/ Tip for a Noob
I think the best thing is safe falling experience but just more and more experience will help you to relax on holds. You could take a tight rope and practice relaxing until you fall off/let go to experience the different amount of grip needed.
A 'standard' tip is to stand upright on the holds so that your weight goes through your feet. Don't lean in to the wall as this leads to you holding on too tightly. In time you will learn (your climbing technique will prove very rapidly at first) to relax a bit more and can then start to use your strength more efficiently. Good luck!
1. Consciously relax, you said it yourself
2. Body positioning eg. turn hips in on steep ground, don't hang arse out
3. Route reading - look and think ahead, hand and foot positions in particular
4. Pacing - it's not a race but don't hang around on difficult sections, think about breaking routes down and climbing between rests/good holds, set yourself up before hard/steep sections and climb through them fairly quickly if possible
5. Footwork - very important to get good precise footwork (though that in itself may not be your problem re getting pumped).
Spotted a likely foothold? keep your eyes on it *until* your foot is planted. Them buggers move all over the place.
oh yes, don't hang around on bent arms - straight arms to avoid the pump ! Will often mean keeping body in what feels like a "low" position.
Try climbing while holding a tennis ball in one hand. Start off doing this on easy slabby routes. And you can build up to climbing with a tennis ball in both hands. That way you don't have much choice about using your arms!
Yes I noticed that you had conquered that last time I saw you at the wall :-)
Try a course run by Rebecca at smarter climbing.co.uk, that will arm you with all the tricks you need.
Fall lots. Practice falling. Keep falling until falling or not falling isn't a big deal.
I need to do this :( I still get nervous when the last bolt is belly my feet. Lead or top roping, fear of falling seems to affect a lot of people.
I'm not really bothered about falling in terms of safety (indoors only at present), have fallen plenty of times. I just find a really annoying inconvenience which is why I don't like it.
First and foremost this will improve with experience, the more time you spend doing something the more relaxed you get about doing it. It's not something you really want or need to rush and with it comes obvious the danger of complacency.
That said, you mention you're gripping too hard which is a common problem. It really helps to know how little grip is needed to stay in contact, that way when you identify the problem you can relax in relative confidence and shake out. It sounds easy but even experienced climbers regularly get it wrong.
Over-gripping can also be a symptom of poor body and foot positioning. Getting your feet right and your weight over them can really unload your hands. With enough body tension and the right footholds you can basically get a hands off rest on even vertical ground.
The exercise I find useful for this is traversing but working in some ups and downs on reasonably good holds, nothing too steep. It makes for a good warm-up too. As I move I focus on shifting my weight around and sometimes grip around to unload the limb I want to move. Moving slowly and methodically, always in control even for moves that require a little momentum, helps ingrain this. Aim to place your hands and feet right first time, it won't always happen and often as your weight subsequently shifts so will your contact patches but it's a good aim. All the while you're trying to stay relaxed, to avoid getting too pumped. Relax your grip, shake out between moves and even mid move once you've achieved the slow steady progress you're aiming for. If you misjudge it and slip off then there's no harm done, it's not a route failed or a proper fall.
The next problem comes in applying this calm fluid style to more stressful positions, on lead, pulling up slack to clip etc. Again there's no substitute for experience but building trust in your kit and most importantly partner by experiencing some controlled falls.
Not really answering your question, but don't panic too much about getting to 6a. I found it took me ages to jump from consistent 5+ to consistent 6a - at least a year - the techniques and extra strength required at the walls I'm familiar with are significant.
Oddly, once you are firmly in the 6s, getting to 6a+/6b doesn't seem anywhere near as hard. Not succeeded at a 6c yet sadly.
One thing you could try (mainly to cure the over-gripping) is to focus solely on your grip as you climb. As in - look at your hand, and consciously ask yourself if you're gripping the hold too tightly. If yes, then ease it up some before you move on. Just concentrate on each hand like this as you climb.
I find when doing this the feet follow quite naturally with just a glance for finding the footholds. I also find that I forget to worry about falling off.
Just make sure you remember to clip as you go up.
Once mastered you can do similar with your feet to improve your footwork (ie. to eliminate bounce, and to place feet accurately, etc).
Though thanks to all that have commented on this thread, I'm trying to take the advice but might take a while for it all to sink in :-)
Some walls have that issue (I didn't really enjoy going to XC when it had just opened, because their entire main lead wall was lacking in 5s). Big Rock, the Beacon, Northampton and Redpoint (to name 4) seem to have plenty.
Even when you're getting better, there's still a benefit to climbing lower grades - trying to climb them in a smoother and nicer looking way improves your overall technique.
 I see leading separately from your grade rather than the US centric view that you need to be good before you start leading. I wasn't consistently 5+ when I started leading, and I tend to encourage people onto it once they are comfortable and confident on the wall, even if that's only in the 5s.
* relax. Getting wnxious makes you tense, being tense makes you over grip. Relax as much as you can and you will find you overgrip less.
* climb more 5+. Hit differing styles of 5+ indoors and climb them slowly, deliberately and with poise. Use these to increase your accuracy and to develop your relaxed style. As the 5+ is within your ability you won't worry about the grips so much and can set the habits you'll want to help the 6 grades.
* chat. Hold a conversation with your belayer while climbing indoors. Takes your mind off it and allows your body to climb more naturally. I always start chatting now when I'm overthinking a move and it really does help.
* trust yourself. Biggest tip and the one I have trouble with most. You likely already can climb grade 6 - it really isn't a huge leap from 5+
* Do some bouldering. Yes, the climbing and grading is different but trust me - it helped me overcome the 5 to 6 barrier and taught me a lot about centre of gravity and body weighting for those awkward moves that will be more frequently encountered on grade 6.
* get outdoors. Go top roping at a local crag. Seriously, experiencing real rock is a huge confidence boost to your indoor climbing which helps with the mind games.
There ae a few things you might want to think about. Is the over gripping generated by stress or lack of experience? if lack of experience, you need to just climb more and learn to position yourself below the hold or to the side of it rather than close to them, forcing yourself to loosen your grip.
If your over gripping is encouraged by stress, have a think of developing some kind of refocussing techniques For instance, when your at points in your climbing where you experience a high state of stress or anxiety, you have something that you do, in order to re focus your attention towards the climbing. Examples such as when i start to get stressed i hum to myself of which re focusses and relaxes me. I know other climbers that at places where they have are stressed the have an elastic band on their wrist of which they ping, others chalk up at points of stress. its about finding what works for you.
Hope this helps in some way.
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