Performance Potential is Flexibility Dependent [5]

11-year-old Brooke Raboutou is a rock climbing phenom who regularly breaks world records on elite bouldering and sport climbs once thought impossible for someone her age.

With two former world champion climbers for parents and coaches, Brooke’s pedigree is unmatched. Now she has set her sights on pushing both herself and the climbing world to even greater heights.

Key point from the video: the “secret” to Brooke’s ability… “she has been able to maintain that almost baby flexibility where she can twist and turn into positions which the average climber is not able to do.”

Brooke maintains her flexibility… there is no reference to her being abnormal, double jointed, or ‘baby I was born this way’.  The point is that she trains flexibility. Perhaps she was blessed with a wider range of motion to start – no different than Michael Phelps – but like all of us, our flexibility must be challenged daily in order to be retained, in order for its sharpness, its explosiveness, its utility to be available on demand.

If you aren’t stretching, then you will not experience your peak potential.  It is that simple.  So why train without significant time spent developing and maintaining flexibility?Bouldering_001

Considering the challenges competition brings at the international level, there is every reason to make flexibility a priority: its a prime training tool for active recovery, it develops introspection and self awareness skills, it adds to range of motion decreasing the amount of muscular force required to execute movement (i.e. increases endurance), or generate power (i.e. thus increasing strength and speed).  If athletes are looking for a skill set to distinguish themselves from competitors, to give themselves an edge in competition, then flexibility is the tool.

Athletes, trainers, and coaches falling back on the age old adage that flexibility is simply a form of ‘talent’, that you are either born with or not, are lying to themselves.  Such an attitude towards flexibility reveals the fear of pursuing true potential.  True potential is hidden beneath the rigidity and brittleness of a fixed mind, body, and spirit.  Athletes who seek their potential cannot run away from their fears, from their inflexibility. Athletes who desire to discover their potential must seek above all: freedom from fear.Bouldering_002

There is no amount of external toughness, no single max rep weight, no speed nor pace that will allow you to escape fear, the more you build yourself up against fear, the stronger it becomes. The more you train against fear the more you will feed your anxieties, your anger, fears of inadequacy, insufficiency, of failing, and being a failure.

How is 11 year old Brooke able to outperform elite rockclimbers?  How is it that 13, 14 and 15 year olds qualify, compete, and medal at the Olympics?  They have conquered fear, because they have been mentored and have learnt to confront fear.  Freedom from fear finds symmetry in freedom to move, to think, and to feel without limitation.  Physical freedom allows champions to bend, twist, and out manoeuvre those who may be mightier but less flexible. Mental freedom allows champions to engineer solutions where others are overwhelmed by the problems.  Emotional freedom allows champions to retain objectivity, where the fear of others causes them to choke or panic, seizing up and falling short, not for lack of potential, but from emotional intolerance and inflexibility.

In the classic film A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by his deceased business partner Jacob Marley who hopes to save Scrooge from a fate of wearing the chains forged in life from living in fear. Chains which burden, which harden the heart, the mind, and the body.


To free himself, Scrooge needed a change of heart, a change in mindset, and behaviour…. he had to soften his stance.

Free yourself from fear to experience the fullness of your potential… flexibility training will challenge you by confronting you with your limits, with your definition of who you are and what you are capable of achieving.  By challenging those self narrated limits you will find that only they stand in your way, only they stand between you and your potential.

1 thought on “Performance Potential is Flexibility Dependent [5]

  1. MGrodski Post author

    Oakville’s Galloway wins provincial climbing title — doing it her way…

    Click here for the article at

    Excerpt from the article:
    Galloway’s days as a gymnast set her up well for climbing, her flexibility setting her apart from her rivals. That ability to contort herself into a position to reach a hold or push herself up the wall opens up some of the creative options she takes in plotting her routes. She has other advantages as well. “She’s super strong,” Lewis says. “I can beat all the guys in my class in arm wrestling,” Galloway says with pride. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the things Galloway enjoys the most is climbing upside down, where her strength is tested the most. Physical attributes aside, Lewis says Galloway’s love of the sport may be the most important part in her success. “She’s just so determined and never gives up. Her work ethic is off the charts,” he says. “Because she’s in such a fun environment, I think she can focus so well. She’s a mental ninja.”

    Do you seek peak performance?
    Do you seek your potential?
    Do you want a spirit of joy while on your journey of exploration?

    Then pursue flexibility… in body, mind and spirit. Flexibility yields strength. Flexibility offers freedom from fear, from hate, it opens one to love so that challenges are accepted and engaged, not avoided. Flexibility opens the mind to creative problem solving resulting in a “mental ninja”. Flexibility results in endurance allowing an athlete to persevere, to continue working when others have long left the gym, the pool, the track, the climbing wall.

    To pursue your potential, pursue freedom, pursue flexibility.

    Click here for a link to highlights from the Youth Bouldering Camada – 2015 Nationals.

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