/ What is "trying hard"?

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Daniels735 - on 23 Jan 2013
Sat staring at a particularly annoying boulder problem in the wall tonight I got to thinking about "trying hard"! I think both Dave Macleod and Shauna Coxsey have both mentioned in their blogs about how trying really hard makes a massive difference when they climb.

But what actually is "trying hard"? We all assume we know what it means and clearly it has both a mental and physical aspect to it - determination, the will not to let go etc but how do we do it? To me it doesn't seem enough to just say "right, this time i'm going to try really hard" so how do you get in the right frame of mind to "try hard"? Or is it something that some people can do and others just can't?

I apologise for a slightly rambling post but even trying to write down what I am trying to get across is proving difficult!
Daniel Heath - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

Interesting topic. I agree that it's a really effective tip, and one that separates a lot of good climbers from the rest of us - they try hard all the time.

I do think that some people find it more natural to try hard than others.

I guess it's comparable to all things. I find it (relatively) easy to try hard at running but I hate trying hard on a rowing machine.

However I don't think there are really any excuses, if you want to improve. To consciously "try really hard this time" really does work.

I think my reply was even more vague than your question :P
Ciro - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

I don't think it's something you can just do when you decide to, it's something that takes years of practice, but practising it is something we can all do.

For me, if it's a safe climb - i.e. sport, every time I'm sending I try to get in a mindset of "I WILL NOT LET GO". It doesn't matter if I fluff a clip or stuff the sequence - I've started so I will not stop. I don't mind if I don't send, as long as when I came off it was because a foot or a hand slipped despite me giving everything I had to keep it on. Or at least everything I *thought* I had - it's not really possible to give everything without something like PCP in your system.

If I was thinking about the fall, or my belayer, or the distance to the next bolt, or *anything* other than staying on that rock in the moment before I came off, I'll be upset with myself.

The more I do this, the better I get at trying hard.
Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

I think it applies much more to climbing outdoors than indoors. Except for really low, totally flat feet-first landing boulder problems, outside there is always something to put you off trying really hard. Indoors I think I try pretty much my hardest a lot of the time. Outdoors, I actually think it's quite rare I absolutely go for it, with no thought whatsoever about what I'll do if (or even when) I fall off holding me back a bit.

As for on trad, the only times I genuinely try hard are when I've already cocked it up and I'm right at the point of falling off.
davo - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Daniels735)
>
> I think it applies much more to climbing outdoors than indoors. Except for really low, totally flat feet-first landing boulder problems, outside there is always something to put you off trying really hard. Indoors I think I try pretty much my hardest a lot of the time. Outdoors, I actually think it's quite rare I absolutely go for it, with no thought whatsoever about what I'll do if (or even when) I fall off holding me back a bit.
>

Disagree with this personally. I think outdoors it is just as possible to try hard, it just takes practice and effort. Especially when sport climbing I find that it is really important to try hard and not just give up.

nick bamber - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:
Trying hard is very hard to quantify and different to everybody. What to one person is trying hard ie putting on a show and grunting is another persons showing off, whilst applying stealy concentration and precision is another persons been too slow/ static.

The more you try though the harder you can.

Ramble!
LaMentalist on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

I can relate totally . I haven't really concsiously tried hard for far too long . For me it comes down to my frame of mind mostly , I used to really give everything I had occasionally in a gym sparring . When younger I studied & practiced Ju~jitsu & there are techniques known as Mu-shin & Isshin which are basically mind clearing meditive states where you empty your mind completely so you can totally immerse yourself & focus on the job in front of you .

The few times I have done this before climbing it has definitely helped , but I just haven't done it recently . Its worth looking into .

Have also seen a few vids where high level climbers like Alex Huber just go over & over the moves of big routes in their minds until they are burned into the brain , as well as actually climbing them over & over before ( free )soloing them . Does this amount to trying harder as well ?
I think maybe it does . It all leads towards your goal eventually . Would recommend Mick wards Three Grades harder for similar reasons if you've not already seen it .

Also think there is such a thing as trying too hard which can also be a factor , sometimes it pays to know when to call it a day , so you can get back on it with clearer & more focused outlook .

Of course the above could be utter nonsense mind you .

Daniel Heath - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to davo:

Trying hard on a Sport route outdoors in good weather is one of the best feelings of elation I've had in climbing.
andic - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

To me trying hard is the idea that you commit to pulling through on that crap hold even though you are pumped and cannot possibly make the move, your mind is screaming at you to down climb/ lower off or you will take an uncontrolled wanger, but you hold on for dear life and somehow climb through.

How many of us do that when we don't have to? I would say that if you can make yourself climb like that every time you go out you will get good or die
In reply to Daniels735:

trying hard is really, really important. I know many good climbers who would be great climbers, if only they could try harder.

I'm guessing the key is different for different folk. For me, it starts with a conscious decision to really put some effort in. Then, start as you mean to go on. Start aggressively, and pull harder than you think you need to. For short problems, it can help to get angry...
andic - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to midgets of the world unite:

A mate of mine has an expression that I think he has nicked from a pro climber's book:

"it's a f**king head-butt move"
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

Isn't it about ambition, dedication and success? Haven't you got to want it more than anything in life? If you have that mindset you are already trying hard before you even touch the rock.

Personally i have no ambitions as climbing goes as i do it for enjoyment only but i feel i've 'tried hard' at other things like running and musicianship. I've had moments in a race were i've dug deep and not cared about pain or injury. I can't imagine dragging that out of myself on a route.
LaMentalist on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to andic:
> (In reply to Daniels735)
>
> To me trying hard is the idea that you commit to pulling through on that crap hold even though you are pumped and cannot possibly make the move, your mind is screaming at you to down climb/ lower off or you will take an uncontrolled wanger, but you hold on for dear life and somehow climb through.

There you go , Thats much more to the point and a very good summary & what i've been lacking a lot of recently is bottle .

Jon Stewart - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to davo:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
>
> Disagree with this personally. I think outdoors it is just as possible to try hard, it just takes practice and effort. Especially when sport climbing I find that it is really important to try hard and not just give up.

Sorry, what I was saying was that the ability to try hard is going to make a difference outside (where it's a skill you have to learn), but indoor bouldering it's likely that you're already trying hard - there's nothing to stop you.
turtlespit - on 23 Jan 2013
Here's Dave MacLeod's post on 'training the ability to try' - http://onlineclimbingcoach.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/training-ability-to-try.html

From experience, I'd say it's something that can be learnt. For me, I discovered it when I started 3x3 power endurance circuits. By the 3rd route of a set, you're really pumped, but climbing a route that's below your maximum 'fresh ability', so you dig deep and keep pushing to the end.

Also getting exposure to better climbers who try hard helps. I belayed a guy on his 8a/+ project, and quickly realised I needed to try harder.

Flip side is you don't want to get injured. Also, 'trying hard' also means trying hard with your brain to unlock the easier sequence to a problem/route.
misterb - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:
Trying really hard:

A single all consuming desire to finish what i started seems to work for me with bouldering and sport where you can practice the moves over and over again.
This manifests itself in many slowly improving efforts where i learn to move better(lots of rehearsing the route in my head)and pull harder on the holds(much harder than i thought i could) till eventually i can give it 100%.

As for trad i don't think i've ever tried any really hard routes onsight so i can't say i have ever tried really hard in that discipline.

As for indoor climbing , it seems devoid of all meaning/soul/interest and therefore i can't even come close to trying hard as there is nothing to motivate me to do so.

It's got to be based on the desire to succeed and using any or all of the factors that motivate you to their maximum to achieve this.

Kevin Woods - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to madbaza: Great analysis of this. I can totally relate to all of this.

Especially with boulder problems: I go over the moves again and again until I feel the movement works, I'm layering on the technique thick as I can invent. When I get close to something that's hard for me, I start pulling much harder than at any other time.

Ultimately I think it's about loving the objective. I can fingerboard all I like but without the love for the routes (always outdoor for me), trying is meaningless.
RockSteady on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

Good topic. I think trying hard really separates good climbers out from the crowd.

I find that whether or not I am able to try my hardest depends a lot on my mood/mental state, whether I am well rested etc.

I think I try harder climbing outside as I am more inspired to succeed. Sometimes I run out of hard tries mentally before I run out physically - i.e. I'll redpointing something hard (for me) then have less mental energy to carry on climbing hard afterwards. It's something I'm working on - it would be good to be able to keep pushing it. All the climbers I know who are better than me seem to have the ability to keep on trying hard right until it gets dark!

Indoor training I am more worried about injuring myself on plastic holds so think I have an earlier inhibitor. Sometimes I get psyched for a boulder problem and really go for it though. It's a good feeling.
lanky_suction1 - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

It is something you can learn to do, and it is a transferable skill to life as well. I am really aware now of when I am really 'trying hard' and when I don't, whether it is a climbing or a non-climbing situation.

It's partly about focus, and partly about belief and the self-talk that goes on in your head. If you want more details, this is something I do as part of my hypnotherapy sessions!
Robert Durran - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

Watch a video of Adam Ondra trying really hard to get inspired, then work yourself up into a perfectly controlled frenzy (the control is the tricky part), then it's just a matter of wanting it badly enough. And don't forget the power screams (essential, I find).
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PeterJuggler - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735: I find that bouldering with others working on the same problem helps me try harder. A bit of friendly competition just makes you want it more.
Ava Adore - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

Doing moves that scare you
The Ivanator - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735: I only climb at a mediocre standard, but for me trying hard is about lots of things. Not giving in easily, climbing efficiently (concentrating on dispatching the easier parts of a problem neatly to save energy for the crux moves - so footwork, best use of holds, small adjustments), engaging my brain to find solutions/effective sequences of movement, resting properly between attempts, mental and practical preparation - if I have gone to the trouble to brush key holds and clean my shoes before attempting a problem it helps me to focus and believe that moves I've found impossible before will go 'this time'. Timing efforts at hard stuff is also crucial, so learning to recognise when you are fully warmed up, but finger strength etc. is not starting to fade (a disturbingly short window for me).
Sometimes I find it hard to focus on all the aspects of climbing well simultaneously, particularly when a problem requires different skills - so for example delicate balancy footwork followed by thuggy power moves ...I often seem to settle into a mindset "for a problem" then struggle to change it mid route, something to work on I guess.
So in short it is a combination of practical, mental and physical elements that add up to trying hard in my book.
Fraser on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

I find I can often try harder if/when my climbing partners, (who are generally of the same climbing ability) are working the same route and can either just do or just fail to do it. It's where competition comes to the fore and can often give you that extra wee something to make you hold on that bit longer, make that one extra move, basically just not-let-go.

Well-timed, vocal encouragement can also help a lot, but not if it's continuous as that actually puts me off and I inevitably climb worse.
jkarran - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

> But what actually is "trying hard"? We all assume we know what it means and clearly it has both a mental and physical aspect to it - determination, the will not to let go etc but how do we do it? To me it doesn't seem enough to just say "right, this time i'm going to try really hard" so how do you get in the right frame of mind to "try hard"? Or is it something that some people can do and others just can't?

I have to build up to it gradually with a series of progressively more enthusiastic attempts testing how the holds (and my fingers) feel at increasing levels of application. Once I'm satisfied (subconsciously) it can be done without hurting myself it usually just all comes together. It doesn't necessarily feel easy but it often feels quite controlled and measured despite the fact I'm pulling/pushing harder than on any previous attempt.

I suppose that's not really 'death or glory' 100% effort so maybe not what you're asking after but it's as close as I get these days.

jk
Ali - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735: Trying hard makes a huge amount of difference - both indoors and out. It doesn't have to be scary - it could be on a top rope - but it's pushing your body physically and mentally to it's limit. I find that I need to be mentally quite fresh to try hard - after a hard day at work, sometimes I'm just too tired mentally to try really hard at the wall, even though physically there is no reason why I shouldn't be able to.

I do think that some climbers, perhaps (and this is probably a complete generalisation) new climbers and those who primarily climb trad at a moderate level, don't really understand what trying hard really feels like. I didn't for years - it was only when I started redpointing harder routes and bouldering more indoors that I realised how much you can actually achieve when you really try hard. I know when I'm really trying hard when climbing and I reckon, being honest, that's probably 20% of the time - I'm sure that one of the keys to improving my climbing is increasing this percentage. And I do believe that one of the main reasons top climbers are top climbers is because they try hard a lot more than perhaps some of the rest of us do! I also believe that some people find it easier than others to do this, for a variety of reasons, and that there are a lot of factors which contribute to being able to try hard on a particular session.
pork pie girl - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

when i get into grunt mode.. usually sounds like i'm giving birth..

if i'm not grunting i'm not trying enough


Robert Durran - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

This is what trying hard looks like:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/videos/play.php?i=944
Ali - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to pork pie girl: Me too! If I start screaming, I'm trying really hard...
pork pie girl - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Ali: lol at 'screaming' :o)
Bulls Crack - on 24 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:

read Jerry's book? He tried hard!
Tomar - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735: It's about unleashing the hungry beast in you. You can't buy a bottle of "try hard" in any climbing shop, you need to be inspired by a route, a grade, a style, whatever motivates you. Then when you get inspired, psyche level goes up and you get excited, now just let the beast do it's magic, the best bit it's that rewarding feeling of achievement after, it's that kick you get after which feeds the beast, and next time?...you just want to try harder... the addictive cycle has began.

mloskot - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Daniels735:
> But what actually is "trying hard"?

Trying hard is
http://www.vimeo.com/54988741

...trying like "tomorrow wasn't promised" [Ray Lewis (tm)]
Plus, a couple of additional artifacts: t-shirt off (men only), scream loud, be "emotionally aggressive" [Johnny Dawes (tm)]

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