1/3 of All Climbing Courses in May

In a move to beat the austerity measures, here and Snowdonia Mountain Guides we are offering 33% off all courses, so for any climbing course the rate for 1 to 1 guiding, instruction or coaching is just £100 a day. If there are two of you then its £120 or just £60 per person.

Whats ever better is May is one of the best times to come to Wales, as over the last few years this month has been one of the driest and hottest months of the year. Lovely late spring sun shine which is great for exploring either the sea cliffs of Gogarth or the Mountain crags of Snowdonia.

So why not treat yourself to a little holiday and come and enjoy some of the best climbing in the world, with one of the areas most experience instructors and coaches. Contact me for more details.

The Fourth B in the 3 B’s of Technique

Just as Douglas Adams had five books in his trilogy, I am going to suggest that after you have mastered those first 3 B’s of good technique – boot, body and balance and worked on you technique then you can start working on a possible fourth B. This is a funny one, as it doesn’t really cover the technique, it is however something that if you can master will help keep you cool in a crisis, as such it is more a mental technique for keeping calm.

It is of course breathing, whether it is bouldering or climbing hard trad, breathing is a key ingredient to success. First without breathing as we climb we are less likely to be able to recover, as we need Oxygen to do that, and breathing is the very process that does this. Written down it may sounds like I am talking total rubbish, but next time you are at a wall or out bouldering or trying something really hard, ask you climbing partner to see if you are taking regular breaths. As it is not uncommon for someone faced with a challenging problem or few moves to take a deep breath and go for it, only breathing when they reach the end or fall off.

Now is the time to start to develop an awareness of your breathing, so when you are bouldering or climbing hard routes, try using a mantra like, “and…..breathe”, where you imagine yourself saying ‘and’ on the inhalation, and ‘breathe’ on the exhalation. Maybe take some time to try some boulder problems that are at 80% of your max with this new technique, so that it becomes more natural for you to breathe when getting on harder stuff.

Breathing is also and excellent indicator of our response to fear, as the cascading of hormones through us that lead to the realease of adrenalin lead to a rapid reduction in tidal volume (amount of air per breathe) and increase breathing rate, as well as raising our heart rate. A further problem is this shot of adrenalin can also narrow our focus, breaking what we might call our flow. One trick to break this mind to body reaction is to use a body to mind response.

So don’t let the adrenalin take over automatically, instead use you knowledge of this to force yourself to fight those physical responses, and slow your breathing down, and increase the tidal volume, by taking long and deep breathes. Add a mantra like “Reeeeeee – Laaaaxxxxxx”, (‘Re’ on the inhalation and ‘Lax’ on the exhalation) can help you to not only slow your breathing down but send a direct message to your brain to slow down and relax. As the frantic nature of the mind during an attack of the ‘fear’ on a route, will stop you climbing anywhere near your maximum.

As you are slowing your breathing down, take time to focus on one thing, then slowly and deliberate widen your focus, until you can start to see things like foot holds, gear and a way out. Don’t expect this to work the first time you try it, it takes about 20 session of practice to master breathing exercise, it is an excellent way to combat anxiety on the cliff.

Exercises 1 – Music

If you have watched Inception there is a part in the film where they sync there bodies to music. It is possible to do this with relaxation. At first you need to find a peice of music that you find relaxing, then simiply spend 15 miniutes a day trying to relax to it. When you are climbing you will be able to imagine that song, and you will have associated through practice with a relaxed state.

Exercise 2 – Breathing Mantra

If you have access to a heart rate monitor you can try this whilst wearing it, and see if you can get your pulse rate down over the space of 5 minutes, then 3 minutes then 1 minute, and then three breaths. The alternative is to simply take the number of pulse beats over 10 seconds and times it by 6 prior to the relaxation session and then again at the end. You should notice that over time, usually around twenty sessions that you relax quicker and quicker.

If you use the Mantra ‘Reeee’ – ‘Laaaaax’ as you breath in and out you can control your breathing into nice slow, deep and cleansing breaths.

BMC/UIAA adice of Campus Board for Youngsters

When I was researching my book ‘How to Climb Harder‘ I decided to put a advisory section in for training for Young People. In researching that I looked at a BMJ article on climbing and young people in which it hinted towards campus boarding being potentially very damaging for young people. As such I decided to advise against its use, and even went a step further an advised that extremely fingery bouldering might lead to the same thing.

After the coaching symposium the BMC decided to issue guidance to this effect, and the UIAA have followed suit. Anyway the guidance, is here on the BMC Website.

The advise is based on the fact that a young climbers fingers have not fully matured, instense campus boarding or extremely fingery bouldering can lead to permanent and serious hand injuries and even finger deformity. See the diagram from my book below, that looks at the maturation of bones in the fingers.

Finger Bone Growth and Maturation

How To……. Pass Your SPA

The SPA is a National Governing Body(NGB) Award, that trains and assess people ability to safely supervise a rock climbing session at a single pitch venue. As such the way the award operates is that you first go climbing and develop the necessary pre-requisites to register on the scheme. You then attend a Single Pitch Award (SPA) training course with a recognized course provider.

Having attended the training course you then go away and consolidate the skills you learned on the training course, climb more routes and research areas of the syllabus that weren’t covered in complete detail on the training course. The next step when you have reached minimum recommended logbook requirements is to attend the 2 day assessment.

It is the consolidation period that this post is going to concentrate on by giving you a few top tips and handy hints to make the most of your consolidation period, and get you on the right page for your SPA assessment. I am going to start with the bare minimum requirements from the pages of the SPA syllabus

The Requirements

• To be involved in the scheme 12 months experience as a ‘rock climber’ is required
• You need 40 outdoor climbs, the majority of which need to be traditional climbs (Consider this number the ‘bare minimum’)
• Assisted with the supervision of 20 climbing session (a session = half day/evening)
• Consolidated through practiced the new skills introduced on the training sufficiently to be able to perform them under the pressure of an assessment

Assessment Pressure

As I mentioned in the list of requirements, the ability to perform when under the pressure of an assessment is important. As for most people the SPA is one of the first NGB awards courses they will attend. Whilst the assessor won’t be deliberately pilling on the pressure, if like most people gaining the award is important to you, then you probably want to do you very best, this in itself can great an enormous enough pressure to effect your performance.

Making the award important to you, combined to the feeling that someone is observing you is often enough to make candidates anxious, and start to second guess the assessor, and what they want to see. Essentially all they want to see is what you would ‘Normally do’. As the tasks set on assessment are often fairly open, in that you might be ask to set up a top rope, but the exact placement of where and what you belay to and how you rig that belay is up to you.

If you have practiced setting up the key components of the SPA – top-rope, bottom rope, and group abseil. Then it should feel less stressful, as you have a clear picture in your mind, the less you practice the fuzzier that picture can become when you are assessed, as fear and anxiety start to take over your mind
So practice, practice and practice is the best way to avoid assessment pressure, as it will increase your confidence. How much practice is down to each individual based on there experience and there ability to learn.

A further way to practice for assessment pressure is to pay for a SPA refresher/ assessment prep day. Where you get an experience instructor put you through your paces in a mock assessment with some additional top tips and teaching point, again even your assessment can have some learning and further training as part of it.

Personal Climbing

All you have to do on an assessment is climb Severe, maybe less if its wet or raining. Again what the assessor is looking for is what you’d normally do. So a nice example of you leading a route in style and comfort will immediate make the assessor think, well they are a climber, and therefore have relevant experience.

Don’t be tempted to try a route at your limit, your SPA probably isn’t the place to be shaking you way up a VS! Again those 40 routes on trad gear should be seen as a bare minimum, if you are a climber then this shouldn’t feel like you are ticking boxes, it should feel you are going out climbing.

Technical Equipment

To be a SPA holder you will need to have a reasonable understanding of the safety equipment. In terms of the CE and UIAA stamps, breaking strains and what they mean to a SPA holder, as well as have an idea of several different types of harness, and the differences between major rope types.

This is because you as an SPA holder are one of the most likely instructors to teach beginners. As such I see the SPA and CWA as a vital award for starting people off on the right foot. So if one of your clients wants to start indoor climbing, then you might be their best bet for some advice on buying a harness, rock boots and belay device. As such you need to have a certain breadth and depth of knowledge on equipment.

Set Pieces

There are a few fairly fundemental set pieces that you need to show you are confident in teaching, these are putting a harness on, tying in and belaying. Be able to teach these, most people have a preferred method.

Similarly top-ropes, bottom ropes and group abseils are almost set pieces, that often change ever so slightly based on venue and the equipment to hand.

Coaching basic movement and techniques

There is a growing emphasis on coaching in climbing, the MLT are currently creating bolt on to the SPA, CWA and MIA that cover coaching. However even in the SPA we would expect a candidate to have some basic knowledge. I recommend buy my book how to climb harder, as it is based on a lot of what I do when teaching climbers to climb, and it has a lot of exercises that you can develop.

Access and Conservation

This can be assessed in a home paper and at a crag. It is important that you are aware of access and conservation issues across the UK. This can be from reading the BMC access leaflet, or gained from keeping an eye on the BMC website or BMC Forum on UKC. To register on the scheme you will need to be a member of the BMC and their quarterly Summit magazine, as well as much of the intro leaflets they send with the membership is full of information that you can read.

Problem Solving and Avoidance

This is another area that some people have problems with, they either fail to see what the problem is or go overboard with the rescue. The very essence of the syllabus is that you avoid the know pitfalls of single pitch climbing with a group. Typically these could be seen as:

• An Appropriate Venue or Route
• No Ledges half way up for the clients to get ledge bound on
• Belays position so the rope can’t get caught or snagged

There are more, but these are typical things that on assessment if you choose to set up on a route that has one or more of these potential mishaps on it, then the assessor is likely to make you run through a scenario.

Some candiates come to the assessment almost too prepared, in that they are aware of various hoists and more advance rescue precedures, and forget that all SPA rescue and problems solving can be solves from the top down, using gravity rather than fighting it. At the very most you may have to ascend a rope, to reach your client and abseil down.

Here are some scenarios, in each I have stipulated a set-up and activity, and then a problem. First of all decide how you would set up the system, then work through how you could deal with the problem, include how you think you might have avoided the problem in the first place, and if different set-ups would have made the problem easier or harder to solve. If you have difficulties with any of them, then please get hold of me via email or phone, or alternatively have a discussion with other instructors. I will be happy to talk you through the possible solutions.

1. Set up a bottom roping system at on route and crag you know. During the session one of your clients refuses to come down from the top. What are your first actions? What if they totally refuse to come down?

2. Set up a Bottom rope system on a route and crag you know. During the session the rope becomes jammed, and there is a client half way up. What are your immediate actions? What happens if the rope remains stuck?

3. Set up a group abseil. What are you looking for in an appropriate site? During the session a child’s hair becomes entrapped in the descender? What do you do?

4. Set up a group abseil. A client is reluctant to go down the abseil, after a lot of convincing they abseil down to a ledge halfway up the cliff and unweight the abseil rope and refuse to move. What are you going to do? Would it be different on a 25m cliff compared to say a 30m+ cliff?

5. Set up a top roping system, and belay a climber up a route to the top, as they climb their foot becomes entrapped in a crack. What do you do?

6. Set up a top rope and belay a climber up a route, during the climb the rope becomes trapped in a crack. What do you do?

7. You have set up three top ropes at a crag, and a climber on the middle route becomes dangerous off route, and its looking like they may take a nasty pendulum. What do you do? How could you have prevented it?

If you can successfully think through each of these, then you might want to try them on a small cliff or bluff. I suggest small because there is still a potential for you to undo the wrong thing at the wrong time, being lower to the ground (within 6ft) and having the ropes weighted will make it realistic and contextual, and help you learn these almost set pieces of the SPA world.

Assisting and Supervision experience

To really prepare for the scheme you will need to assist on some session. I advise that you do this as soon as possible. Your first port of call may well be another SPA you know, a climbing wall or a youth group who have an instructor already. My advice is to go direct, many centre or groups are often sent hundreds of CV’s every month, by making the time to come in and see the relevant person in person, says a lot for your commitment.

Ask whether you can observe, and see there operating guidelines or procedures, ask about what you read in the procedures, in terms of why they might state as a tying in method, belay method or even limit to number of ropes being used.

If all else fails, try asking some of your friends climbing, explain what you are doing, and start with one or two, before you rush head long into a team of eight. Also try and mix it up between indoor, outdoors, trad and sport climbing.

Skill’s Checklist

Finally there is a list of all the skills that are covered in the syllabus, that is found at the back of you SPA logbook pages. My final top tip is to read through the syllabus and mark you current skill level in pencil so that when you have worked on an element of the syllabus you can remark your level of competence. Only when you look good to go on the skills in the check sheet, should you book an assessment.

As believe it or not, an assessor can easily see what your weakness is, as you will go about the assessment going to any length to avoid using that skill. The assessor will quickly think why didn’t he do this or that, and may well set another task, if they think the same skills have been avoided they may well ask you to perform that specific skill, as we are trying to assess the ‘whole’ syllabus, not just the parts you are good at!

At the end of the day, we are looking for a safe performance, many assessors imagine in there mind whether or not they would be happy for you to supervise a group of kids out on a crag for the day. At the end of teh day the assessor wants to pass you, you just need to avoid giving them a reason not to!

Good luck, and if you are looking for an SPA assessment then you can have a look here at course dates being run by Andy Newton. If you’d like a SPA refresher or Assessment prep day or evening based in north wales, then have a look here.

Mark McGowan 6a to 8a

Whilst I was away travelling I think there was an article on Mark in Climber magazine, I was alerted to his blog by a colleague at Plas Y Brenin, but finding the time to look at his blog has taken me a few months. Basically Mark used to compete at climbing to a high level, and took several years off from climbing, no doubt to concerntrate on more life oriented things. He then got back into the sport and decided to set himself a challenge of going from falling off F6a sports routes to Redpointing F8a, in a staggering 180 days.

Whilst he did not blog prolifically, he did make 18 post that are tagged on his website “6a to 8a 180 days”. It is these posts that I think are really interesting from a coaching perspective, as he does many things that organised his training and set milestones along the way that if followed would lead to the achievement that many people would love to do, myself included, and climb F8a.

There are only two pages of his posts of reaching this goal, some of which are linked to documents he has made on training specifically for it. As such I recommend looking at Mark’s Blog and having a read through it. He is currently on a mission to onsight 8a and is in europe working on that goal as I type, Good luck to him. He is also a part of REACH climbing coaching.

UPDATE 2012: Marks Blog seems to have died, but he is now blogging here at Reach Climbing.

Body Position: The final part of efficiency

So far in this mini series we have looked at two aspects of the 3 B’s of good climbing technique – The Boot and Balance, here we look at the final piece Body Position. If the Boot was the foundation of good technique, balance adds the context in which we need to climb, then Body Position is the final tweak to help us save as much energy as possible by position our body in a balanced position above out boots.

One piece of research in climbing looked at tracking the centre of gravity of competition climbers, during climbing route under competition conditions. The findings were interesting, as they found a correlation between the average distance of the climbers centre of gravity (they used a point near the climbers belly button) and the wall. The more successfully the climber the closer to the wall the centre of gravity was.

To the average climber this means that we have to get out CoG (Centre of Gravity) as close to the rock as possible. If you are at home or work try this exercise, get up and stand with your toes against the wall, now look at the distance between your belly button. Now turn side ways and get your oustide and inside edge of your shoes against the wall. You CoG will have move closed to the wall.

On rock this does two things, one reduce the leverage on your calf muscles meaning your less likely to get disco leg. It also reduces the force on your hands as more of your weight is over you feet. Most people when they start out make the mistake of being very face onto the rock, this is the behaviour we want to interupt and replace with nice side on climbing, the only way to do this is to concentrate on climbing sideways on very easy routes so it becomes second nature.

Exercise 1 – Climbing Sideways

The idea is to start to force your body to be side on. The easiest way to achieve this is to look across the face. So if you were climbing on Dinas Mot then sideways would be facing Pen Y Pass or Llanberis. This gives you an inside hand and an outside hand. Try climbing a route facing first right, then left.

The next step is to then zig-zag up the rock, using lines of holds that lead up like little ganagways. At the end of each zig or zag you need to quickly pivot round to face in the oppoesite direction.

Exercise two – Side on with the inside hand

Here you can combine being side on and zig-zagging up the rock but only use the inside hand. If you like you can inagine you are busy n the phone taking a call, and as you pivot round you can change the hand in which you are holding your imaginary phone in.

Exercise Two – Flagging

On steeper rock you need to understand that being side onto the rock is still a key to success. So try developing inner and out flags.

Innder flag
Outer flag

More Information and exercises for improving your technique can be found in the amazing new book “How to Climb Harder”, a climbers self coaching manual that re-defined the How to genre by making it as interactive for the reader as possible. The book is available from Pesda Press, alternatively ask for it in your local climbing store as it is available through Cordee the major distributor of outdoor books in the UK.

Balance: The key to efficiency

This is the second in a three part mini series on the fundementals of technique, that covers the three B’s of climbing – Boot, Balance and Body Position. In the first of the series we looked at aspects of the Boot and footwork, if you like the foundations of goof technique. In this post we look at Balance and how to develop it. In the final piece we will look at utilising body position. By the end you will hopefully have a basic framework to improve you technique by unlearning bad technique and reinforcing the good!

So what is balance to a climber. In this context I am talking about a stable position, if for example you are sat down at the moment, stand up but don’t use your hands to push yourself up. The chances are you will rock your body forwards and find a position where you are stood on two feet. Now move your weight to one foot, again the chance are you shift your weight by a few inches so that it is above that one foot.

A good yardstick to judge where you have shifted your weight to is your belly button. Imprtantly though your balance is run through your inner ear, feedback from your big toe, and visual clues from the surrounding area. Whilst it impossible to turn off the inner ears sense and feedback from the big toe, however we can turn of the visual feedback.

So this time stand up on two feet, and now close your eyes. Be careful, and try and stand up on one foot. You can help yourself by taking your shoes off and trying to use that big toe for feedback. This is an exercise that you can do at virtually anytime, to help develop your balance.

One of the big errors climbers can make indoor and out, both on lead and seconding, is not completing a move and stopping when their weight has come off the lower foot, but not fully traversed to the upper foot. The result is that you are left having to pull a lot harder than if you completed the move. This cvan be especially prevalent when placing gear on a route, as the climber see’s a gear placement but not the more restful position of moving half a move further on and getting there weight above there foot.

Exercise 1 – Rest – move – Rest – move

As a build up to this you first need to get an idea about restful positions or even positions that offer a slight respite on steeper terrain. This is best done round the bottom of a crag or on a bouldering wall. The trick is to realise that there are times when we are moving up, and times when we are stood still, and when we are stood still we need to try and make a nice stable and balance position.

So everytime you second try making a move and then developing a rest. You might need to make a few moves to reach the next rest, however you also need to start identifying this rest from the ground. Typically they are good edges, ledges, grooves and slabs.

Exercise Two – Blind seconding

Another way to develop your balance in a more contextual way is to try seconding with your eyes closed. Here you will have to rely on the belayer to direct you, but you also need to be able to ‘feel’ for rest rather than see them. I recommend closing your eyes rather than using a blindfold, as you can easily open your eyes if you are about to fall. Importantly the belayer needs to keep the rope snug.

Exercise Three – One and No Handed Climbing

This exercise requires you to climb one or no handed. You’ll be surprised how hard you can climb with one hand. I once spent half a day with a young Leo Houlding trying to climb Peotry Pink a classic E5 slab on Slate with one hand. Leo eventually lead the route with only his right hand! I actually found 95% of the route easier to climb one handed as I had to be more in balance and trust my feet more. This exercise can be done when seconding or bouldering, as is a great way to develop good technique, as success very much depends on it.

Key Point

  • Use seconding up routes to work on technique, rather than following without a purpose.
  • Try balance exercises
  • Eliminating eye sight enhances ‘senses of balance’
  • Concentrate on finding rests
  • One and No Handed Climbing makes you be more balances and develops trust in feet.

More Information and exercises for improving your technique can be found in the amazing new book “How to Climb Harder”, a climbers self coaching manual that re-defined the How to genre by making it as interactive for the reader as possible. The book is available from Pesda Press, alternatively ask for it in your local climbing store as it is available through Cordee the major distributor of outdoor books in the UK.

Boot: The Foundation of Good Technique

Done well climbing is something of a beautiful dance, every climber has a pace, rhythm and style of there own. Hidden in the gait, is a wealth of experience and technique that can seem quite unfathomable to a beginner. Unfortunately there are no short cuts to such perfectionism, and it is often years of experience, combined with a questioning mind that takes feedback from as many places as possible.

The above video highlights what good technique is, i have to thank Paul Diffley from Hot Aches who put the video online for me specifically for this series of blog posts. It comes from his collection of short climbing films called Commited Vol 1.

A Nobel prize winner, said that it takes 10000 hours of ten years of deliberate practice to perform to the most elite of levels in any sport. Note the word deliberate it is there because as one sports science, John Fazey I believe who coin the term first, ‘It is not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect’. All that practice is going to do is make any movement pattern permanent and harder to unlearn.

Other sports scientists have suggested that we will take at least 150 reptitions of an isolated skill to move from the conscious to the unconscious. If you add in the problem of leanrt bad technique, then overcoming this takes a lot more direct and deliberate practice.

The idea that improvements in technique can lead to quicker and better improvements in climbing performance is something that I strongly believe in. I have said on here before that for 90% of Climbers that improvement in technique will lead to improvements 90% of the time. I am probably being cautious here with my percentages.

It begs the question what is good technique and how can we work on improving it. To answer this ephemeral question, I think we need to ask what bad technique is, and what we can observe and learn from it. Firstly people with bad technique, in my opinion suffer from a few major problems, these are best described as the three B’s of technique – Boot, Balance & Body Position.

Here I am going to concentrate on the Boot aspect of these three pillars of good technique. This is going to include rock shoes, how we use footholds and the Speed/Accuracy Trade off.

Rock Shoes

First up, you are only going to be as good as the shoe’s you are wearing. Too tight and you will be in so much pain half way up a pitch that you will invariable have a preferred place to stand on a hold with your foot, to minimise the pain. An overtight boot, can also bunch your toes up some much that it becomes near impossible to smear on the rock, as you develop and overly aggressive toe down position, which might be great if you boulder or climb steep limestone, but will do you no good if you want to climb that Three Pebble Slab at Froggat!

Too loose however and your foot will move about inside the shoe, severely limiting your ability to stand on a small edge. Given that many routes require standing on edges, if over the years you have fallen off edge after edge due to over large boots, this is going to directly effect your confidence in standing on them, and therefore you ability to simply believe that, as John Redhead said ‘A weight foot never slips!’.

So your first port of call for addressing the Boot part of the technique trilogy could well be a shop for some new shoes. To give you an idea of how this can effect climbing, many climbers who climb the hard slate slabs where edging in taken to its very limited often believe that a new pair of good edging boots it worth at least a grade and a half on slate. On the flip side on friction based slabs and climbs a more broken in pair of boots designed with a softer midsole that allows more of the rubber to be place onto the rock is much better. Whatever type of rock you climb the most of, is the type of shoe you should get.

The Sweetspot: Using Foothold

The next step it to realize that rock boots have more than one place that you can stand on a hold, and that every hold has a unique sweet spot on which to stand. So having got an appropriate fitting pair of shoes, you need to start working on your foot work, as however you climb at the moment good or bad is probably happening automatically. To override this you need to start making a deliberate and conscious effort to over come this.

Exercise 1 – The sweet spot

To start with everytime you go out climb start to look along the base of the crag, at five to ten different foot holds. Look at them and if neccessary feel them and try and stand on each one in two or three different ways. Try hopping up and down on them, and decide which of the ways was best. Remember that you can stand on your toes, the inside and the outside edge of the boot. Often the best way is to use the inside or outside edge, this is because it helps us to utilise the body position that we will exaime in the body part of the trilogy.

This exercise can be done in isolation bouldering, by identify the sweet spot on all possible foothold on simple boulder problems and concentrating on using those holds how you identify you would. Above all though the idea is that you look at a foot hold and decide how you are going to place your foot on it before you move. In essence it is LOOK – ANALYZE – PLACE

Becoming Accurate with your feet

The next part of the the Boot part of technique is the speed and accuracy trade off. Basically in everything we do we can either be quick or accurate, but never both as a a result of speed or accuracy deminishes. Try drawing a simple bulleyes target on a piece of paper, and place it on a desk, now try and place your index finger in teh middle of the bullseye as quickly as possible, then try and do the same thing as slowly as possible. The chances are you missed the target when going quickly.

So the first step towards accuracy is slowing everything down, and if you remember the last exercise and the LOOK – ANALYZE – PLACE. This takes time and helps you to slow everything down. Like a marksman or sniper we can train ourself to be be more accurate, although again accuracy can be seen in terms of precision and consistency.

Precision is the ability to hit a target, which is the true end point we are looking for, however we might be very precise, but consistently just miss the target because our aim is slightly off. Therefore we need to work up to consistently hitting the target as precisey as possible.

Exercise 2 – Acciracy and Precision

There are some exercises for working on this inside here. However outside we can do a similar thing, in that we can make targets for us to hit. The easiest way to do this is to use chalk to hitlight the sweet spot of a hold. I will often do this when standing below a crux, by simply adding a chalk dot to every possible foothold, this then gives me a target. However to start with try a traverse and tick the sweet spot of the holds, deliberate slow down your movements and try and place onto the footholds first time. You can also try this everytime you are seconding or toproping a route.

Key Points

  • Well fitting rock boots
  • LOOK at a Hold – ANALYZE it – PLACE your foot on the sweet spot
  • Concentrate on ACCURACY, not speed
  • Set yourself a goal for each route, session, day e.g. I will focus on ANALZYING footholds, or PLACING my feet ACCURATELY
  • It will take over 150 repitions over several session to unlearn bad habits and Learn new ones and make them a unconscious decision.

More Information and exercises for improving your technique can be found in the amazing new book “How to Climb Harder”, a climbers self coaching manual that re-defined the How to genre by making it as interactive for the reader as possible. The book is available from Pesda Press, alternatively ask for it in your local climbing store as it is available through Cordee the major distributor of outdoor books in the UK.