/ anyone struggled with graceful?

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flopsicle - on 24 Mar 2013
I'd really like to hear some experiences from those who've struggled with being graceful climbing. Being your typical clutz, not at all Zen like and much more prone to disco leg than I'd like, this is my big struggle.

I'm aware that it matters for efficiency, balance and control and I try during warmup to concentrate on it - usually with the opposite of the desired effect! I've tried giving more time to planning, and I've started to tell myself to be more body aware between moves.

For those for whom graceful is anything but their default setting is there anything that really helped?

I've looked at yoga but there's no local classes at a time I can go.
mrchewy - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: For me, learning to transfer my weight from one foot to the other before attempting the next foot move made a huge difference.
flopsicle - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to mrchewy: i 've been trying practice rockovers badly, I can feel glued in the wrong place! It seems a bit chicken and egg whether lack of flowing movement causes the errors or vice versa.

I'll make an effort to think about shifting footweight first.
Jon Stewart - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

Climb a thousand more routes. That, I guarantee, will help. I'm not being facetious (well OK maybe a bit) -I'm really not convinced there are any shortcuts.

When you see people climbing well, it's because their body knows unconsciously what is the most efficient position to be in and the most efficient way to move between each position. They're also strong. That's what you'll be like when you've climbed a thousand more routes.
The Ivanator - on 24 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: How long have you been climbing? What sort of grades are you operating at? I find I can be reasonably fluent when operating in my comfort zone, this tends to deteriorate rapidly when I get close to my limit. Concentrating on better movement whilst putting in mileage on easy stuff does transfer a little once you start pushing the limits again.
deacondeacon - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: The 'quiet feet' technique is good for getting the hang of climbing more gracefully but the greatest way to see improvements is by doing tons and tons of routes or problems (as Jon said).
Are you talking about indoors or outdoors? Indoor bouldering I'll normally climb around 30-40 problems before I get stuck in to some harder stuff. I'm much lazier on routes and only do about 5-10 routes for the whole session.

Also assuming you're talking about indoors nine times out of ten theres a particular way that routes are set.

Up to vertical- footholds on the left are for the left foot, footholds on the right are for the right foot.
Overhanging- footholds on the left are for the right foot, footholds on the right are for the left foot.
This isn't set in stone but is very often the case and has often proven to be a revelation and can see quick improvements.

I personally don't do any Yoga but my wife is very keen. She goes to a Yoga session once a week but uses online videos for the rest of the week. There are hundreds on Youtube but I'll let someone else recommend some to you.
Jamie B - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

Use more footholds, including smears and small intermediates. Try taking more baby steps to get to the same point rather than one big lunge. Develop better core strength so that you can do this while off-balance.
flopsicle - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ivanator: I'm a bit nervous to write this....

I've been climbing about 6 mths since I got back into it after a 16+ yr break. When I used to climb I pretty much thugged it, not from preference, from not being aware of there being an alternative!

I climb indoors because I have limited time chunks. I usually get a couple of sessions in a week and try for 3, although the total for the week is probably nearer what some do in a single trip. At the moment I around 5a/5b bouldering and had my first go at leading last week - obviously at a lower grade.

I work quite hard at it, I saw an exercise on here where by you keep your hands below your head to improve feet, I try for quiet feet during warm up, tried slowing down and placing my feet carefully, I've also been trying to work more on rockovers together with trying to understand where I'm getting stuck. I mix the time between the above and having a go at routes that stretch me or that are suggested by the bods in situ, recently I've bitten the bullet and started to work on overhangs which previously I felt weren't my thing (and I'm enjoying it!).

I think I am improving slowly but whether during warm up climbing the intro problems or getting stuck in on something harder, my brain seem to rebel!

Being more mindful is something that I'd get loads out of on top of the fact it'd help my climbing no end precisely because it's as far remove from my default settings as you can get.

Re video yoga - I tried the yoga on my wii but didn't stick to it. I think without the influence of other people good intentions would wane rapidly due to being totally rubbish at it!
EeeByGum - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: Learn to centre your body. It is all about using the minimum number of muscles to move your body. Just before you go to sleep at night, tense each muscle one at a time and then relax it. Remember how it feels when it is tense and then relaxed. Then, next time you are climbing apply said thoughts, especially to your shoulders and back. You may find that you are tensing your whole body while climbing when in actual fact, you only need your arm and shoulder muscles. Being tense will stop you being fluid.
Rob Parsons on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

> I'd really like to hear some experiences from those who've struggled with being graceful climbing ...

Can't particularly help, but would ask: why worry what it looks like? The question is whether your climbing is effective (however you personally define that) or not.

Kind of related, as the great Don Whillans said: 'I'll show you the footwork if you give me the handholds.'
Timmd on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

What are you like at dancing? Perhaps sounds weird, but I bouldered with a girl a few weeks agao who was a pleasure to watch in how gracefully she climbed, it seems she likes doing linsey hop, and other kinds of dancing.

Anything which gets you thinking about coordination and what your body is doing might help?
Timmd on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

Have you tried balancing on handrails? I think being able to balance better and being more gracefull are probably related.
MDR61 on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: Over the winter I've been doing lots at our local wall - I'm old, chubby and not at all graceful. I've been fortunate enough to climb with someone who is pretty good.
I've found that just by watching what he does and asking him to point out my mistakes it seems to have improved my shambolic footwork.
I think the main things that have helped me are to think about keeping my weight over my feet, and use my legs to push up rather than pulling with my arms. To try to rest and shake out when I can and find restful places to clip.
To move slowly when I can and look around rather than grabbing the first hold I see.
Also trying to remember to breath helps.
Of course this all goes to ratshit when I get pumped/scared when leading at my limit - then I revert to primary rubbish climbing
Steve nevers on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

Watching others can help.

Observe what they are doing with their feet: *What part of the shoe they place at first, *If they pivot from the toe to the outer edge on the foothold as they move, *Do they swap feet before certain styles of move, *Do they step though/cross feet, Do they heelhook holds you would have placed your foot on differently?

Then watch what they are doing further up: *Are they dropping a knee, *Turning their hips into the wall before they reach etc?

Just reading other peoples styles and ideas can be a great help, for example even a route/problem you know you can nail, if you see someone do part of it differently, try out their method for it for yourself, sometimes its shocking when you do and their move feels 100 times smoother and less ARGH.

I often force myself to do everything static when having a training session, and make myself repeat routes and problems a couple of times in different betas, just to get to practice different moves.
Also training boards and making your own 'problems' on a local circuit board can help, make up some moves that address your weaknesses and work on them, you might feel like a tit repeatedly getting spat off things in front of the youth team (like i do) but you should see some improvements.
Pero - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: I'm tempted to say that you should try to feel graceful and not think about it too much. You have to break your mind of logic and trust your inner self. When I do the balance moves at yoga, I find it easier if I imagine I'm an eagle flying rather than the earthbound clutz that I really am!

To quote from a Zen Koan:

What is the true way?
Everyday way is the true way.
Can I study it?
The more you study, the further from the way.
If I don't study it, how can I know it?
Do not seek it, study it or name it. To find yourself on it, open yourself as wide as the sky.
flopsicle - on 26 Mar 2013
There's lots to go at here in terms of ideas. I really like the notion of watching how people place their feet. Now it's said it sounds obvious but while I've tried to watch what people are doing I just hadn't thought to watch for more than the sequence and what body part uses which lump!

Taking my mind away from introspection might work too and I'm going to see if I can track down my ipod charger, try climbing to music. They usually have music in the background at the wall but in all honesty mostly I'm so wrapped up in what I'm doing that I don't notice it at all.

I'm not 100% sure what hand rails to use for balancing? Do you mean walking on balance bars? Weirdly I do that in the kiddy parks, I walk backwards to make it a little more 'grown up'.

And I'm a terrible dancer, enthusiastic, energetic and terrible. I got told to leave dance class as a kid, attended a charity belly dance lesson as an adult and found that nothing much had changed - I also tried Tai Chi at uni only to discover the same issues. I'm not joking when I say graceful is a long way off my default way of being and I can confidently include body awareness, spacial skills (visualising a sequence) and learning a type of movement in that fail category. All that said, nothing gives me greater pleasure than giving fate the bird and the few moments that feel a little more graceful to me give me huge pleasure. I want to be a technical climber at whatever grade, much more than I want to rely just on umph and tenacity - which I have in spades.
Ramblin dave - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:
I've found that warming up and when you're a bit tired at the end of the session are good times to try for efficient, graceful movement on stuff that's a bit below your limit. But it's not a quick thing - you basically have to drill stuff in to your way of moving until it becomes instinctive before you've got a chance of it not falling apart under stress (eg when you try something hard.) Which takes time and work.

I'm not much better than you, so take this with a pinch of salt, but exercises that I've found useful include:
* silent feet
* working at a route that you can just about thug up onsight until you can do every move elegantly
* practising dynamic movement / use of momentum on moves that you could do statically - hard to explain but Dave Mac talks about it in 9 out of 10 Climbers
* silent feet
* just rainbowing around the bouldering wall getting used to the feel of certain sorts of move
* traversing - often good for footwork, flagging, body position
* climbing easy stuff while really pumped (so you can't even start to thug it and have to be efficient)
* the game where you get on to four holds and then try to find body positions that will free up an given limb to move
* silent feet
* silent feet

I suspect that bouldering is better for practising a lot of this stuff, because it gives you more flexibility to repeatedly try stuff out, and also more opportunities to watch better climbers. Although it'll also feed back into routes if you're learning to climb more efficiently and waste less energy.
Steve nevers on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to flopsicle)

> * traversing - often good for footwork, flagging, body position

Actually a very good point, its amazing the amount of people that don't include any traversing in their training. One thing i got shown thats proved to be useful was a little drill of traversing while maintaining a certain 'facing', by this i mean is doing a traverse thats leads to your left, do it once facing the way your heading, then again 'backwards', maintaining the way your facing & making each movement controlled and static. It just makes you consider moves you might have re-orientated yourself for before. I wouldn't suggest using it as a 'technique' so to speak, just more of a warm up/movement drill.
James Oswald - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:
Silent feet

Do it religiously for the entire climbing session every time you go climbing for the next six months.
Pick a boulder problem, one that's relatively easy and do it. Count exactly how many times you hear your foot hit the foothold. Do it again trying to reduce the number of times you hear it.
Move on to another problem and do it again.

Do this on as wide a variety of problems every time you go climbing for four months. Your footwork will be significantly better when you've finished.
Tru - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

Buy the self coached climber it will help a great deal. Movement skills can be learned like anything else you don't have to free your mind and pretend to be an eagle.

The most important thing to consider is that to learn any new skill your brain has to have time react slowly at first. When you first learn to drive you are very ungraceful but in time you brain learns to process the tasks in the background enabling you to drive with more flow.

As with learning to drive you wouldn’t start on a challenging road you would start slowly on an easy route and work on one skill at a time. Once you have practiced a skill to the point where it becomes second nature then you should 'stress test' the skill by trying it on more challenging terrain until you are able to apply it smoothly at your maximize level.
Ava Adore - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tru:
> (In reply to flopsicle)
> you don't have to free your mind and pretend to be an eagle.

The stupidest bit of advice I had was to imagine you were a waterfall flowing uphill
Pero - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tru: I was guided in Peru once by a top guide who did everything - rock, ice, new routes up to 8,000m etc. When I asked him what was his favourite, he said the hard rock climbing because sometimes he would feel that he was part of the rock itself.
flopsicle - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:
I've just bought a copy of self coached climber and it arrived yesterday. It looks really interesting although I feel better maths would help me! I haven't had a good long read yet, just trying to get my head round all the COG Support Base stuff. I'm planning a beer while watching the DVD at some point soon.

I'm not sure I'd fancy silent feet exercises non stop for 6 mths - not doubting the effectiveness, just that it's my hobby my time to kick my heels up rather than really working for competition etc. If nothing else shoves me forward I might resort to 6 mths just exercises but for now a mix seems the way to go.

I will do more traversing. I used to do lots of traversing and there's a traverse I was working on for ages but it was quite demanding so it got ousted from warm up etc and to be fair I haven't really replaced it.

It looks like I'm going to get 3 days on the trot come tomorrow so I'll have chance to try lots of this out. If I turn into a swan while being an eagle flowing like a waterfall upstream I'll let everyone know.
Ramblin dave - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:
Silent feet isn't really an exercise in the same way that drilling the same move over and over again is an exercise, though, it's something that you keep in mind while you're doing whatever else you're doing - warm up, easy routes etc.

In general, though, I don't find that it's a chore to spend a good part of the session focussing on moving well on slightly easier routes rather than just on getting up as much hard stuff as possible any which way. It's satisfying in its own way.
Steve nevers on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to flopsicle)
> Silent feet isn't really an exercise in the same way that drilling the same move over and over again is an exercise, though, it's something that you keep in mind while you're doing whatever else you're doing - warm up, easy routes etc.

Agree with this really.

The thing will the Silent feet if after one or two sessions concentrating on it on most things you'll start doing it more naturally.
Towards the higher end of my capabilities I still sometimes clatter and stomp up some sections, but i tend to think to myself "Christ, that was a bit Riverdance' and then have a pop at the same section later with the aim of repeating that part of the sequence in a more controlled way.

If i'm still ragging my way up that section i'll reexamine the section and try a new series of moves, and failing that i'll cheekily watch a few other climbers on it and see if they approach it in a better way.
flopsicle - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: I think I do try to keep it in mind and improve noisy feet it's just the thought of only counting clonks on basic routes for months on end. Don't get me wrong, it belongs in the mix for solutions and would probably work but it's my hobby time so between xercise stuff I want some free time too. It's just the thought of drills throughout that's off putting.

'Scuse typos - on phone!
The Biochemist on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: Something else related to the gracefulness, that will also help silent feet - I find its helpful to better your technique by using straight arms whenever moving feet/body position. It means your weight is all on your arms (easily) and you are free to move your feet silently =)
rug - on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to Steve nevers:
..."Christ, that was a bit Riverdance'...

That made me smile. Took me back to my first VS lead. I was having a bit of a wobble, when up from below drifted the comment "I've never seen anybody breakdance on a rock climb before ..."

puppythedog on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: If there is a slab i the bouldering area where you are you could try no hands at all. I also climb very statically and do a lot of silent feet. It takes time but you will get there if you persist. You could also (if you can afford it) look into paying for some instruction?
zvm - on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

Just get Niel Gresham's Masterclass DVD and practice all the techniques he shows.

Gracefulness in climbing is really doing the most efficient body technique and also pushing with your feet first rather than with your hands.

To improve gracefulness master the following techniques - outside edging, flagging, drop knee. A variety of these can be used on virtually any angle, and doing routes without them on overhangs is almost impossible. Once your body learns to do these without thinking - you will be really graceful and go up making long overhanging F6bs and F6cs look easy
Jim Brooke - on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle:

I would recommend getting a copy of "the self coached climber". It can be quite technical, but it has loads of info on climbing movement, and exercises to help you improve it.
Stone Idle - on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: Silent feet is good but also try the 'fixed foot' game. Bouldering and wherever your foot first touches is where it has to stay for the next move. Makes yoiu real careful! Have fun
unclesamsauntibess - on 30 Mar 2013
In reply to flopsicle: Climb on rock, real rock. Also in the rain. You'll learn all you need to know very quickly. Or you will fall and die. Simples.
Nathan Adam - on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to unclesamsauntibess: +1

I find it much easier to be graceful when i'm climbing outdoors rather than pulling plastic. Everything becomes available to you (within your reach) and means you aren't focused on a single colour which throws everything else outside that colour off limits.
BarrySW19 on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to flopsicle: One thing I find useful is to try and watch better climbers on moves you do 'messily' and then try and imitate them.
unclesamsauntibess - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to flopsicle:
> (In reply to flopsicle)
> I've just bought a copy of self coached climber and it arrived yesterday.
"Self Coached Climber" - buying a book? - bit of an oxymoron isn't it? Unless you wrote it yourself...............
joshen - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to flopsicle:
not sure if anyone has already said this and can't be arsed reading all the replies. for me i found that standing on one foot with eyes closed really helped my balance and that's a big part of grace. also on easy climbs spot a move eye it up, memories it then close your eyes to make the move. it's amazing how much more you notice what your body is doing when you can't see. also keep repeating moves until you feel they're smooth and make sure you know the right ways to twist etc. i've got a mate who hasn't been climbing long, he knows he should be twisting and dropping knees, but often does it the wrong way and makes things harder for himself so the first step is to understand the moves.
joshen - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to flopsicle: oh yeah and climb with your feet not your hands, on all but the deepest ground you should generally be working on the principle that your legs do all the work and your hands are just to balance you. doesn't always work like that, but it's good to work towards. a bit of no handed climbing on slabs is always good too. start off bracing your knees on the wall, then try to progress to no hands and no knees
caradoc - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to flopsicle: Borrow a video camera and film yourself. You will learn a lot about your movement and especially how you place your feet and don't worry about style, climbing is an individual thing, everyone has their own way.

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