**Sponsored Content Brought to You By Lauren Seidel, Sierra Trading Post**
Whether you’ve just started climbing or have been at it for years, there’s always room for improvement. Building strength and refining technique are surefire ways to make you a better climber, no matter if you sport climb, trad climb or boulder. But lifting weights and hitting the indoor climbing wall aren’t the only ways to boost those climbing skills. You can work on becoming a better climber while you’re at the crag by keeping these simple tips in mind.
Climb with People Who Are Better than You
Climbing with people who are better than you can help you improve your own skills. Just by watching skilled climbers, you get a visual lesson in what good form looks like. And if you find yourself stuck on a move, a better climber can give you advice on how to get past it. Climbers with a higher skill level can also give you feedback after you finish a route so you know what to work on when you jump on the next one. When you go climbing with better rock climbers, you are also given the chance to try difficult routes on top rope. This allows you to try routes slightly above your skill level with minimum risk.
Climb with People Who Are Worse than You
This is contrary to what I just said, but hear me out. It’s good to balance climbing with people more skilled than you and with those less skilled, or at a similar level. This is especially important when you start leading routes. Setting up a climb can be scary. If there’s a better climber in your crew that you can fall back on, it’s easy for you to give up and just let that person lead the route. But take this person out of the picture, and you become more accountable. Sometimes knowing that you can only rely on yourself is the mental boost you need to push yourself further.
Be Smart with Injuries
Achy elbows and shredded fingers are very familiar to rock climbers. It’s tempting to push through injuries, but doing so can take you out of the game for even longer than if you stopped when your body told you to. You can’t get better at climbing if you can’t climb. To prevent injuries, be sure to start slow and warm up with easy routes. If you do find yourself experiencing pain, take some time off to recover.
Climb with an Encouraging Partner
Choosing a climbing partner is almost as important as choosing a life partner. Picking someone you trust is a given, but choosing someone positive is also important. If you are nervous or frustrated on a route, would you rather have a partner who cheers you on or one who indulges your negativity? Having a partner who encourages you to push yourself and who is genuinely excited about your achievements will help bring your climbing skills to the next level.
Rock climbing requires practice, just like any sport. The more you climb, the quicker you’ll improve. This doesn’t mean you need to climb every day, but getting on the wall once a week or once every other week is better than climbing sporadically a handful of times each year. If you don’t always have a partner available, head to the climbing gym. Some gyms have self-belay devices, but bouldering works just as well to keep your technique and muscles from getting rusty.
Rock climbing is just as much of a mental sport as it is a physical one. It’s easy to get into a negative mindset when you’re doing something that is difficult and a little frightening at the same time. Next time you’re struggling on the wall and start spiraling into a world of negativity—stop. Train your brain not to go there. Staying positive will keep you in the frame of mind you need to push yourself and improve. This isn’t an easy task, but preventing yourself from giving up on the wall will ultimately make you a better climber.
Lauren Seidl is the blogger and social media specialist for off-price retailer Sierra Trading Post. She hikes, camps, climbs and explores the Rocky Mountains as often as she can. When Lauren isn’t out finding adventures in her home state of Colorado, she can be found sipping a beer at any given Fort Collins brewery.