3 cool tricks to tackle the mental game of impossible obstacles

Warped Wall - American Ninja Warrior

You’re getting the height… you just need to commit.

I’ve been getting this exact advice a lot lately… there are a heap of obstacles I’m know I can physically do, I’m just not getting it done.


The mental game is probably the hardest part of our little sport here.  Obstacles are designed to be daunting, they’re designed to be problems that you need to figure out. The good ones are designed to force your body to move in ways it never has before.  All other sports have movements that you can train and practice until you smash ’em out in your sleep.  The amazing thing about Ninja Warrior is that we have no idea what we’re up against, and that means that fear is actually always going to be the biggest obstacle.

You need to be attempting obstacles you can’t do on the regular. Otherwise Australian Ninja Warrior will be too much.


Here are some tricks to help you master the mental.


1.) Progressively practice

I’ve been trying to jump my hands up this ladder every Saturday morning for the last few weeks.

Adam Waring Campus Ladder

(Mini-video here)

I’d do the first 3 rungs fine, and then always puss out on the 4th.

This Saturday though, I just did it. Basically all my pussing out and practicing helped me develop the required strength, and helped me get comfortable leaping with my hands that high off the ground.  If you can’t do something first try… great, it gives you a little project to push yourself, but don’t stress too much about not getting it… just keep working at it in little steps until you feel confident to really go for it.  It’ll come, just keep chippin’ away.


2.) Make a game of it

One of the guys I was training with during the week was saying that he super struggled with the warped wall.  He just couldn’t do it.

Warped Wall - American Ninja Warrior

He then had a group of kids that he was helping run up and down the warped wall, and so he made a game of any spot they touched, he had to touch.  The kids loved it because they were trying to outdo him, and it got him out of the head-space of what he could and couldn’t do, and just focused on the immediate goal of playing with these kids.  One of the older kids eventually made it to the top and then of course, so did this guy.  He told me he totally forgot he’d never done it before, he was just playing the game.

Either with friends or by your lonesome, try and make a game where the objective isn’t even remotely as daunting as doing a super hard obstacle. It’s a way more fun way to train.


3.) Get yourself an audience.

Soooo, if you’re drawn to Ninja Warrior, I’d guess that you don’t mind showing off every now and then….  amiright?   Good, use it.

Adam Waring - Rope Jump

(Mini-video here)

I’d been trying to lache to this rope for a while… and was totally annoying myself that I couldn’t do it. It made me angry, and frustrated, and then I decided to film it for this post.  That’s when I nailed it and have been able to do it every time since.  Basically, ‘performing’ an obstacle to anyone absolutely helps you get out of the cannot head-space and right smack into dazzle showtime.  I’ve even noticed it when I’ve been struggling to do my last set of pullups or something, and someone I know walks in, suddenly my form is perfect and my energy is high.

A heap of times I’ve pulled someone over, even if I barely know them, to watch me attempt an obstacle and see if they can see what’s going wrong…. only to smash it with pizazz.  It’s the exact same but opposite of calling the IT guy over to help you, only for your computer to suddenly be angelic and totally not do the thing that’s been driving you crazy all morning.


The mental game is brutal, hell, it’s really what professional sports are all about.  A guy was telling me that he had no issues with the Salmon Ladder, until he came off once and the bar hit him in the head… now he can’t do it… and he even has one in his backyard and can’t do that one either.   Mastery of the mental game is as important as developing strength and technique… you really can’t do anything until you’ve both dialed in.

It’s definitely my biggest area to improve on, but now I’ve got some tricks I indeed to smash it.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *