Nathaniel Coleman discovered his love for competition climbing at 9 years old, and at 21 has already made a name for himself with three bouldering nationals titles under his belt. For Coleman, he advocates creating the right mental head space before competitions in order to climb your best.

“It’s a really nice balance of a physical and mental challenge,” said Coleman.

When Coleman is on the wall trying to figure out the best bouldering route, he takes each move one step at a time rather than be overwhelmed about the near impossible climb.

“It has such an element of problem solving, and in order to be mentally prepared for that you need to be calm minded but also kind of fierce at times I think,” said Coleman.

With the 2020 Summer Olympics including rock climbing for the first time, Coleman and other competitive climbers around the world are preparing for the new format. It’s a little controversial and includes three disciplines: bouldering, line climbing, and speed climbing.

“The fact that you have to compete in all three disciplines is not ideal. I think I’m not alone in the climbing community when I say I’m speed climbing because I have to,” said Coleman.

It’s rare for professional climbers to excel in all three disciplines. While Coleman is practicing his speed climbing, he is also making sure his mind is just as prepared.

“The top 25% of competitors in nationals and in world cups are strong enough to win but the thing that decides who wins is who has the better head game,” said Coleman.

With the Olympics on his mind, Nathaniel constantly reminds himself of his motto.

“Don’t climb not to fall, climb to climb your best,” said Coleman.

Nathaniel’s next competition will be in January at the Combined Invitational in Salt Lake City. If he does well and keeps that razor sharp focus, he could climb one step closer to the Olympic Qualifiers.

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