I have a goal to get my trad level at devils lake up to the 5.8 level this coming year. My question is should I also work on climbing hard sport routes or top rope harder routes, or is concentrating on one thing the best approach. I would love to sport lead an 11 but is working on trad and sport at the same time to much or work against each other in any way.
After working on that other thread, my reading comprehension has climbed. Do all of the above Mike, but remember that placing pro does not mean the pro will work if you fall. You have to get good at making the pro work and good at taking the time to place enough of it. That can take more endurance of course. Placing as much pro as you would have on most sport climbs will make you feel like a pussy, but that will give you an idea of how much protection most Sport climbs provide. There are lots of people that stuff sh#t into cracks and have no clue about what they are doing.
You can always get better on trad routes by doing the same thing we do bouldering, skipping a hold here and there, but don't skip the pro. Learn pro by practicing placement without evening climbing, and/or learning to aid climb to really see what your pro is doing. After you do all that, then you might understand why a few crazy people Free-Solo, but don't free-solo till you do all of this other crap.
Go for routes that you get excited about. As others said, bouldering can get you strong. But I think it also can help you with head game when boulders are tall. Do more trad to help you with your head...or go ice climbing lol.
Exposure does all sorts of tricks to your head, especially if the climbing does not feel secure. My old G/F bailed off Squiggles (yup, 5.4) in the Gunks while on an hour earlier she got up the Trashcan Overhang (5.11/V2) on top rope.
Oh, as bouldering goes. Do it, it does make you strong but does nothing for your leading head. I boulder way harder stuff then I would ever lead, even sport. Though, if you are chasing numbers, there are many 5.11/5.12s that are actually boulder problems which continue into an easy route, e.g. Gunks is full of these. Also, bouldering is a door that's pretty hard to close. Once you discover that you can move on rock without the hassle of ropes/racks/belays, you might never go back :D
Lots of folks have been that guy, mike526....I'd say just hang at one of those stances for a minute, set a good nut or whatever, BREATHE, and set off again. Confidence ain't immediate for most people. You must encourage its growth. Just like anything you plant.
It will bloom if you keep after it.