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Topic - Fall training

fire_munki on 24 Jun 2014
Right, I know where my issues lie (freezing up, just not moving etc) need some good fall practise as outlined by coaching, Dave Macleod's book, interweb. But inside my head all I can see is me smashing into the holds/rock face as I go down.

So I need practise, lots of it from reading, but what to practise on? I've been doing a bit sporadically on a very overhanging wall (at the Barn near Plymski if that helps), however as a f5+ / vdiff climber the chances of me trying a climb that overhanging outside varies somewhere between none and zero.

So what should the wall look like? Vertical? A few degrees over vertical? A slab? The next question is how to do the fall itself in training? I know what happens when I actually fall but should I push off, if so how much?
Ramblin dave - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

To be honest, if you're not getting onto steep enough ground that you can safely fall off, then fall practice probably isn't going to help. You're head's telling you the right thing here - taking a lob on a slabby or ledgey route is probably going to hurt a lot.

Practising big falls on trad gear is getting onto very dodgy ground indeed - there might only be a small chance that you've messed up your placement in some way, but the odds are that if you keep taking practice lobs onto trad gear then something will give sooner or later, and it's unlikely to end well for you. It's also on ethically dodgy ground as it could potentially damage the placements for the next person climbing there.

I'm not a coach, but maybe stick to falling off big juggy overhangs indoors until you've got the strength and technique to get onto steeper ground outdoors?
fire_munki on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I think you might have missed my point (or more likely I made it badly) I don't aim to fall off outside and haven't yet (bar a couple slips, one of which chipped my ankle which hasn't helped my head game) however fall practise has been recommended, since I've frozen up/struggled to move about the bolt sport climbs.

As such inside would be the place to do it, and then the choice is what style wall to practise on?
Sally Bustyerface - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

I think you might have missed Ramblin dave's point that taking practise falls on slabby (and vertical) indoor routes can end up being painful due to the large, hard, plastic blobby things that stick out from the wall.

I'm personally happy taking indoor lobs if the wall's overhanging, but cling on like a limpet if leading up something slabby. I wouldn't much fancy practising falling on indoor slabs. Outdoors, different kettle of fish as you don't tend to get bit sticky out holds (at least not on the stuff I climb).
thermal_t - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki: Obviously the greater the overhang, the less likely you are to hit anything on your way down. Having said this, a controlled fall on a vertical wall is unlikely to cause you harm. I wouldn't push off to hard, as then you have to swing back in eventually.

I think of it as falling arse first and bringing my legs up towards horizontal as I fall which will keep sensitive bits away from protrusions on the wall. With the current trend towards massive volumes on climbing walls, obviously make sure you aren't likely to encounter any of them on the way down.

Ramblin dave - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:
> As such inside would be the place to do it, and then the choice is what style wall to practise on?

My general approach, when I actually get to a proper wall, has been to start with very small falls on steep walls and gradually try bigger falls or less steep walls. (Edit: note "or" not "and".) If you find that the size of falls you're taking on any given angle are a bit uncomfortable and you're stubbing your toes or banging your knees or whatever, then don't go any further...

As I said, I'm not a coach, though. Someone who actually know what they're talking about will probably be along soon.
Post edited at 15:28
fire_munki on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

I prob did indeed miss that point! I was really asking (badly) whether I practise on the massive overhang or the slightly over vertical walls. Which folks have answered, cheers y'all.
jkarran - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

> ...But inside my head all I can see is me smashing into the holds/rock face as I go down.

Not a bad thought to be having at the outset to be honest. Figure out how to avoid it happening bit by bit as you build confidence.

> So I need practise, lots of it from reading, but what to practise on? I've been doing a bit sporadically on a very overhanging wall (at the Barn near Plymski if that helps), however as a f5+ / vdiff climber the chances of me trying a climb that overhanging outside varies somewhere between none and zero.

You generally don't want to be contemplating falling off real world routes in that sort of grade range. I'd suggest working to increase the grade a bit so you're climbing steeper cleaner routes before you start getting too comfortable falling. Of course that may just mean redpointing in which case pick a steep clean route and get stuck in.

With very steep routes and when close to the bolt (but above it) make sure your belayer is giving you enough slack that you don't whip violently into the wall.

> So what should the wall look like? Vertical? A few degrees over vertical? A slab? The next question is how to do the fall itself in training? I know what happens when I actually fall but should I push off, if so how much?

A tiny bit steeper than vertical with not many small ish holds (use them all if you can't climb individual lines on that panel). Talk through with your belayer what you're going to do then from maybe 2/3 of the way up start dropping from below the bolt onto the the rope, build up the fall length gradually still from below the bolt (slack rope). When you're happy with how to fall cleanly (basically as you would from the bouldering wall, feet first but coming into a sitting position so your harness catches comfortably and your legs buffer the swing into the wall) and your belayer is happy catching falls you can start to drop from level with the bolt onto a little slack then from above it. Do a little bit each session, not a whole night of it, it's dull and chafes! Once you're comfortable you can keep your eye in by just tapping the chains and dropping to finish.

Make sure your belayer's skills keep pace with your confidence and ideally invest in something like a GriGri, it makes the process less unpleasant for them.

jk
Post edited at 16:49
Ramblin dave - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:
By the way, something else that I've found useful from a practice-falling point of view is getting into the habit of going for the move and falling (assuming it's relatively safe to do so) rather than deliberately jumping or downclimbing to a bolt and resting. You often surprise yourself and actually get the move and realise that you had a bit more in the tank than you thought. Maybe it's tenuous, but I think this might also be good for your head, maybe even more useful than just being comfortable taking lobs off steep routes...
Post edited at 17:36
climbwhenready - on 24 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

I've done a (very little) bit of fall practice on a vertical wall with fairly juggy holds. It's doable, the most important thing when falling is 1) to push backwards and commit to the fall, rather than slithering, and b) control where you hit when you swing back in. If you do get it wrong, you could be looking at an injury. If you do this, you can start by falling on rope stretch with your waist at the clip, rather than whippers!

I read online (can't remember where, it was a climbing coach) of a way of doing fall practice outside - this was actually to build confidence in gear and placements. Climb up, build an equalised multi-piece anchor that you know can hold a car - whatever it takes for you to be absolutely confident in it, even if that's 8 pieces - attach the rope to it (screwgate?) then place a piece above that and fall on it. If it fails, you've got the anchor... I've not done this. Obviously the route needs to be a) safe to fall off and b) have loads of independent gear placements for this to work.

With both of these, as always, you should use your own judgement whether they are sensible things to do.
John Kettle - on 25 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

Firstly well done on figuring out and admitting to this as a weakness - thousands are still in denial!
As others have alluded to, getting good at dropping off steep overhangs won't do much for your fear of falling on 5+'s and VDiffs, since it's such different terrain.
Where to start very much depends on where your head is at the moment, bear in mind these things can only be dealt with effectively in the long term if you build them up gradually in small increments.
So whatever is just outside your current comfort level is the place to start. Examples might be:
-Letting go indoors on a top-rope without warning your belayer first
-Letting go at the lower-off without making eye contact with your belayer
-demonstrating 10 no-hands rests in every VD lead
-Sitting on the rope (clipped overhead, leading) without warning the belayer
-Confidently using an autobelay!

Those are all ones you can do on the terrain you currently climb on.

I regularly introduce folk to lead falls on vertical walls - if managed appropriately it is fine. When falling you're trying to replicate the experience of an unexpected fall, so not having a really tight rope is important (it slams you into the wall) otherwise what you do as you drop is really down to how you fell - being relaxed and cat-like is best.

All entirely my opinion of course. Best of luck tackling it!

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wurzelinzummerset on 26 Jun 2014
In reply to fire_munki:

I don't think fall training is a solution to your particular problem. You just need to develop a leading head. That only comes by leading regularly, and as John Kettle stated, things like this are best approached incrementally. To start, choose to climb at crags where there are a good selection of very easy routes well within your grade. Start on a couple of these each trip, then try something a little harder, then if you're feeling confident move up to your onsight limit. If you can climb on a regular basis you should gradually find that the "easy" stuff you choose to start on will be of a higher grade. Jumping straight on something near your limit at the start of a session is a bad idea if you're nervous above gear/bolts. The key to it, whether over the timespan of a day, or the course of a year, is to get mileage in well within your lead limit to mentally reinforce that it's a safe and natural thing to do. In your case, if that means mileage on Diffs, then so be it.

I try and climb twice a week, but I still can get nervous on the first route of a session if it's near my limit even if it's got bolts every 2 metres. However, by building up to things I can sometimes completely switch off the fact that I'm above gear/bolts, and even solo easy routes, which is something I never thought I'd be able to do when i started climbing.

I'll just point out that fall training is great, but in the right context.

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