This browser doesn't support Spotify Web Player. Switch browsers or download Spotify for your desktop.

Episode #17: How to Manage the Fear of Falling

By Eric J. Hörst

If you occasionally struggle with the fear of falling, then this podcast is for you! While the fear of falling is most acute among beginner and intermediate climbers, it's a fact that advanced climbers and the pros also experience a bit of falling fear from time to time. After all, fear is an important self-protective response—the goal, then, isn’t to eliminate fear, but to manage it…which is the focus of this podcast. My Lithuanian friends, Dei and Ben, have created a series of excellent YouTube videos (called “Day in Nature“) with the common theme of exploring the fear of falling. I was happy to join Dei and Ben (and their YouTube channel viewers) for this online coaching session, in which I answer their fear-related questions and share a variety of mental training tips to better manage fear and advance their climbing ability. No matter if you're an indoor climber, boulderer, or sport climber, I trust you'll find some useful tips and techniques to address your unique vertical-world concerns and fearful experiences. Ultimately, learning to expertly manage fear is a long-term endeavor—there are no quick fixes—and so I hope this hour-plus-long podcast will help kick-start your journey to becoming a more confident, in-control, and courageous climber! Podcast Rundown: 1:07 - Introducing Jerry Moffatt's MASTERMIND! 2:04 - Eric's intro to coaching the fear of falling. 3:45 - Beginning discussion with Dei & Ben of "Day in Nature" 5:00 – The goal of controlling fear rather than letting fear control you! 10:00 - Legitimate fears vs. phantom fears. 11:30 - The importance of taking practice falls (in a very safe, controlled setting). 13:40 - How to combat fears of the rope getting cut...or a bolt pulling out. 18:45 - Developing the skill of managing fear is a long-term process....that takes effort over months & years. 19:30 - Why do some people conquer fear faster than others? 22:30 - A look inside Alex Honnold's brain (via MRI)...and his "quiet" amygdala. 27:23 - How to handle fear of runouts between bolts? 31:24 - Value of reading books on mental training (such as Warriors Way, Maximum Climbing, MasterMind). 37:00 - Mental training should be comprehensive...and not just focused on managing fear. This is a rich area with potential for huge breakthroughs in performance! 38:12 - Mental training literally changes your brain (neuroplasticity). 38:30 - Using breath-focused meditation as training (at home) and for performance (at the crag). 40:50 - For expertly skilled climbers, further improvement often comes down to mental training...and getting stronger! 41:15 - What about grabbing the rope (or quick draws) when falling? 43:10 - Tips for returning to climbing after an injurious fall. 48:45 - Why are children often less scared of falling than adults? 53:10 - What about fear when clipping the second bolt of a route? 56:23 - How to assess a fall…determining a "safe fall" vs. a dangerous fall situation? 59:55 - What about climbers who never fall (because they climb so far below their maximum ability)? How much harder might they be able to climb by becoming willing/able to fall? 1:03:50 - Who was the most fearful that I've ever coached or climbed with? 1:06:00 - The difference between Anxiety vs. Fear. 1:07:01 - The importance of "mete-cognition"...for improving your mental game and performance (in anything). 1:08:45 - Recognizing and breaking fear "triggers". 1:10:16 - Just as you train your muscles with's essential to use mental training exercise to strengthen your mental muscle! 1:12:20 - My two favorite mental training exercises are.... 1:14:44 - How to do effective visualization? (Hint: It must be more than just a mental rehearsal of sequence!) 1:16:30 - Closing comments by Dei & Ben. 1:17:30 - Eric wraps up podcasts...and asks YOU to share it with a few friends! Music by Misty Murphy  

Listen to Episode #17: How to Manage the Fear of Falling now.

Listen to Episode #17: How to Manage the Fear of Falling in full in the Spotify app