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

Get hands-on learning straight from Arno Ilgner in Climbing’s online video-course series Overcome Your Fear of Falling. Being afraid to fall is hardwired into every climber, but in this comprehensive course Ilgner gives specific drills to push past this evolutionary limitation.  Sign up now, learn from home, and climb your level best.

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.

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.

Go to Part 7,  Conclusion and Ongoing Practice

These lessons are taken from the recent online course I did with Climbing Magazine: Overcome Your Fear of Falling Here’s the outline for this series of lessons:

  1. Introduction and history
  2. Falling is a skill
  3. Understand your fear
  4. Know your motivation
  5. Incremental skill-building
  6. Skills and drills
  7. Conclusion and ongoing practice