mental techniques are commonly used amongst climbers, despite many not knowing they do so (e.g. Imagery, self talk, goal setting, video analysis etc.). The ability to be mentally resilient is certainly key to success in any sport. What are your thoughts of psychology and of mental preparation through the above known techniques? And do you use any?

I am sure I use many but maybe not all consciously. I try to use video analysis to see where I can improve and set goals wherever I can. I think that this can vary from climber to climber and not everything that works with one will work on another. I have heard, read and slightly witnessed that climbers that are always told they are the best, climb well and look strong often succeed. I often try to think of competitions as a game with many moving pieces. I love games, I'm a problem solver and as I said before I like to test my skills against others, especially if I've been practicing those skills.

3. A lot athletes use mental techniques without understanding the theoretical underpinnings. Therefore, these techniques aren't as effective as they should be. How have you come about knowing and understanding psychology?

My guess would be my background in computer science and the black and white problem solving of a computer; true or false. Over the years, I've witnessed what works well for me, what doesn't and what has no change for me. There are things in training that I stay away from because it doesn't give me confidence and before any competition I try to do things that give me an extra boost in confidence. While at the competition I always have my routine that I can fall back on if I feel like my concentration is slipping.

4. Have you tried to be creative with certain mental techniques and applied this to your own performance? For example, using video analysis to break down a certain move into components in order to perfect it.

I haven't been creative like your example but I'm sure I've done other things that would appear bizzare. Maybe as I move from being a competitor into a coach in the future I can test some of these ideas.

5. Do you devote any of your time towards learning and developing your own mental techniques/psychology? For example, sitting down and going over process goals for the season/year etc. Please explain how or what you do in order to do so?

I think I do. Once or twice in the season when I have some real time (at least two weeks) to devote to training, I'll often try to analyze where I am weakest (is it power, precision, stamina, ect). I will go out of my way to train exactly that until the next competition.

On another note: As I travel a lot, I have a lot of time to think by myself. I often think about the image I'm giving to my sport and how I'm portraying it. This is the main reason I always smile at the end of a competition, shake the people that were on the podium's hand and do an interview. I find it's all part of our sport, being an athlete and doing it professionally. If there is one thing I can't stand in competition climbing it is when someone falls on a route/boulder because they're 100% pumped or pushed beyond their limit and then looked disgusted that they fell until they've found out their placing.

6. How has your approach to psychology in sport developed or changed over the years? Have you had any assistance from a sports psychologist?

I have never had any assistance from sports psychologist but I enjoy reading articles on the topic and try to implement them if I am curious. There are also articles that I disagree with and therefore don't practice. To work closely with a sports psychologist, I'd have to trust them completely which could take some time so I'd have to find the right one.

7. I created my own company, Sport psych Solutions, because there was a lack of psychological services out there for athletes. The website is my way of trying to educate and teach individuals the importance of psychology in sport. Why do you think there is a lack of services in this domain and what are your thoughts of the aims of the website?

I think there is a lack of services in this domain because it is hard to prove that the psychology part of an athlete's training was the cause of his win. "Climbing" training is very cause and effect whereas psychology is much more hidden. I think the idea is good to put emphasis on psychology but like a good coach, you need to find the right one, or at least one that can create or apply a psychology schedule.

Published Interview 19th Nov 2014


A Psychological Insight with Mina Leslie-Wujastyk (Professional)

My first 'Psychological Insight' interview is with professional rock climber, Mina Leslie- Wujastyk. I am especially excited that Mina has agreed to share her thoughts and feelings as being a rock climber myself, I am a huge fan. Mina is and has been an inspiration for many and getting into Mina's head with regards to certain psychological issues has been enlightening. Credit goes to James Oliphant, good friend and also a climbing enthusiast, who has helped me with these questions. Mina Leslie-Wujastyk is one of Britain's top female climbers and is also vice-president for the BMC (The British Mountaineering Council). Mina has just achieved her hardest sport climbing route to date with her recent ascent of Mecca Extension (8c) at Raven Tor in the Peak District. Only a handful of women have climbed as hard as Mina and in this exclusive interview, we ask Mina several questions with regards to how psychology has gotten her to where she is now. Any comments please contact Jessica.

1. Please introduce yourself? (E.g. How long you have been climbing for? Your climbing status? Type of climbing? Etc)

My name is Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and I am a rock climber, predominantly a boulderer and single pitch sport climber. I started climbing when I was 8 years old and am totally infatuated with it.

2. How did you first get into climbing and what keeps you climbing today?

My parents took me to a wall because I was always scampering about and climbing on things. I loved it from the word go and still do. I love the challenge, the exposure, the outdoors; I love feeling strong and fit; I love the problem solving. I also love the places it takes me and the community it opened up to me.

3. Who were and are your role models and why? (This can be both climbing or non climbing related)

My Mum was a great role model for me in life in general, as is my Dad in some ways. In climbing I had lots of role models, people in magazines etc but mainly people that I saw climbing on a daily basis.

4. You've recently decided to focus predominantly on outdoor climbing, both bouldering and sport, as well having dabbled in trad. Are there certain climbs that you feel really pushed you to your limit emotionally? This could be a climb you have completed, an existing project or a climb you have opted to give up on. If so, why? (This could be finish or unfinished climbs).

Yes definitely. In fact Mecca Extension (that I just did) pushed me pretty far emotionally. The weather in the UK is so changeable - after falling high on the route in August, I then had a month where I couldn't get through the 8b+ section and this felt really frustrating. In the back of my mind I knew that conditions were playing a part as it was so warm but I really felt like it was me not being good enough at the time. Then when it got colder and I began to get close again I got really nervous about the whole thing! It felt so amazing to do the route but very emotional - I cried at the chains!

Also this summer I put some time into trying The Vice, an 8B boulder problem in Rocklands. I had to walk away from this one as I wasn't able to do and that was also very hard. I guess I invested a lot of my sense of self worth into doing the climb, so walking away and being okay with not being good enough felt very hard.

5. Let's talk about fear in climbing. You are no stranger to highball boulder problems and you have recently sent 'Unfamiliar', a notorious trad line at Stanage, where in the video of the climb you are visibly shaken by a slip of the foot. Has fear ever prevented you from completing a climb? And do you have any rituals or practices to overcome fear?

Hmm, yes fear definitely plays a part. I find that some days I can handle it and some I can't. Sometimes I would top rope a highball boulder first to lower fear levels but sometimes I won't so it varies I guess. It also plays a part in sport climbing, I get scared if I am really run out or have to miss clips but generally, once I have taken a big fall I am better at being able to not be scared. It all comes down to experience I suppose.

6. With regards to injuries, it doesn't seem you've had many severe injuries, but as all climbers experience, some form of injury simply will happen at some point. How do you overcome your injuries from a mental standpoint? Does your motivation drop or do you feel driven to train aspects that would normally be neglected? Do you use any psychological tools/aids to keep you motivated?

As you say I haven't had lots of really bad injuries but this is mainly because I see a chiropractor very regularly so I keep on top of things. I guess that is my coping strategy for what I put my body through.

7. You've said you never struggle to stay motivated to train. What about training keeps you motivated? (ie, projects, pushing toward a higher grade).

I think I stay motivated because, although my training is goal orientated, I actually enjoy the process too. I think if it was all about the end product, it would be hard to push on, but I really enjoy it in the present moment.

8. All climbers hit a plateau at some point. Have you ever struggled emotionally with a plateau or are you able to confidently diagnose what is needed to overcome it?

I do struggle with plateaus sometimes but generally try out lots of things to push past them, hard work and patience is a good recipe.

9. Dealing with failure is something every climber must be able to do, but of course some people deal with failure differently from others. How do you feel you deal with failure and does it change your perception of your abilities?

I actually wrote an article about failure in climbing and how it is so intertwined with self worth etc. that would probably answer the question best! >The Art of Losing

10. Your recent ascent of 'Mecca Extension' demonstrates how much passion, dedication and drive you invest into your projects. As you are now focused on outdoor climbing, do you feel there is a lot more riding on you to perform and deliver? We all suffer from pressure now and then, but as a professional athlete how do you deal with managing expectations of others?

I think it would be easy to go down that road mentally and to put pressure on yourself on behalf of sponsors or other people but I make a conscious effort not to do that. At the end of the day you can only do what you can do and if it stops being fun then the whole purpose has been lost. I really try to keep that in my mind.

11. What is your definition of applied psychology?

Being aware of mental processes and barriers and implementing things into one's life in order to overcome issues that you feel are psychologically based.

12. Mental techniques are commonly used amongst climbers, despite many not knowing they do so (e.g. Imagery, self talk, goal setting, video analysis etc.). The ability to be mentally resilient is certainly key to success in any sport. What are your thoughts of psychology and of mental preparation through known techniques?

I think it is a hugely overlooked part of climbing. Even more so than in other sports I think this kind of thing would be hugely helpful with climbing. We have added factors of fear and very real danger to contend with, all of which play a huge part in performance.

13. How much of your training do you put towards learning and developing your own mental techniques/psychology? Please explain how or what you do in order to do so?

I do a lot of yoga and, through that, mindfulness work. I find it hugely helpful to my climbing and my life in general. Focussing on breathing and emptying the mind is totally liberating!

14. A lot athletes use mental techniques without understanding the theoretical underpinnings. Therefore, these techniques aren't as effective as they should be. Do you believe more educational practices/workshops should be put in place to teach athletes how to use mental techniques appropriately?

Yes, definitely!

15. How has your approach to psychology in sport developed or changed over the years?

I have been a lot more aware of it as I have got older and perhaps as I have pushed myself harder. I also did a post-grad certificate in counselling and psychotherapy so I learnt a lot through that.

16. A lot of athletes have a wide source of 'help' but this has focused more on the physical developments (physiotherapists, nutritionists, personal trainers etc). Sport psychologists, although present in some sports, are predominantly not present or readily available to many sports despite mental resilience being listed as one of the key traits to success. What is your take on this? Should we be actively employing sport psychologists into immediate support groups like personal trainers, nutritionists etc?

Yes I think it would be really useful but I think it would take a lot for climbers to actually reach out and take up that support, I'm not sure how ready people are to accept that their barriers may be mental and then if they do, to accept help.

17. And finally, do you have a quote or saying you live or stand by?

Be kind to yourself.

Published Interview 1st Nov 2014