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Liverpool/Sheffield, United Kingdom

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Women's climbing Symposium

On Saturday I attended the worlds first women's climbing symposium. The day was incredible. It consisted of numerous technique workshops lead by elite coaches from all across the world including the current british number one. There were fascinating lectures and discussions that addressed what it means to be a female involved in a very male dominated sport. 

The most interesting of the talks was led by Vicki cassell, sports phycologist and lecturer at Bangor university which addressed self limiting behaviors and the work of phycologist Albert Bandura.         

There are many factors that limit ones ability to achieve which either fall in to the the category of physical factors i.e. lack of physical strength or phycological factors.

The Role of Self-Efficacy

Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realise that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.
People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:
  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered.
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate.
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities.
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.
People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:
  • Avoid challenging tasks.
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities.
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes.
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities (Bandura, 1994).

Sources of Self-Efficacy

1. Mastery Experiences

"The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences," Bandura explained (1994). Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

2. Vicarious experience 

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers' beliefs that they too possess the capabilities master comparable activities to succeed” (1994).

3. Social Persuasion

Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to belief that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.

4. Psychological Responses

Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations. However, Bandura also notes "it is not the sheer intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important but rather how they are perceived and interpreted" (1994). By learning how to minimize stress and elevate mood when facing difficult or challenging tasks, people can improve their sense of self-efficacy.

Through out the day these sources were put to the test through various social experiments. the first experiment that we encountered addressed vicarious experience.

A situation was set up that involved a well known elite climber attempting to complete a route repetitively, at the same point during each attempt she fell off. As she tackled the route an audience formed around her observing the forced failure. The majority of people knowing how competent a climber she is simply dismissed the route with the attitude that if Lucy Creamer couldn't complete the route then neither could they. Those who reluctantly attempted the route reached the same point as Lucy then jumped off believing that the last move was unachievable without attempting it. After the session had finished we were told that the experiment had been set up and that the climb was in fact a ridiculously easy grade. Proving that because people couldn't relate their own climbing ability to Lucy's they questioned their own ability. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Robyn Woolston. How to be successful as an artist.

  • Work consistently
  • Read widely 
  • Build bridges
  • Reach out to the people that inspire you
  • Be bold with your creativity
  • Be confident about why you make art  

Thursday, 3 November 2011

My full body scan statistics- Upper body far more developed than my lower body due to climbing, which I need to balance out by running, leg weights, focusing climbing exercises on leg work. 

Personal performance boundaries

I find long term aims daunting and improbable. At this stage the thought of writing a dissertation and putting on a final degree show seem impossible. However by taking big long term aims, slicing them up in to manageable slithers and focusing on each slither in turn makes everything seem achievable.
I have recently been offered a sponsorship to climb with a bouldering team by the Hanger in Liverpool. I've always climbed for enjoyment and never expected to have the opportunity to take my ability to this level of competitiveness. I have been given the opportunity to push my ability to its very limits with professional supervision. Although this is incredibly exiting, like with my other long term goals, thinking about the process of getting to that level of ability currently seems impossible.

The obvious way around this would be to create manageable slithers  

I think that documenting my training process would be a good way of demonstrating how setting boundaries effects creativity and performance.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Mind games

'Why do you climb? Sometimes our motivations, which fuel us at the start of a climbing career, can return to haunt us later on. For example many climbers feel that they are overcoming something or proving something by climbing, which can be very motivating and empowering initially, but unless you are super talented, there will come a point where you can no longer overcome or prove something simply because you cant climb any harder, and the weight of expectation then becomes an double edged sword.

Clinical psychologists have a long history of working with fears and phobias and there is good research evidence to help you match up specific approaches to specific fears. For example, behavioral approaches such as exposing yourself to the thing that frightens you (eg practising falling off if that's what terrifies you) in incremental stages will help you recondition yourself. However, in practice many people find that going straight into exposure can be too difficult.'

Cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT)- Which aim to tackle unhelpful thoughts and undermine the evidence for them through behavioral experiments, can also be helpful and have been proven successful. For example, perhaps your self talk goes along the lines of “this is hard, this is too hard, I can never do overhangs” etc etc, then the approach would be to gather evidence to the contrary of this, eg record times when you have climbed harder and successfully completed overhangs. You would then spend time practicing more helpful self talk so that you can access this in your anxiety-provoking climbing situations. 

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP)- Which also aims to change unhelpful patterns of thinking, where you may use anchoring techniques in different sensory modalities to replace anxiety with relaxation, eg place a sticker on the back of your hand for you to look at when you feel anxious, which you have previously looked at whilst practicing being relaxed.

Mindfulness techniques- Are essentially meditative, but don't require sitting in a quiet place and chanting. Rather, we allow ourselves to be fully present in the moment, connecting with all our sensory experiences. This can be particularly helpful when climbing as attention to all elements of the sensory experience can improve performance. For example, noticing areas of tension and relaxation in our body can ensure the right amount of force is used at the right time and place; paying close visual attention to the rock in front of us can help us spot hidden variations which allow for better positioning, and so on.

Extracts taken from UKC Full article available from-http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=1127 

Next step- To continue with experimental videos based upon the above behavior altering techniques.