Five Strategies For Sending Your Project
Pick Your Battles.
Learn To Sequence.
Let It Go.
As 2021 begins, what better time to talk about sending your ‘project’ than now. Some of us will be heading back to our home walls for another round of lockdown training. While some of us, especially those who are lucky enough to live in an area close to real rock, might be just enjoying another typical climbing day. ‘Projects’ are everywhere. Both inside the gym or outside on the rock. Either way, the points that follow hopefully will help you on your own personal stone crusade. Most of them are common knowledge, but often overlooked in the plethora of training advice that gets repeated time and time again. So, let’s begin.
First and foremost, having confidence in yourself should be your number one priority. Period. Coming into a session with a negative attitude or low self-esteem, whether on the rock or in the gym, more often than not results in a piss poor performance. This doesn’t mean that coming into a session ‘overconfident’ will yield great results either. A key outlook that has helped me was something I picked up from listening to a pro on my podcast. 5 words. ‘You deserve to be here’. That resonated with me more than the whole rest of the interview. The main objective is to maintain a positive outlook on the session, taking whatever small gains garnered just like what they are. Small victories. To be fair, not every session will yield these results either. Truth is it can be quite hard to maintain this outlook, especially on the days where things just aren’t clicking. It’s very easy to go down the rabbit hole of negativity. But if you ask any successful climber what their confidence level is when they are climbing their best, I’d bet the farm that it isn’t a negative one! And so, this is why you need to practice it. In the end, with some grit and determination, I’m sure it will pay dividends. ‘You deserve to be here’.
Pick Your Battles.
A statement that has stood the test of time yet lost on so many. Many hours of my younger years spent thrashing away at a project, most of the time yielding the same result. No send. Sure, here and there I would come away with one, most likely in poor form, clawing my way to the top out. But this is most unsatisfying in all honesty. So over time you learn the hard way. To pick your battles. Gone are the days of climbing in subpar conditions. Whether it’s the weather, my skin, the hangover from the night before, or just the slow recovery of the body that comes with age. Going day in day out, in the proverbial ‘a muerte’ style lends itself to the youth. Take for instance Martin Keller. Over 40 and has a project for over 18 years that he is trying to tick off. He drives out one evening in hopes of laying siege to it, but conditions are not optimal. Whether it was the humidity, or skin conditions, one will never know. But what stuck with me was that he simply went home. He didn’t sit and thrash about on it. He went home. This only comes with a great knowledge of not only your own body, but the surrounding factors that are completely out of your control. Most of the younger generation might laugh at this approach, and that’s fine. But he got the send. Not that day obviously. Maybe not even the next session. But he got it. Pretty sure that was a moment worth remembering. Maybe that awareness and discipline is just what is needed to achieve your goal. Or not. It is up to you to decide.
Learn To Sequence.
How many times have you started your session, feeling confident, rested, conditions prime, only to fall at the same place you did last time? And the time before that. So, you repeat the cycle. From the start, to the same crux, and fall. And repeat again. And again.
Sound familiar? It does to me. I used to do this for so many years. With the same results. Failure. Sure, after some time I would eventually pull through the crux and send the project. And in the end, I would always ask a question to myself. “Why did that take so long?”. It never dawned on me to break the problem in to parts and learn how to sequence it. Maybe it was my stubbornness. I had seen plenty of people, pro and non, sequencing their projects but it just never filtered its way into my thick skull as a viable option. Until the last few years that is. Now it’s all I seem to do. If I get so far and can’t do the crux, I don’t sit and start from the beginning time and time again. No no no, mon chéri!!! If possible, I start one move before it and try to move through the crux just to get a feel for the movement. Or start from the crux hold and then climb onward to the finish. And it’s helped tremendously. Not only does it give me a small confidence boost that the problem is possible, but more often than not, it cuts down the time it takes to actually send it. And then it’s on to the next one.
We’ve all seen it. The person with the camera or smartphone, wrapped around a tree or balanced on a rock somewhere. How vain can you get, right?
Yup. That’s me. I’m that guy. Whether on the MoonBoard or at the boulder, it’s what I do. Say what you want, I don’t care. It helps. Not only does it serve as a way to record some moments for posterity purposes, but most of the time it’s more of a way for me to tell me what I’m doing wrong on a climb. From the subconscious dropping of my foot off a hold due to fear of falling, to the subtle and delicate twisting of hips to achieve maximum reach. It’s all there. Right at your fingertips. The evidence laid before you, now is the time to pick apart your performance and start making the necessary adjustments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched myself move for a crux hold and simultaneously watch my foot come off. Not because it popped off, which most certainly happens, but because I was setting myself up for the inevitable fall. My fear of falling uncontrollably was clearly sabotaging my performance. Without going back to the video, I would not have seen that small piece of beta with my own eyes. I wouldn’t have that definitive proof as to what I was doing wrong. I otherwise would have to rely on my intuition, or feeling, in that moment. Did my foot slip? Or was I scared? You get what I’m trying to say. So, don’t be shy, bust out that camera and get recording. After all, we all know how the mind can play tricks on us.
Let It Go.
You’ve found your project. The groundwork of training has long been paved. You know you’re fit enough. Session after session, you figure out little tidbits of beta, adjusting yourself to the climb. Small progressions that keep you coming back. It’s gonna go. And then the next session, nothing. And then the one after that. And again. You’ve hit a wall (pun intended). Now what was once a fun project has turned into something different. Something not enjoyable. Sounds familiar, yes? This was me, not only a few weeks ago. I had my project, enjoying every session I was on it. Until I stopped making progress. Now I know that projecting has these moments. It should by all means. And some people’s projects go on longer than a 7-8 sessions for sure. Yet the next session, same result. And the next. And the one after that. You get my point. I found myself not enjoying it. I knew I was strong enough to do the climb. Why couldn’t I just link through the crux time and time again? Frustration mounting, I decided to walk away from it. In perfect conditions, both physically and environmental. Reality is that I needed a break from it mentally more than anything. So, I went and just climbed. Just some normal fun sessions on things I already have done, sprinkled in with a few I hadn’t. Turned out to be just the trick. By giving myself that break from ‘project mode’ and sending some other problems outside it invariably renewed my confidence while simultaneously relieving me of the mental burden of failing all the time. Heading back to my project after almost a month layoff, I sat down to do battle. And I pulled the crux. Floated my way towards the top out and fell. That’s right, FELL! Not once, but TWICE!! But here’s what’s different. I was happy. Even though I made it through the crux and fell, I knew that I eventually would get it. Taking that break from it was just what I needed I guess. And 6 days later, on a cold 30° day with my skin in tip top condition, I sent on my 5th go. By all means it wasn’t my hardest project, but memorable for sure. And by using this tactic, and the ones mentioned before, I feel like it went down a lot smoother than ones I have had in the past. Maybe it will work for you, too! Now get out there and crush!!
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