/ Tip for a Noob

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chrisa87 - on 26 Sep 2013
I've just started climbing regularly, but I'm having a few problems in my head, can anyone give any tips? I think I'm trying to hold on too tight and becoming pumped in my forearms which is affecting me. What are the best ways to get my head sorted whilst on the wall? (currently climbing 5/5+ but hoping to get a couple of 6a's in the next month or so?)

Cheers
puppythedog on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87: are you leading or top roping?

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.
Darron - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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!
Mr. K - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87: The golden rule is it's all about your feet! You need to work on your footwork and body positioning to take the weight off your arms, that will help you relax a bit and stop any over-gripping. There's a few good articles online about improving your footwork but the thing that works for me is watching someone who's a lot better than you are and try imitating their footwork style. Enjoy! =o)
Skyfall - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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).
999thAndy on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

Spotted a likely foothold? keep your eyes on it *until* your foot is planted. Them buggers move all over the place.
Skyfall - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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.
GridNorth - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87: If you are talking about indoors try climbing with "quite feet". Most novices make a right old racket on the plywood when they are climbing. Aim to only place your foot once and make it count so that you don't have to make any adjustments. I can't think of a way to describe this better but over concentrate on your feet. This not only helps you to place them correctly it also takes your mind off the pain in your arms. Try climbing statically and slowly. I see many climbers getting up hard routes on what can only be described as enthusiasm and adrenaline which does not help to develop good technique.
chrisa87 - on 26 Sep 2013
Thanks very much to all. I think I've been keeping my body weight out too far whilst I've been trying to keep straight arms. The feet thing is a good call, will try and be silent and precise. (I do find I kick the wall a lot)

Cheers :-)
jack_44 - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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!
puppythedog on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to chrisa87: All of the other posts about footwork are more important than mine, try doing all of them though. I think silent feet made the biggest difference in my climbing closely followed by reducing my fear of falling.
GridNorth - on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to puppythedog:
> (In reply to chrisa87) closely followed by reducing my fear of falling.

Yes I noticed that you had conquered that last time I saw you at the wall :-)
puppythedog on 26 Sep 2013
In reply to GridNorth: I just need to get over my fear of succeeding now :-)
chriskinvig - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

Try a course run by Rebecca at smarter climbing.co.uk, that will arm you with all the tricks you need.
needvert on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:


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.
chrisa87 - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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.
puppythedog on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87: Perhaps you are more afraid of failing on the route then? It matters too much thta you get up that time. If it mattered less maybe you would grip less and be more likey to succeed?
jkarran - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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.

jk
Neil Williams - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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.

Neil
Calder - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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).
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chrisa87 - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Neil Williams: Funnily enough since my first post, I've decided to become much more consistent on the 5+'s to develop strength and practise the wider range of moves rather trying to push onto 6a and failing climb after climb. Sometimes I find that there are not that many 5's at a wall though, anyone else notice this?

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 :-)
Neil Williams - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

Some walls have that issue (I didn't really enjoy going to XC when it had just opened, because their entire main lead[1] 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.

[1] 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.

Neil
dl_wraith - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87: I found that I was struggling to get back to 6a standard because of head-games. I put it in my own head that my knees/left hand weren't going to hold, so they invariably didn't. To get over this I tried a couple of things:

* 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.
will - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to chrisa87:

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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