/ What do climbers look for in coaching?

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TaylorMade Climbing - on 08 Sep 2016
Hello people,

I've recently started a solo coaching venture and just looking for ideas on what the general climber looks for in coaching or why they feel getting coaching is not necessary?

I see a lot of experienced climbers who lack basic strength such as holding a half crimp which holds their climbing back significantly. That brings me on to why people slam campus boards so much? Why are they strictly advised for advanced climbers?! I can't climb 8a however I've made massive gains campusing without injury. With careful un-dynamic even supported (feet on) use they can be very efficient to build up finger strength?

Do climbers really just climb for enjoyment and not the pursuit of more technical / higher level climbing? I don't think of myself as a hotshot trying to redpoint every route I try. Why settle though? You only live once.

Best, Andy



subtle on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> Do climbers really just climb for enjoyment and not the pursuit of more technical / higher level climbing?

I climb because I live in Britain, its what we've been told to do, Climb Britain.
1poundSOCKS - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> Why settle though? You only live once.

If I could get free coaching, I'd have it. Otherwise the money I save goes into the pot for future climbing trips and essential kit. You only live once after all!!!
AJM - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> With careful un-dynamic even supported (feet on) use they can be very efficient to build up finger strength?

There's almost noone for whom foot on campusing is the most efficient way to build finger strength. It helps dynamic power and contact strength, if you aren't yet at a level where you can campus foot off, but you'd still have to be at the level where a few moves are your limit before it just starts to devolve into stamina training, for which it's pretty efficient but brutally dull. If you want a non climbing way to improve finger strength use a fingerboard, which isolates your fingers.

And if you can use a campus board non-dynamically feet off (ie holding a one arm lock on each arm to move the hands statically) you're either on very large rungs or you're pretty strong already and probably need to work on something else. Or both. I can't use a campus board statically and foot off!
jezb1 - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I would look for a qualification or a significant level of experience and for the coach to be operating at a higher level than me.
Danny Brown - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I guess it depends on why someone is climbing and also what they need improvement on versus what they want improvement on - often not the same thing.
It's also difficult to know who is a good coach - Mountain Training's new coaching scheme is a good place to start but finding a Development Coach is tough. People tend to go for reputation and this tends to be who climbs the hardest and is willing to work for the least.
It's not hard to pick up clients if you do it for free - one Facebook posting is enough. It's also not hard to turn some of them into paying clients if they like you and can see the benefit from what you are doing.
Getting enough people, regularly enough to pay the bills? Unlikely.
Good luck
Greasy Prusiks on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

Because most climbers prefer to spend days in the mountains with friends than hanging off a small wooden ledge, indoors, on their own?!
Sealwife - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I would be looking for someone with sufficient insight and experience to be able to identify which areas I needed to improve on and offer guidance on how to make these improvements.
Wsdconst - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

Basically I want someone friendly, who can explain things I'm doing wrong, and help me understand how I should be moving etc. I want to see improvements obviously too.
The Jazz Butcher on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
Being a good climber isn't just about campus style strength and power. Outside climbing requires significant technical ability as well.

Just because someone can do foot off campus moves will not necessarily make them a good climber on real rock. There is so much more involved physiologically than just pure power.

A good coach, from those I have experience of, are first and foremost mad for it, up for it, climbers. When not coaching, they are usually doing their own training or getting out on rock as much as possible. Not just the occasional day outside every month or so.

They should also have lots of personal experience on many rock types and in numerous climbing areas. Their personal performance and ability will probably be reasonably good. If it isn't, how can they understand what their clients need to do to improve their performance.
Post edited at 17:24
Fraser on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I can't climb 8a however I've made massive gains campusing without injury.

I'm not sure why I do, but I must confess that I would expect a climbing coach to be able to climb 8a.
The Jazz Butcher on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to Fraser:

> I'm not sure why I do, but I must confess that I would expect a climbing coach to be able to climb 8a.

I tend to agree with you. However, I also think that perhaps the grade may depend on the climbing ability of the student(s) being coached.

A good coach perhaps should know when a student has reached a point where they need a higher level coach.
thebigfriendlymoose - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to Fraser:
> I'm not sure why I do, but I must confess that I would expect a climbing coach to be able to climb 8a.

Same here - go for a wander around Malham or Kilnsey and there are a lot of >F8a climbers around. It is not a rarified grade that necessarily requires a massive understanding of technique or training. So I would not be convinced that a coach who was sustantially below that level had those skills either - they might - but I would be wondering why they had not put their knowledge into practice better.
Post edited at 17:47
stp - on 08 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

The thing with coaching is that it's likely to be very expensive for most people. Most improvements in climbing tend to happen slowly over time. I get the impression that many believe one or two sessions will lead to some sudden dramatic improvements. But movement skills need to be practiced over and over until they become one's normal way of climbing. I think the kind of things that can be mostly learned quickly are often the same things one could learn in a book, and books are much cheaper. I also think most people should be able to figure out their weaknesses on their own most of the time, or even just asking a climbing partner.

I think the comment about not campusing until you're climbing 8a is valid for foot off campusing on finger edges. You're right about foot on campusing. Though not sure whether or not there is any advantage over a standard fingerboard?

> Do climbers really just climb for enjoyment and not the pursuit of more technical / higher level climbing?

I'm sure it varies from person to person. Being over focused on grades and improvement could definitely detract from the enjoyment of climbing I think. But seeing oneself improve, doing climbs one couldn't do before, is immensely satisfying and should enhance the enjoyment in my opinion.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

Cheers for the responses guys and gals. Deep down everyone wants to climb harder! They must do! I can pull high 7s just not 8a (Its pretty hard!). The climbing is Sussex doesn't lend itself to cragging in the evening.

Quite a few ppl are willing to pay 40/hr at walls for general coaching. Even learning to belay. Its clearly about providing something different, and of course having the tickets to back up your chat. I've been doing the Neil Gresham MCA and have learnt enormous amounts as a coach being coached .... by a coach.... I'd say it definitely gave another level to my climbing and coaching alike.

I don't think coaches should have to climb 8a, however coaches should be keen climbers who have experience to excite and a level to aim at for their clients. I don't think the rational that professionals like S Coxsey are way stronger than their coaches is particularly relevant for your day-to-day coaching before someone brings it up.

AJM - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I don't think coaches should have to climb 8a, however coaches should be keen climbers who have experience to excite and a level to aim at for their clients.

I agree that being able to climb 8a won't make you a good coach, but to turn it around if you're a keen and experienced climber and you have the other skills of a good coach: ability to identify weaknesses (strength, technique, tactics etc), knowledge of how to train weaknesses (how to train strength, how to train endurance, etc), knowledge of how to structure a training plan, and so on - "why havent you applied them to yourself" would be the question is want to know before I'd want to pay to be coached by someone. The answer might be working too hard to focus on their own climbing, or lack of ability to get out and put their training to use, or whatever, but I'd at least want to know what the answer was.
bouldery bits - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I'd need to know:

Where I am
Where I should be
What I need to do to close the gap.

Steve nevers on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

Imho, it depends what kind of coach you are aiming to be.

Strength, movement, etc, or a combination of a few different factors. Strength training/coaching is only one part of the whole.
Personally, im injury ridden, due to age and previous non-climbing accidents, which holds me back massively with strength training. But that's made me have to be efficient with movement and technique to bridge the gap.
Have ended up coaching much stronger climbers about efficient movement and technique, even ended up helping Gresham coach heelhooks when I did a master class with him, and I only boulder 7A on a good day and best sport is only 7b. Then I've worked with people that can campus all day long to remind them that it's still all about footwork footwork and footwork!

Interested in this thread as I'm currently doing my coaching training, but with the goal of being a mid-level 'movement development' coach, rather than a '12 steps to 8a' coach.
I doubt I'll ever personally hit those grades, but there are many, many climbers that won't also, but still want to improve their personal bests.
Grade chasing is part of it for everyone I guess, but it is all relative.
Tyler - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I'd want to know why, if you can footless campus at a level where it's considered training, you haven't climbed harder? I understand that good climber does not equal good coach, nor that bad climber equals bad coach but you'd need to demonstrate somethig to make me choose you such as a sport science background. At the moment it's not obvious what your credentials are.
biscuit - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to Tyler:

Sadly I think the best coaches have something that doesn't come across on paper. Their personality and their ability to differentiate according to the clients needs. That ability tends to come with experience I guess.

Being able to relate to someone, form a relationship and provide them with what they need is vital. Part of that is showing them what they need, not what they think they need. Structuring a session so they realise it themselves.

I've been on a coaching holiday with a big name. I was inspired, learnt some tactics and got a pb. I didn't take much away though. Someone I know through here went on a Kaly holiday with coaching by Magnus midtbo (sp?). Wanting some bets on an 8a he asked Magnus for help. Magnus simply reduced the 7 move crux to 3 moves and said try that. Not much use to him.

I've also seen many master classes that focus on frenchies, windscreen wipers and typewriters and such like. These are generally for people climbing in the 6's. Not the best use of their time and money I feel.

So famous/good climber can be a good coach or a bad coach. As can a lower level climber. Qualifications don't mean much. I remember having an argument with 2 famous climbers/coaches regarding base of support. One was teaching the course. They were wrong. It was proved afterwards btw I'm not just being arrogant. That's just a bit of a silly example though. The new quals are pretty good in my opinion and are a decent indicator - they involve watching you take sessions and draw up plans. I still personally believe they focus too much on the physical, but everyone seems to want a 12 mth periodised plan with mini peaks that they will rarely follow.

Back on topic, sorry, I think word of mouth is most important. Do some free sessions, work with people medium term until they attain some goals and can give you feedback. Then start advertising/charging with that as your back up.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to Tyler:

I've done all the general CWA/CWLA etc. Right now I'm at a desk awaiting 5pm doing something unrelated to climbing.

I'd campus more it just hurts my little fingers! the skins so bloody thick on my pinkies from campus. No-one warned me of the dreaded Campus Pinky. Working 1-4-7 on the small rungs. Difficult getting the lock off strength.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

Magnus Midtbo is an absolute tank. When your that strong it must be difficult to relate to mere mortals.
Tyler - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
But as a coach what do you think is stopping you achieving your goals (reading between the lines you want to route climb harder?). As a non-coach I'd say it's not your campusing ability.
Tyler - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> Magnus Midtbo is an absolute tank. When your that strong it must be difficult to relate to mere mortals.

That is an obvious problem and one of the reasons why I agree with you that being a top climber is not a prerequisite of being a good coach but you need to demonstrate an ability to improve personally if that is a stated goal. That's why I trust someone like Neil Greaham, after all this time he is still getting better
TaylorMade Climbing - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to Tyler:

Yeah definitely. But once you get into the high 7s/8a if your boulderings not up2 scratch you get shut down. Campusing, training and bouldering certainly help progress sport climbing ability.
Tyler - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
I totally get that and agree but at the moment you are strong enough to redpoint much harder than 7b (or 8a for that matter). It could be that outdoor climbing is taking a back seat to training at the moment which is laudable. Don't want to appear I'm getting at you just curious to know what advice you'd give yourself. Not that it helps with your original question, sorry!
climbwhenready - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I'd campus more it just hurts my little fingers! the skins so bloody thick on my pinkies from campus. No-one warned me of the dreaded Campus Pinky. Working 1-4-7 on the small rungs. Difficult getting the lock off strength.

Doesn't this mean that your original premise - that people should get better by campusing more - is at best unhelpful, and at worst just wrong?
AJM - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

How hard do you think you'd have to boulder to be able to climb 8a?
biscuit - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to AJM:

I'm hoping not more than a 12 move V5 - however it's not going well as it goes straight into a 10 move V4
Fraser on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to AJM:

> How hard do you think you'd have to boulder to be able to climb 8a?

Yep, V5 with good stamina, or steady at V6. Depends on the 8a.

biscuit - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

To reply to your original post people wanting to improve their climbing may look for a coach. However lots will look elsewhere first. Other climbers they see as better, books, online (very common) or most commonly they'll just carry on doing the same thing and hoping for a different result somehow.

As to your point about seeing a lot of experienced climbers lacking the strength to hold a half crimp i find that quite hard to believe in my coaching experience. Most people unable to hold a hold of any type is most often due to previous fatigue and/or incorrect technique/positioning. I am fully prepared to concede that is only my experience and when you reach a certain level strength does become a factor. And you can never have fingers that are too strong.

As for the campus board it gets slammed as a finger strength tool as they do not increase isometric finger strength, unless you're doing max hangs off one. They are good for certain, very specific, training areas - power (although there is some argument regarding that even) and contact timing for sure. Most people make initial gains through improving their technique at campussing rather than getting much more powerful. Then the hard work starts and it can get injury prone if not careful. I do use it as a very effective foot on tool for training pain threshold Personally i'd prescribe a max effort bouldering session (only able to do one or two moves of a problem) as this also keeps the technique aspect firing. Often it's not lack of power but lack of awareness of what the body is doing through the move equalling bad technique. However lots of people do use them and swear they get results from them.
thebigfriendlymoose - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> Yeah definitely. But once you get into the high 7s/8a if your boulderings not up2 scratch you get shut down. Campusing, training and bouldering certainly help progress sport climbing ability.

Bouldering helps but it is not a prerequisite. As a salary-man climber, I just have to make do with getting on the routes I want to do every weekend. Oh, and I have never campussed - once tried - managed 1-3-4 and fell off. I used to be reasonably handy bouldering but now cannot recall the last time I managed anything harder than 7b.
Tyler - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to thebigfriendlymoose:
> Oh, and I have never campussed - once tried - managed 1-3-4 and fell off.

Was that because you tried shaking out between 3 and 4 for five mins?
Post edited at 18:51
thebigfriendlymoose - on 09 Sep 2016
In reply to Tyler:
> Was that because you tried shaking out between 3 and 4 for five mins?

Dammit! I thought the whole point of these internet forums was relative anomymity..... Sadly, probably true, and on reflection, I think I might be exaggerating my ability, I think it was 1-3-3 (match) and fall off!
Post edited at 19:24
TaylorMade Climbing - on 12 Sep 2016
In reply to climbwhenready:

My other fingers feel great! I think my pinkies are just trying to get involved with the action too much and are trying to beef up!

I rarely ever see anyone jump on a campus board who has any clue how to use it anyway. And people who save it until the end of the session. Laughable!
stp - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I think the idea of a coach needing to climb a certain grade is pretty misleading.

For instance you could take someone who has only been climbing for a year or so and has slowly worked their way up to, say, HVS. That person, if they're reasonably astute could be a perfectly fine coach for someone who has only been climbing for a few weeks. The HVS climber could probably teach them a lot about climbing, all the stuff they'd picked up over the past year/s.

Theoretically you could probably train a non climber coaching skills over a period of time and they could probably coach people without ever having stepped off the ground. Of course this is an extreme example, unlikely to ever happen in the real world. But it's just to illustrate that coaching and climbing are actually two different things and the grade the coach climbs is probably less relevant that one might assume.

I suspect there might other metrics that would better qualify someone. Like number years climbing perhaps, or the number of routes done perhaps.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to stp:

Yeah definitely. Trad climbing is more mind over matter on some routes. I've only climbed E2/E3 but I'd say its just the mindset stopping me trying some harder routes.

My focus is more on intermediate climbers who want to develop and already have some knowledge of climbing (hopefully can lead too). Focus will be on training generally. I'm pretty keen on calisthetics, TRX, Rings so wanted to get people more into the conditioning side of climbing. Most people have little or no knowledge of climbing conditioning. I'd admit I didn't until recently.

I'm hoping to run a series of workshops focusing on different aspects of climbing maybe repeating monthly. 1) Stength (focus fingerboard / campus / supportive training 2) Endurance training - high/med intensity boulder/lead training 3) Conditioning for climbing - TRX / Rings / bodyweight exercises 4) Callisthenics - Horizontal bar, core exercises
Tobes on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I rarely ever see anyone jump on a campus board who has any clue how to use it anyway. And people who save it until the end of the session. Laughable!

Would expect a coach to probably be a little less judgmental and condescending?

I wouldn't give up the day job just yet.......
Jon Stewart - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
Reading this thread, I get the impression that your particular approach to climbing and coaching might not suit everyone, it seems very focused on only certain aspects that aren't critical for everyone.

I had a really good session with a coach, and this is how it went:

He asked me what my goals were; I said I wanted to be doing the big E3s on Gogarth the coming summer. Not bothered about sport or bouldering, indoors for training only. I wanted to be able to get the most out indoor training to enable me to do big, scary routes that require having a fair bit in reserve. I was climbing E2 at the time.

This lad was a great all-round climber IMO. He'd done stacks of E5s onsight (maybe E6? not sure about headpointing), 8a or more on sport, and had a degree in sports science. He's done most or all of the routes I was on about, and knew what was involved: enough stamina to hang on to greasy holds while fiddling in awkward gear, and be able to carry on doing this for about an hour with the only the odd rest here and there. For someone who can already boulder V6, campusing etc ain't going to help.

The coach spent some time with me in the bouldering wall, observing technique and strength, and said: your strength's fine and your technique's good (I'd been climbing about a decade) - you need to get fit (and keep up your strength). Then we spent some time in the lead wall doing stamina drills, with him explaining the purpose and assessing what level I was at. He put together a report with an outline training plan (he'd have done a week-by-week plan with a review session for more money), which I followed and got loads out of training that winter.

As it happens, the following summer, although I wasn't working, it rained every f*cking day, I got nothing done and my training went down the toilet. But the following year I used what I'd learnt, and now I've done all the target routes and a bunch of E4s, and I think the indoor training (which is very sporadic and pretty relaxed) has really helped.

What I'm trying to get across is that not everyone is bothered about the level of absolute difficulty they can achieve. I find sport climbing soul destroying, I just can't handle the boredom and frustration of falling off the same holds over and over again. But even for someone like me, a good coach can help me reach my goals of climbing harder - move up from E4 to E5 onsight.

Hope that's useful.
Post edited at 11:56
planetmarshall on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> ... I'm pretty keen on calisthetics, TRX, Rings so wanted to get people more into the conditioning side of climbing. Most people have little or no knowledge of climbing conditioning.

I don't know a great deal about training for climbing, but I do know a fair bit about the scientific method, and as a prospective client I would be concerned about your strategy here.

Don't think along the lines of 'TRX is cool, I must use that with a client". Establish your client's goals, analyse their weaknesses and prescribe an approach that will help them to realise those goals. Don't let your approach be driven by what you, the trainer, are keen on.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to planetmarshall:

Yeah you are right. I've just focused more on structuring my climbing the past year or so and feel I've developed a good knowledge of conditioning which I can pass to others. Marketing to a 1-to-1 audience is difficult and many walls run basic improvers classes for an hour which aren't of much help to intermediate climbers. It would also be difficult and unproductive if you had 4/5 clients at once (to specifically focus on technique).

If I'm honest though if you've been climbing for 2/3/4 years and your technique is poor.... Why? What holds back 6B/6c climbers is normally strength and endurance not inefficient footwork or technique.
Lemony - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> If I'm honest though if you've been climbing for 2/3/4 years and your technique is poor.... Why? What holds back 6B/6c climbers is normally strength and endurance not inefficient footwork or technique.

If I'm honest, I don't reckon that's true. I'd wager that the overwhelming majority of people failing on routes at that level are doing so in large part because of their mental and technical approach.

I think one of the things I'd look for in a coach is an understanding of that.
thebigfriendlymoose - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I'm pretty keen on calisthetics, TRX, Rings so wanted to get people more into the conditioning side of climbing. Most people have little or no knowledge of climbing conditioning. I'd admit I didn't until recently.

> I'm hoping to run a series of workshops focusing on different aspects of climbing maybe repeating monthly....3) Conditioning for climbing - TRX / Rings / bodyweight exercises 4) Callisthenics - Horizontal bar, core exercises

Does any of the conditioning (callisthenics, TRX etc) you favour have any proven benefits for climbing? Or is it more annecdotal - your own feeling that they are helpful?
TaylorMade Climbing - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to Lemony:

Yeah I partly agree. I'm not really considering training for trad climbing as a large number of clients may not even climb outdoor. There's a lot of gym climbers in the south-east who often might only go outdoors to boulder. Developing a technical mental approach is useful however indoor sport and bouldering often comes down to repetition on routes and .. training.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to thebigfriendlymoose:

Yeah its massively helpful. I used to get injured all the time and since taking up Calli-fit and doing regular conditioning I feel great. Its combating the YING of climbing with the YANG (conditioning). Climbing significantly develops your back muscles hence some boulderers have a hunched muscular posture. Many of the top climbers like Ondra spend rest days or take time in their training programs for conditioning work. Why shouldn't normal climbers? A lot of a experienced pros keep climbing at a high level because of the careful conditioning work they do to stay in top shape.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Lemony - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
> Many of the top climbers like Ondra spend rest days or take time in their training programs for conditioning work. Why shouldn't normal climbers?

Because it's not that high a priority for someone who's not dealing with a heavy training load? Because it's not likely to be a path to significant performance gains for most climbers? Because the amount of conditioning work most climbers need to do to avoid injury wouldn't justify a specialist coach?


It sounds like you want to be a personal trainer who works with climbers rather than a coach who helps climbers to get better.
Post edited at 15:27
humptydumpty - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> Climbing significantly develops your back muscles hence some boulderers have a hunched muscular posture.

Genuinely interested - surely the classic hunched posture comes from tight pecs and weak back muscles? Or can I balance myself out with more bouldering?!
Dandan82 - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to humptydumpty:

> Genuinely interested - surely the classic hunched posture comes from tight pecs and weak back muscles? Or can I balance myself out with more bouldering?!

I have wondered about this, the only thing I've come up with is that perhaps it is overdeveloped back muscles 'pushing' the shoulders into a hunch rather than tight muscles 'pulling' it?

I have to say Taylormade that I'm not sure I agree with some of your approaches and opinions but I do think you have the right idea with the conditioning, it doesn't matter if you are climbing 5+ once a week or doing laps at 8b, keeping your muscle groups balanced is essential for avoiding injury, a bit of conditioning would be beneficial to every climber, regardless of grade.
That's my purely anecdotal opinion anyhow
TaylorMade Climbing - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to Dandan82:

Thanks for your comments. I was just bouncing ideas really, nothing set in stone. Thanks for everyones advice. We climb cs we love it. Injuries get climbers down and finding strategies to avoid them has got to be a good thing.
humptydumpty - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to Dandan82:

> I have wondered about this, the only thing I've come up with is that perhaps it is overdeveloped back muscles 'pushing' the shoulders into a hunch rather than tight muscles 'pulling' it?

Sounds a bit suspect to me - not sure any muscles can push, can they?


> keeping your muscle groups balanced is essential for avoiding injury

Certainly true for me - as a 5c climber (best redpoint) I suffered multiple pulley injuries, but since doing a bit more than "just going climbing" I've got up 7a without having any time off for injury in the last year.

But the balancing of muscle groups I've done is to strengthen lats and lengthen pecs. Will bouldering really over-develop my back muscles? And what kind of exercises do you have to do to counter this?
Lemony - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to humptydumpty:

You repeatedly injured your pulleys climbing 5c and conditioning work stopped that?

Really?
stp - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to thebigfriendlymoose:

> Does any of the conditioning (callisthenics, TRX etc) you favour have any proven benefits for climbing?

A big part of calisthenics, probably the biggest part of calisthenics, is bar work: doing exercises on a pull up bar. Many of the exercises are the same exercises climbers use, pull ups, front levers, muscle ups. It's all based around power to weight ratio, not dissimilar to gymnastics on bars really.

With TRX, just like weights, there is a huge variety of exercises one can do. So you just select the exercises most suitable for your goals. Though unlike weights TRX is all body weight so power to weight is again key element.

humptydumpty - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to Lemony:

No, I made that up to impress people on the internet.
stp - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to humptydumpty:

> Will bouldering really over-develop my back muscles?

Yes in time if you do enough of it. Climbing predominantly uses the pulling muscles of the upper body. Pushing muscles are also used occasionally but probably don't get enough use to develop as much and keep in balance with the pulling muscles. So some specific strength training for those muscles is a good idea for both climbing and injury prevention/good posture.

Alex Megos's 3 top tips for climbers:
1. Antagonist training
2. Antagonist training
3. Antagonist training
.

Dandan82 - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to humptydumpty:

> Sounds a bit suspect to me - not sure any muscles can push, can they?

Not push, no but just grow so that they take up more space and 'push' everything out of place maybe?
AJM - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to Lemony:

> You repeatedly injured your pulleys climbing 5c and conditioning work stopped that?

> Really?

I was a bit puzzled as to how longer pecs and stronger lats protect finger pulleys from injury too.
humptydumpty - on 13 Sep 2016
In reply to AJM:

As far as I'm aware this reduces neurovascular entrapment of plumbing to the hands. Very happy to be corrected if there's another mechanism at play. As I said this has worked for me, but I've not been wholly scientific in my approach.
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:
> Because most climbers prefer to spend days in the mountains with friends than hanging off a small wooden ledge, indoors, on their own?!

Not sure it's a trade off with outdoor climbing. Perhaps they prefer to spend time dangling off a small wooden ledge than arguing on UKC?
Post edited at 22:46
AJM - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to humptydumpty:
From a climbers perspective, you didn't do antagonists, right, you just got stronger - you increased the strength of your lats which are the back muscles that for most climbers would be overdeveloped already? If so, that seems a more plausible reason why your grade went up - you just trained and got stronger.

Your finger flexors run between your forearm and your fingers and the pulleys encase them in the fingers themselves - if your injuries actually were pulleys and not some other form of injury (my wife suffered for a while from something symptomatically equivalent to golfers, but driven by issues in her shoulders, so I could understand if you said you'd had bad elbows) then I'm still struggling to see how the shoulders will have fixed what's basically an overload injury in the ends of your fingers....
Post edited at 07:37
Greasy Prusiks on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to sebastian dangerfield:

Yeah bit of a joke really. Probably should of added a ;-)
biscuit - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to AJM:

Sometimes the fingers become chronically overloaded due to issues further down the chain causing imperfect form.

To the op it seems to becoming clear that the more you talk about this subject the less knowledge you're showing. That's not meant to be condascending despite how it may sound. What works for you may not be needed/work for others.

Read some books on coaching principles in general, physiology, kinesiology, anatomy, the self coached climber, Dave macleod's books and lots of stuff on the web, go on the BMC courses (fundas and coaching courses). Book a couple of coaching sessions for yourself. See how people work and with your new knowledge assess the good and bad.

It's a great job. You're working within climbing and helping people achieve their goals. Win win! For most people just doing something will cause some improvement. To be able to take a stranger, assess their physical, mental, tactical and technical abilities against their lifestyle and goals is pretty tricky. Then you've got to come up with a plan that fits into their life that they will stick to.

It's not easy to be a decent coach, but it's well worth the effort. So if it interests you go to it.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

Sorry I just don't agree, I'm clearly not saying I'm an expert just discussing ideas for coaching. I've been taking regular callisthenics classes for a year and been on a variety of conditioning workshops with coaches like Neil Gresham. I've been instructing for 7+ years and climbing for 16years. I've undertaken national instructing awards (CWA/CWLA etc) and upskill at every opportunity. My ideas for coaching were simply introducing some basic exercises to develop climbers knowledge of training, conditioning and callisthenics to improve their climbing ability. I've read Dave Macleods books and tbh I've heard the MTA scheme isn't all that anyway. I've gained much more as a climber and a coach doing N Gresh MCA scheme which is pretty tough.
The Jazz Butcher on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I've read Dave Macleods books and tbh I've heard the MTA scheme isn't all that anyway.

Don't believe all you hear without first hand experience. The MTA scheme is still relatively new and is still being developed. Once you have completed at least the first part of the scheme, you will be in a better position to make a judgement.

You are coming across as a bit defensive because others have made comments you perhaps didn't like. This is a public forum after all.

Whilst you seem to be very enthusiastic, keen and willing to continue learning, I think you need to get out and simply climb more as you initially stated you only get out once a month. That is not enough, in my opinion, for performance coaching. Your profile shows you as located in Guildford. It's only a couple of hours to Swanage or Portland from there and about the same to Cheddar. Getting out for one day every weekend would make a huge difference to your potential as a performance coach. Not just in terms of actual coaching, but also being able to demonstrate to clients that you are an active climber with relevant and up to date experience.

Good luck.

TJB.
MischaHY - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

I think that for a coach it's less important to say 'I think people should be doing this' and much more important to say:

'I think (specific client) needs to do x because x'.

For me, training for performance is all about staying balanced. Do some reading on energy systems and performance profiling, it's very interesting.

Having gone through this process and chosen a coach/worked to achieve results, I would say that the most important thing for me was a modern approach based on current techniques and proven methods, combined with a wealth of training knowledge and a personal reputation for performance.
biscuit - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

Conditioning, fingerboard/campus regimes, core work outs etc can all be sold via print and Internet and why they've become 'the way'. That's how Neil makes his living (no criticism of him if shoes were on my feet I'd do the same).

Soft skills, technique, tactics and experience can't effectively be coached via the Internet.

I did Neil's coaching course many moons ago and learnt lots. It was definitely money well spent. It had lots of technique etc within it.

The lattice system for example gives you a fantastic breakdown of your energy systems. However if you climb like a donkey you will score low. If you improve your technique then your score will improve, without having to try harder.

I've not coached anyone yet who couldn't make quicker, bigger, gains from technique improvements than an 18 week an cap program, preceded by aero cap and finished off with aero pow etc. 6mths to improve something that could be fixed quickly. You will still climb like a donkey and always be held back by that. Leading to having to get stronger and fitter and more likely to get injured.

The two very much go together. Improve your physical attributes along with your technique.

If you want to sell sessions based on physicality alone then you're a PT not a climbing coach and that has its place so good luck with it.

The new coaching system from the BMC has been created by the top coaches in the country. Input from people like mark glennie, Tom Randall, Tom greenall etc. It focuses on both aspects and is well worth it for the money in comparison to the MCA. You'd also have to up your own grace to progress to the next level of it I believe. 7b+ os and 8a rp used to be the pre requisites.


AlexBush - on 14 Sep 2016
Although I don't think it is the be all and end all if a coach climbs in the 8's, I would certainly only book a coach who climbed harder than me.

It's interesting that this thread has come up now as over the last few days I have been thinking about booking a 1:1 session before an upcoming trip.

I don't climb at anywhere near the highest level, but I know that I can look at someone who has not been climbing long and I could (I don't because I'm not a dick) point out the reason they are failing on a route. I think that more often than not, the climber is unaware of why they are failing, they just know that they can't do it. A lot of people will go down the 'I just need to get stronger' route when in fact it is something else letting them down. I don't think I need a coach to tell me how to get stronger, I've got books to do that (maybe I'm wrong about that but we will see!).

If I was a coach climbing at a lower level than a student, although I would still know how to get them stronger, I would probably be unable to point out flaws in technique etc.
Dandan82 - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

> If you want to sell sessions based on physicality alone then you're a PT not a climbing coach and that has its place so good luck with it.

Just to play devil's advocate, I've begun a Tom Randall training plan which focuses solely on physical improvement and has no reference to technique, tactics, psychology or anything other than just making me stronger. Tom explained that while he spotted some technical weaknesses in my climbing, that wasn't an area that he would be addressing, as it's not what he does. I don't think anyone would consider calling Tom a PT...
AlexBush - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to Dandan82:

Really? I would expect that if I was paying a coach to help me improve and he thought that my footwork was sloppy for example, that he would at least tell me that
biscuit - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to Dandan82:

Why not? He is training you physically, not mentally, tactically or technique wise. As he says that's not what he does, fair play to him. It's not a derogatory term. He's put shed loads of time and effort into lattice and the science seems good.

It could just as easily be for cycling on a turbo trainer - which is where the basis for the energy systems came from I believe.

Team of two (sadly no longer around) gained a huge reputation from having a first class PT and movement coach. It's not splitting hairs, it's a recognition they are different skill bases.

I'm starting a bouldering phase atm. Steep ground with big moves is my weakness. I can hold the start position, I can hold the end position. I can't transition from one to the other even when fresh. Would lattice help? Would callisthenics based exercises help? I think I know what the issue is and that's what I'd expect a coach to be able to help me with. Strength etc isn't the problem. It's my movement between the holds.

If you spend ages fumbling clips all the time should you practice sorting that or just get fitter so it doesn't matter?

The op originally asked what people would look for in a coach and then gave what appeared to be his approach: campussing and foc to improve finger strength and in subsequent posts seems to have shown a few gaps in accepted knowledge.

It turns out he wants to show people some exercises to improve their climbing. Happy days, as long as he's able to assess people according to their differences with screening tests (scapula stability etc) or he may end up injuring people. If all he's going to show people are some basic exercises any healthy person could do well that's all out there on the internet already and more besides.
biscuit - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to AlexBush:
Exactly, but that's not what Tom is providing. He is providing an excellent service at what he does do though.

It's almost as if you could set it up, train other people how to use it (as its a set of rules and benchmarks) and then make them a plan from the guidelines. I.e. Franchise it out to walls across the country.

Hats off to him. He's a smart chap, provides an excellent value for mo why service, off the back of a lot of hard work. People will climb harder if they follow the plan. But maybe not if they can't figure out how to do a particular move.
Post edited at 14:26
1poundSOCKS - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

> Why not?

Why is Tom Randall a climbing coach, not a PT?

I wouldn't expect a PT to know anything about climbing, but I would expect to be able to tell Tom Randall my climbing ambitions (a specific sport route for example) and get a training plan to prepare me physically for the route.
biscuit - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to 1poundSOCKS:
Yes, prepare you physically. He is a PT for climbing if you like.

There's a whole lot more to climbing a route than physicality though. You can hit the correct levels for 8a of 120 moves or whatever, but if you leak energy all over the show on a route you won't get up it. If your tactics are wrong, you won't get up it, if you're scared of run outs you won't get up it etc etc.

Unless you're over fit and over strong for it of course, but that seems inefficient to me.

Just to state again I'm using Tom as an example of training only the physical side. What he provides in that respect I've only heard good stuff about. I'm not saying it's not worth it, just it's a waste to work one and not the other. Half the equation is missing.
Post edited at 14:46
1poundSOCKS - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

> There's a whole lot more to climbing a route than physicality though.

You don't say!
TaylorMade Climbing - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

Yeah I agree with everything you said. I'm not setting out to injure people or go hey you started climbing last week lets do some campus boarding or train those monos on a fingerboard. I'll assess everyone a tailor (not a pun) exercises accordingly.

Its just about providing something different. It would be small group sessions of intermediate climbers working those 4 modules. If it shit people won't come back. Most walls run 'improvers classes' and 'boulder better'. I honestly don't see what 1 person can gain from a class with 8 or 9 other people for an hour. Providing a lower ratio with a more dedicated continuous coaching program would improve a climbers performance and confidence much faster. As you said, yes a lot of this is available on the internet maybe it won't catch on.

Quite a few walls now have dedicated areas with TRX, rings, bars (Withdean/brighton my local) however they aren't utilised that much. Who else is going to show people how to use them?

I havn't heard that much about the BMC coaching scheme. Sounds like a great idea! Does that not undermine the MTA scheme abit which doesn't even have a min grade you need to climb.... (whats with that?!). Maybe that's a discussion for another day....
Dandan82 - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

I was taking your first use of 'PT' as almost a derogatory term, as being somewhat less than a climbing 'coach' but you've explained your actual meaning very well, I'd agree with what you've said.
biscuit - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

One of the most experienced coaches in the country never climbed over HVS. He's coached international standard competitors for about 25 yrs. My coaching colleague at work can't get up a 6a but is amazing at instilling quality movement into climbers. I don't believe it's all about being able to climb hard, but I know Neil puts emphasis on it. There's a good argument on both sides and a difference between coaching squads (the majority of my work) and one to one with an aspiring 8c+ first ascentionist as Neil was.

I guess out of all of this you're nailing down what to offer. This specificity is good for a business idea, much the same as Tom. It's also v low outlay/risk and I don't know if there's much competition down your way. It could be a winner. I'm not being protective of the 'coach' badge but if you advertise coach people will expect that.

So go for it and I look forward to hearing how it goes for you and the impact it has on people's climbing.

In my experience (which isn't everything) most climbers get 'stuck' around the 6a+ to b mark. They often want to climb to 6c to 7a. Not too hard to do. They could be a good target for you. Also many now treat climbing as the new trendy gym. They'd lap up some cool gymnastic style exercise routines and tricks.
TaylorMade Climbing - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

Yeah exactly. I don't think 7a is an unrealistic goal for anyone with a decent structure to their climbing. I get some people visit a wall, ponder about on a few top ropes and love that. Maybe their not interested and that's fine. Its just about getting people motivated to try something different.

Technique workshops are helpful and I'll probably run a few of those but I don't want to get up the nose of any walls who run a similar service. I think its a pretty predated mindset that technique is the be all and end all (back to someones comment about smearing). The main aspects other coaches (like Gresh) pointed out in my climbing was a lack of certain strengths like half crimp strength which basic campus/dead hang exercises has now completely cured. It does completely depend on the session and initial assessment of a climber and I'd hope I've moved past intermediate status.

Thanks for your comment
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
As far as I can see there's four main groups of people that buy coaching:
a. beginners
b. climbing competition kids.
c. 'Punters' that climb for fun and want to get a little better
d. Goal oriented climbers that want to hit a grade or a route.

I don't see you addressing categories a through c. The beginners get lessons from the wall, the climbing competition kids are in youth squads and getting lessons on the side from the wall route setters and local 'pro' climbers, the punters know they can get better by working out but they enjoy climbing, not going to the gym and they are far more interested in technique coaching.

So you are left with category d. but when you narrow down to the set of climbers in that category with a budget for coaching and who aren't already friends with route-setters/sponsored climbers who will give them tips for free you are probably at a very small niche.
Post edited at 17:07
thebigfriendlymoose - on 14 Sep 2016
This is one of the many threads (like every fitclub) that make me think I'm somehow undeservedly "getting away with it". Until the last year, I generally have only climbed weekends - just getting out on what I fancy, whenever possible. No periodised training plans, no obsessing over the minutia of energy systems, no beating myself up if I miss my midweek "continuum an-cap session with antagonistic core stability complementation work". The extent of my sophistication is that when forced by winter weather to boulder, I tell myself that it'll top-up my power, which might be a nice base for the coming year back on the routes.

I would not say I am ignorant of these things - I just have a gut feeling that too much focus on them would rob me of the relief from the hideousness of the working life that I seek from climbing. Admittedly I have started fingerboarding this last year and rather enjoy it in a peverse way. It feels like I am wresting midweek time for my own purposes back from "the man". But doing anything conceivable as "training" rather than "doing", at the expense of being too tired / injured to enjoy a weekend day at Malham / Kilnsey (or even, God forbid, a day of training instead of going to the crag) seems to be missing the point (unless being a high performance climber it is actually your job). Anyway. Well off topic. Rant over. Perhaps I will pay for it in the end and my forbodings are correct and I am due for some massive come-uppance that will leave me unable to mooch up Consenting.....
ultrabumbly on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to thebigfriendlymoose:

If you are progressing in a way that feels meaningful to you and is possible in the time you have available you are pretty much winning.

I'm of the school of thought that any form of coaching, for any activity, yields the most return when delivered to either the totally clueless beginner, or the person who has almost totally plateaued.

I think "coaching" for climbing might in itself rob someone of the self reliance required to improve and so when it happens early might be counter productive in the long run. Climbing is a very individual activity. It's a "sport" where individual dimensions and strengths probably have an impact like no other. Getting better is very much about "that won't work for me, what else might?...rinse repeat". Even if both approaches (being coached vs. off your own back)were equally effective in accomplishing some goal, I'd always find the self reliant one to be far more rewarding. I'd also hazard a guess that mostly self propelled progression maintains long term motivation far better than coach led.

This isn't to say everyone should lead a lonely monastic progression. Entirely the opposite: I'd say the biggest boost anyone can find to improving is climbing with people slightly better than they are themselves or a different set of strengths. Aim to catch up and outdo.(ribbing optional but recommended ) I can think of loads of "cohorts" I have had over the years and smile. I doubt it'd be the same if I had been paying some dude to facilitate/encourage me.
stp - on 14 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:

> I'm pretty keen on calisthetics, TRX, Rings so wanted to get people more into the conditioning side of climbing.

In the US there is a clear division between a coach and a trainer. A coach focuses on the technique and mental aspects of climbing whereas the trainer's focus is all about the physical conditioning. I think this is a useful distinction and it sounds like you're more into the training side. I think this is a useful service for some and it's actually what many coaches over here do anyway. They produce a training plan for someone to follow. Showing how to do exercises correctly, engaging the right muscles etc. could also be part of that. Also going through a workout and encouraging them to push hard, take the appropriate rest etc. would also be useful, something that someone couldn't get easily from just a book.
Misha - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to TaylorMade Climbing:
> If I'm honest though if you've been climbing for 2/3/4 years and your technique is poor.... Why? What holds back 6B/6c climbers is normally strength and endurance not inefficient footwork or technique.

It varies from person to person and it could be a bit of everything which needs improving as opposed to just one aspect. F6s aren't that hard, so it's not going to be the physical side of things which holds people back most of the time. Technique isn't easy to acquire! There's also the mental side of things (especially fear of falling) and tactics (lots of climbers doing F6s don't redpoint).

Misha - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to thebigfriendlymoose:
You're spot on there re getting away with it. I feel the same, though my focus is trad and winter, with sport as a sideline (which is in itself a big reason I don't clim harder on trad). It does mean it gets hard(er) to progress but the upside is you get to do what you enjoy doing. Plus I'm too lazy for proper training.
Robert Durran - on 17 Sep 2016

> I've also seen many master classes that focus on frenchies, windscreen wipers and typewriters and such like. These are generally for people climbing in the the 6's.

Absolutely no idea whatsoever what frenchies, windscreen wipers or typewriters are. Does this mean I need some coaching? Or am I ok because I generally climb in the 7's?

Interesting thread though.

biscuit - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

That was my point. Running a master class for people climbing in the sixes and they get taught how to do core exercises etc rather than technique and tactics.
Robert Durran - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:
> That was my point. Running a master class for people climbing in the sixes and they get taught how to do core exercises etc rather than technique and tactics.

Eh? Still not much the wiser after a quick google: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=frenchies&biw=1366&bih=629&tbm=isch&imgil=3NYvDhK9xXolHM%253A%253B...


Post edited at 15:48
biscuit - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

Well this is where you've obviously been going wrong. Everyone knows that to progress into the 7's you need a small dog and an implement for clearing water off glass.

You need a coach to help you through this stage. Book a session, but make sure you don't forget to take the dog and wiper with you. If they claim they have no idea what they're for they're a rubbish coach.
Robert Durran - on 17 Sep 2016
In reply to biscuit:

And the typewriter? Is that for the coach to type the training plan? Seems a bit old school.

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