Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ideas for Improving

So this fall I was really struggling with my climbing. For some reason I had hit a plateau and just wasn't feeling the energy that I needed to get up to the next level. I thought that it was my endurance or strength at first, but then I started to even struggle on easy 5.10's, stuff that I should run up without a problem.

Well, I decided to put two practices into place; one is a test to let me know I am ready to move up and the other is a technique.

Firstly, the test revolved around me going backward with regards to climbing grades. I decided that I was not going to climb anything about 5.9 for two months (at twice per week, this was a lot of climbing).

Then, after two months, I decided that I was not going to climb a single 5.10's until one of my partners randomly selected a 5.9 for me to climb in two consecutive runs. This annoyed my partners by the way because they wanted to jump up grades and preferred that I find 5.9's that I could do. But the point was that in order for me to climb 5.10, I should be able to climb any 5.9 twice without a rest, regardless if I have actually climbed the route before.

This worked out great, because it really gave me time to practice the technique I used to get better at route finding and reading. It is a game that my boss and I play. Once you put your hand or foot in a position (on a hold or on the wall) then you cannot move it (even to pivot or readjust) until you make the next move. This makes the climbing very deliberate.

Now why should this work? Sounds rather static doesn't it? Well, that is the point. Dynamic climbing is great, but you lose focus sometimes on the route itself. By studying a hold, how you want to use it for the next move and what position that puts you in for the move after that, you learn a lot about how to climb a route. It also saves from making desperate lunges to holds that may be easier to gain by making an intermediate move first.

So if you want to improve your climbing, go backward onto easier routes for a long time and learn how to climb them, not just get up them. Learn to use your body position in such a way that your move puts you in a favorable position for the next move. Be deliberate. Be slow and each time you shift your hand or foot to gain better balance or a better hold, take off a point. The fewer mistakes you make, the easier you will find the harder climbs.

Good luck...

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