/ Coaching advice for a confident VS leader

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dr_botnik - on 31 Oct 2012
I have been climbing for about 10 years, with lots of gaps as life has got in the way. For the past 18 months I've really dedicated my time to the sport (mostly due to an indoor wall being built in my hometown and allowing me to train weekly) and have pushed my grade, both indoor and out.

I tend to climb F6a indoors, and have led several HVS's (including Goliath's Groove) however often feel frustrated at not pushing myself outside. I often feel I am capable of climbing harder than VS, but when I do try, I find myself second guessing decent gear placements and failing to really commit, or conversely running the tank to empty fiddling gear on sustained routes and having to then rest. Also I love to boulder, but the majority of problems are just out my price range at Font 6 and above.

Would people either recommend:

a) Doing an SPA course, as this will help improve my ropework/make me a safer climber, but will the instructor have anytime to focus on my climbing technique? And is this really the best way I could improve myself for my hobby, when I'm not really wanting to pursue the qualification for a career?

b) Hiring a professional coach for a session(s), bearing in mind I would prefer coaching on real rock and this will probably make this option quite expensive and logistically difficult (just doing a quick search and a 5 day course at Plas Y Brenin is 725, phew)

c) Just carry on climbing with slightly more experienced partners and training until my grade improves slightly and technique coaching becomes a more worthwhile prospect aka MTFU.

d) Something I'm missing?


My overall goal has been UK Tech 6a, but I'm currently lacking any mileage at 5b and 5c just seems to shut me down on lead. Maybe its just a case that the grass is always greener on the other side, but I'd really like to climb some sea cliffs, or travel somewhere beautiful like kalymnos or the verdon and I can't help but feel I need to improve a bit to get the most out of those venues.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any tidbits of advice, tips, or sage wisdom the UKC community has to offer, Rob.
jezb1 - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik: SPA is pretty irrelevant really and there would be no real technique coaching.

Im sure the PYB course would be good but very expensive!

Why not speak to someone like Mark Reeves who posts on here about some coaching days?

Or finally climb with people who push you more!
AlH - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik: Agree the SPA is not the way to go for what you seem to be after. Another vote for private coaching with Mark Reeves or Smart Climbing (the latest blog entry might be of interest).
http://snowdoniamountainguides.com
http://www.smartclimbing.co.uk/blog.html
jkarran - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:

> I tend to climb F6a indoors, and have led several HVS's (including Goliath's Groove) however often feel frustrated at not pushing myself outside. I often feel I am capable of climbing harder than VS, but when I do try, I find myself second guessing decent gear placements and failing to really commit, or conversely running the tank to empty fiddling gear on sustained routes and having to then rest. Also I love to boulder, but the majority of problems are just out my price range at Font 6 and above.
> Would people either recommend:

> a) Doing an SPA course...
No. It's not even tangentially related to what you're looking for, it's a group supervision qualification.

> b) Hiring a professional coach for a session...
Could be helpful, depends how good the coach is and how you respond to it in the medium term.

> ...a 5 day course at Plas Y Brenin is 725, phew)
Yikes. Sounds like my idea of hell!

> c) Just carry on climbing with slightly more experienced partners and training until my grade improves...
To climb harder you need to be getting on harder routes and seeing others do the same. It's much harder to have the self belief doing it alone. Whatever other action you take it needs to be combined with getting on harder routes with inspiring partners.

> d) Something I'm missing?
If you love bouldering why don't you focus on it a little over the winter, those Ft6s won't be far out of reach.

And if your main focus is trad why not start mixing in some sport in the spring, get comfortable making challenging moves above your clips.

> My overall goal has been UK Tech 6a, but I'm currently lacking any mileage at 5b and 5c just seems to shut me down on lead. Maybe its just a case that the grass is always greener on the other side, but I'd really like to climb some sea cliffs

Try some! 5a/b tech gains you access to quite a lot of good climbing.
jk
kirsten on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to AlH: PYB are good, but you're in a group or pair and they insist on getting back for tea and cake at silly o'clock. You will probably get as much out of 2 days with a privately arranged instructor who is not clock-watching. Let me know if u want a name.
Jackwd - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik: I'm always up for pushing my trad grade mate, give me a shout the next time you're out and about.
lithos on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:

> Would people either recommend:
>
> a) Doing an SPA course,
no

> b) Hiring a professional coach for a session(s),
maybe/probably/yes/sort of check out the AMI website, there are many good coaches, also some stars like Adrian Berry (google) offer a moneyback guarantee in the peak (which is close to you)

> c) Just carry on climbing with slightly more experienced partners
this is a good plan- get on seom harder routes as a 2nd, and get a hit list and be prepared to fail on a few.

AlH - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik

> To climb harder you need to be getting on harder routes and seeing others do the same. It's much harder to have the self belief doing it alone. Whatever other action you take it needs to be combined with getting on harder routes with inspiring partners.
>

That is good advice.
GridNorth - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik: I find that just getting the mileage in helps loads but then I have no prospect of climbing 8a and I am content if I can climb E2 although getting back to E4 would be nice. I can usually manage trad 5b moves even after a lay-off but like you 5c can shut me down. I'm not saying coaching is a waste of time and money but I suspect that the benefits are more significant on sport than trad and probably more so beyond F6c. For trad you can't beat just doing more and always remember that many people advocating coaching are pushing a commercial interest and will of course expound it's benefits.

John
Monk - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:

Firstly, ignore the SPA. It is an award for instructing/supervising and won't help your current situation in the slightest.

Professional coaching may be useful, and will help you to identify areas to improve. However, it is expensive and I don't believe it is 100% useful until you have hit a major plateau.

Keeping going as you are will give you a slow rise, but it won't be the most efficient.

Your "d) something I'm missing" seems to be the most obvious choice to me.

First up - if you are only climbing 6a indoors but doing HVS outdoors, I would say that you don't have a major disparity in grade. Unless you aren't pushing yourself indoors at all, I'd say that your head must be pretty good for trad. Trad skills such as ropework, placing gear, route tactics etc all get better with mileage, although being aware of what you are doing and analysing things afterwards (both positive and negative) will help speed up the process (Eg. "did I pump out placing unnecessary gear at the crux?" "did I use the rests well?" "Did I climb the steep bit fast then relax on the slab?").

I would say that if you want to get better, it is worth investigating applying some structure to your training. It's not a matter of going to the wall and climbing a few routes, you have to apply some targets. THere is loads of information available on the internet and in books on this, so a few hours spent reading and researching are probably the first step. Then develop a structure to suit your goals. This structure doesn't have to be very detailed, but should be something that makes sure you increase the intensity of your climbg, to get your body to get stronger/fitter. Also, don't forget that a focus on technique is never wasted.

To be honest, I think the first step in any road to improvement probably starts with bouldering. This will get you stronger, get you used to trying really hard and allows you to really focus on learning and applying technique.



dr_botnik - on 31 Oct 2012
Cheers to all who've responded, some good pointers and lots of good motivation for the short days ahead.

By writing this out, it also helped exorcise some of my own daemons... A little catharsis never hurt. Sometimes a long hard look in the mirror is the best place to start, so I think thats what I'll do.

Also I can't help but realise a guide is gonna charge me alot of money to just tell me what a good partner does anyway i.e. you placed a piece there when you were only hip height with the last bit on a strenuous section, telling you when to just go for it, etc. Might be worth saving my pennies for a bit atleast. Still, thanks for the recommendations on the guides, I'll keep them in mind.
IanMcC - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:
"Train" twice weekly. Find partner willing or able. Choose routes with good gear. Try.
Rollo - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:

Go to Swanage! Loads of amazing sea-cliff climbs at HS, VS and HVS
kirsten on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to dr_botnik: For me, a guide was much, much more than that - a process of working out what was going on in my head that was stopping me climbing at my potential - it's a case of finding the right one.
Owen W-G - on 01 Nov 2012
My tuppence: you won't move UP a grade until you get ON higher graded routes.

The hard part is to make yourself rack up and start off up an HVS when an easy life is available.

To do that, you have to be sure a) you won't hurt yourself, and b) it doesn't matter too much if you fail.

Judging from your log, you get out quite a bit (more regularly than me) and mostly in the peak. As a rule of thumb, if you can regularly and reliably OS at a grade (VS in your case) you'll be ready to move up to the next one.

I'd draw up a well-pro hit list for Stanage, for example, and plan each visit around executing one a route from your list.

Warm up thoroughly first.

One other tip: when I was breaking E1 on grit, I often used to make the mistake of warming up on HVS first. I would find it hard/scary then lose some confidence about my ability to ramp it up a notch. Instead, warm up by getting mileage in your comfort zone (S-HS) or maybe repeating a VS you know you can cruise, then going for it on HVS. Lesson: don't have a hard time trying to OS a VS, because it'll put you off getting on the HVS!

ps Stanage tips - Lancashire Wall and Centre Stage both worth a look in
nniff - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:

Pretty much what everyone else has said.

I'd be inclined to go to Wales and get on some longer routes for several reasons - you'll get some mileage in, and when you do get to a harder bit, the easiest option will be to crack on and get it done instead of backing off.

A day with an instructor there may well pay dividends, not least of all because you stand a better chance of choosing more appropriate routes.

Finally, push harder. No-one ever said that it should be easy, and the grades are harder for a reason. Don't expect it to feel the same except for the glow of satisfaction at the end.
rustaldo - on 01 Nov 2012
If you want to climb harder, climb more often.
Go to the indoor wall more times per week.
Dave McLeod (or someone similar) said/wrote something along the lines of:

If you want to improve quickly, climb 4 times a week.
If you want to improve, climb 3 times a week.
If you want to maintain your current standard, climb 2 times a week.

Something to that effect anyway.

I noticed a massive improvement in my climbing this year, and the only change I made was to go to the wall more often.

Although don't go from one session a week to back to back everyday sessions. Everything in moderation etc.
GrahamD - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:

To improve, I think you have to regularly climb with someone supportive who climbs at least a grade harder than you.
Monk - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to dr_botnik)
>
> To improve, I think you have to regularly climb with someone supportive who climbs at least a grade harder than you.

That is one way of doing it, but not the only way. I've very rarely climbed with anyone who climbs harder than me, but I think the psyche to try hard does come more easily when you are with equally motivated people. I firmly believe that your primary motivation and drive has to come from within.
EeeByGum - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to dr_botnik: Here's a radical step. Why not drop your grade to about V Diff but try to cover as much ground as you can? If you can solo, even better. Focus on moving on the rock and if you are leading, placing gear quickly and efficiently. It is the climbing that matters, not the faffing. Try and have a couple of really intensive days where you gobble up 20 - 30 routes in a day (Peak type routes), then have a rest and hit an easyish HVS. You will be amazed! :-)

Good luck.
GrahamD - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to Monk:

> That is one way of doing it, but not the only way.

Of course not - different people have different ways of getting motivated. All I can say is that at the points where my grade improved, I was definately climbing with better climbers at the time. Partially because I got to climb harder routes but mainly, I think, I felt I had to try in their presence.
neilh - on 01 Nov 2012
In reply to dr_botnik:
c) but harsher. Dump your mates and find a group who are better than you, your grade will rapidly improve by climbing with them if you are motivated.

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