Overcome Your Fear of Falling: Part 6—Skills and Drills

Receive $50 off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you'll find gear for all your adventures outdoors. Sign up for Outside+ today.

The following is part 6 of Arno Ilgner’s “Overcome Your Fear of Falling” series. View the full series here.


The skills and drills are what make up the core of my online course Overcome Your Fear of Falling. They go in depth on how to stage and practice the drills. There is too much information to cover comprehensively here. Plus, I’d like you to buy the course so you have the benefit of the full content, including videos, Q&As, interviews, etc.     

Here’s an overview of what this section covers:     

Short toprope falling

You’ll practice impacting the wall, how to position your body, and the belayer’s role. There are many subtleties to each of these parts. The climber will need to pay attention to the breath, eye shift, and body posture; the belayer will need to pay attention to the belay stance, jumping vs. not jumping, how much slack to maintain in the system, etc. Climber and belayer learn the gross elements of the skill.

Longer toprope falls

Here you focus on building more falling skill, but also helping the belayer learn to give a cushioned catch. This can be challenging if the weight difference between climber and belayer is more than 50 pounds. Climbers will refine the falling elements: how to breathe throughout the fall, how to shift the eyes during various parts of the fall, and how to transition from a climbing stance to a falling posture so you move as an integrated unit.

Lead falling

Now you can practice lead falls to build on your toprope experience. Pull the rope and switch ends. The climber leads, clipping bolts, and begins taking falls at the highest clipped bolt. The clipped bolt will be somewhere between your chest and waist. You begin practice here and slowly increment higher.

Advanced falling

This involves falling in more advanced situations like pendulums, slabs, roofs, while clipping, etc. Each situation is unique, but you apply the same incremental process you’ve learned. Finally, you can practice on trad climbs to build trust in your gear, if this is a discipline you engage in.

This practice progression leads you toward applying falling in realistic climbing situations. By following the incremental approach outlined here—that’s a key point of the course—you keep yourself as safe as possible so you can focus on enjoying the process.

In the next lesson, we’ll wrap up and identify how to continue your practice.


  • Risk: Nothing, not even instruction from a coach or this online course, can eliminate the risks associated with practicing falling. Accept responsibility for any information you utilize for practicing.
  • Experiential knowledge: It’s important to realize that you know how to fall when you experience falling properly. This can only be gained from proper instruction.
  • Motivation: Your mind’s achievement motivation can get you into trouble, pushing you to take risks that aren’t appropriate. So, you need to be wary.


  • Best option: Get a coach to help guide your practice. We have a network of Warrior’s Way trainers across the USA and abroad who are experts on teaching falling.
  • Next best option: Utilize my online course, which outlines the process thoroughly with videos, photos, text, interviews, homework, Q&As, and more.
  • Worst option: Practice yourself without these resources. If you do, then do it in small increments.

To learn how to incorporate falling as an essential skill, take our new online course Overcome Your Fear of Falling taught by Arno Ilgner, founder of The Warrior’s Way mental-training program and author of The Rock Warrior’s Way.