I've been climbing now for over two years and started pretty much from scratch. At first I was doing a lot of top roping and really enjoyed it. I started lead climbing with somebody from work and they gave me a few pointers.
At the start of last year, I did a two session technique course at my local indoor centre and everything changed for me. Before I could get to the top of a 6a+ by doing chin ups but the contents of the course was all totally new to me. Because it was so new, and everything seemed a bit rushed in order for the instructor to cover everything that they needed to, I'm not too sure how much I got out of it.
Following on from the course, I purchased Dan Hague's 'Self Coached Climber' which has been great. I've followed the exercises and it's taken about a year to consolidate my learning.
However, my head is all a bit unclear. When I'm on the wall, I'm thinking about whether what I'm doing is correct and on difficult climbs, I still doing a few chin ups.
I am a member of a club and I know how I want to climb, but in terms of learning movement technique, where do I go from here? Should I do another technique course? Get some professional coaching?
Grateful for any advice.
Warming up is a good time to think about technique, because all the moves are easy enough to give you energy to think.
Go slow, and experiment with different ways to make a move as efficient as possible.
You don't tend to learn technique when you're on something really hard because it's too much brainpower.
Professional coaching seems to work for many people. You could ask the more able climbers in your club for pointers. Try the Neil Gresham DVDs, lots of ideas in those. Also look on this site for the articles about how to improve. It is hard to know what will be best for you personally without more information. Here are some ideas:
1) Bouldering to practice movement techniques, on easy moves to begin with, such as flagging, hip twist, handhold variety, toe swivel, using boot edges
2) Practice precise silent footwork
3) Try a route in slow motion
4) Try a not too hard slabby route with one hand only, try no hands. This can help refine movement skills
5) As mentioned above, use the warm up easier routes to focus on technique
6) What type of routes do you like /not like. Slabs, corners, aretes, walls, overhanging, roofs, slopers, laybacks, dynamic. Get onto the ones you don't like but at an easier grade to start
7) Ask people to watch you and ask for pointers
8) Make the effort to visit different walls
9)Have a focus / plan or your improvement and record your progress
10) Climbing more may help, but only if you are using the right techniques
Most importantly,remember to have fun!
> You don't tend to learn technique when you're on something really hard because it's too much brainpower.
Maybe if you are just starting out and don't know how to flag for example but not after two years, I hope.
When bouldering something near limit you can experiment and learn how subtle changes can make the difference between success and failure - a slight change in body position, more dynamic/more static, using a hold in a diffrent way etc. If indoor seek out (or invent) problems with smaller holds and that use features.
I've been climbing for about 10 months, and I can understand your point. I've not had any coaching and I don't know any experienced climbers, but I have watched various videos, read books and articles etc. on technique.
I also find that my natural instinct is just to heave up on holds as hard as I can, and I have to think and make a conscious effort to use e.g. twist lock or flagging. It does make things much easier when using good form though, so in that respect it's quite satisfying and self-reinforcing. But, when things get tough I struggle to not resort to my bad habits. This is especially the case on lead (having only had two or three lead sessions at the wall), as my main thought is just get the next clip and don't fall off!
I'd suggest indoor bouldering to work on the technique, as you can jump on and off, trying different techniques without having to climb up to a particular section, so you get more time spent on the bits you want to work on.
Definitely. I think it's crucial to practice moves that you can only do with perfect technique i.e. moves you have to try scores of times before you find the exact right position that means you don't fall off.
In climbing routes, you can climb with bad technique and then get tired. Not a very useful drill unless your aim is to reinforce bad technique. In short boulder problems at your absolute limit, you either get the technique for the move perfect or you fall off - much more useful, plus you'll develop finger strength and power which you'll be able to employ on hard routes once your technique is better.
Also, try climbing while making absolutely no sound with your feet. Place each foot gently on absolutely the best part each hold as you climb, so you never need to readjust ("silent feet"). This you can do warming up or traversing, not on problems at your limit. While you're doing a bit of "silent feet", concentrate on keeping your arms straight, and resting between moves on good holds by getting your weight in the least strenuous position and staying there for a few breaths. A good 20 minute warm up like this, followed by bouldering at your limit (watching how the best climbers at the wall do the problems and seeing if their egyptians/flagging/twistlocking moves work for you) could bring big gains in technique.
Think of hand holds as more for balance and concentrate on moving your feet. Hopefully that will train you to think with your feet first (and hence body position). Eventually it will all become more natural feeling.
Get yourself to a bouldering wall, get nicely warmed up while you experiment with body position, grip, movement and momentum. Pause on the holds and work out the positions and tension/pressure that is required to free up each limb in turn. Basically just play for half an hour.
Once you're warmed up find a handful of problems that require some work. Some that you'll get that evening, some you'll have to come back for. Start figuring out the moves one or two at a a time with a real focus on making each bit as easy as it can be even if you've already managed to string it together with some slaps and feet off monkeying :) Each time a move gets easier try to figure out why.
Add in a couple of mates also working the moves and sharing their thoughts and the process really speeds up, it's also a lot less dull.
Repeat until bored then work out a new game.
or.. buy some nice rock shoes that fit, then you'll be able to climb well and learn to what extent, and how best, you can use your feet. Artificially handicapping yourself will just make climbing a bit miserable and might actually interfere with learning how to use footholds well?
The miserable bit is true for a few sessions, but you quickly get over it when you notice it's working.
I still use good shoes for harder routes, and after a few switches, I really have noticed I'm placing my feet better.
Also, shoes with thick hard rubber can be found cheap, so you don't trash your good shoes when your training.
Another thing to remember is that good technique takes a long time to commit to muscle memory. A phrase oftern used in the world of martial arts is that it takes 1000 repatitions to create good muscle memory and 10000 to correct bad technique. So make sure that you do the move right every time or time training on the wall could be just time making bad technique habit (as well as getting a little stronger.)
One thing I have notice is that climbing, as a relatively 'young' sport, seems to focus much less on coaching and much more on people saying just spend time doing it. Even when I cycled (which you could argue has less of a technique element), we would spend hours looking at slowmotion video's of our pedalling action, body position etc, trying to get it perfect, as it is seen as just as important (well nearly) as time on the bike.
Interesting question. Strikes me that the degree of freedom in climbing (as in, you can put your limbs pretty much where you like) means that the 'just
practice' approach probably has merit. You need to unconsciously learn how the body positions feel that put the least stress on your muscles. A bit of basic movement coaching could help (after climbing about 10 years I was taught about climbing on opposites, and that helped - but not in terms of measurable improvement) but I don't think it would make a real difference to the grades people climb.
Elsewhere on the site
This streamlined, midweight thermal layer has an incredibly speedy moisture wicking ability and dries ultra fast if it gets... Read more
Climbing as a discipline offers plentiful metaphors for tackling life's obstacles - bravery, courage, climbing to... Read more
October 21, 2014 – Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry,... Read more
The B.D.V. — short for Black Diamond Vertical — jacket and pants are Black Diamond’s most versatile climbing... Read more
In tonight's Friday Night Video, we see Alex Honnold soloing Heaven 5.12d in Yosemite Valley. The route starts 3000ft above the... Read more