Prana: Inside Game Videos

Having trained in Sport Psychology and knowing how much of climbing performance comes down to our mental skills to succeed I was really please when I found this sereis of videos on Prana’s YouTube Channel. I have just embeded on video but its not too hard to find the rest of them plus a couple from their mindfulness ambassador.

I found the links using the news feature on iCoach Climbing, as it constantly refreshes news items showing the post from latest 24 hour hours. You have to visit the original site to get the full article as I decided not to rip off all the detaiuls from the RSS feed instead just a quick overview and links.

Anyway there are currently 8 episodes on a variety of subjects, I have added them to the iCoach Library and they now link to the various relavent performance profile attributes.


How to Climb Harder Course

I have spent the last three days running a How to Climb Harder Course for one climber who wanted to imporve his climbing. He already led up to VS and we focus on finding what he needed to do to start pushing through the grades.

On the first day we headed to Tremadog and climbing One Step in the Clouds, Grim Wall Direct, Merlin Direct, Yogi and the first Pitch of Grim Wall. We focused on improving his technique and getting him to start breaking a route down into chunks and planning the climb as he progressed. By the end of the day James was climbing a lot more smoothly.

The second day due to the weather we went sports climbing at Castle Inn Quarry, which meant that I could let James do some leading. He led 7 routes there up to F5+ and was looking very comfortable putting the technique and tactics in practice. It soon clouded over and we broke for lunch in the nick of time, as the heavens opened. After a brief stop at Penmean Head where it also rained and we headed to the Ormes and climb Green Flash and Mumbo Jumbo. These were great for getting James to learn how to deal with roofs and overhangs.

Finally today we headed back to Tremadog and after a damp ascent of Poor Man Peurterey, we headed up Scratch. Where the sun came out and dried everything off, so James lead the top pitch whilst I coached him up it. After that I abseiled down and arranged some gear below the roof of Scratch Arete.

James then lead up to the roof, got psyched up and did exactly what I said attacking the overhang and moved quickly through it to jugs and gear. After that he was home and dry and had lead HVS. To finish the day off I ran up Rio before heading back to Beddgelert for Ice Creams. I hope and believe that James’ climbing definitie improved over the three days and more importantly he has some exercises to go away with to continue the improvement in hos technique and a process to fall back on to tactically plan an ascent.

If you’d like to find more about the rock climbing coaching courses in run in North Wales then follow the link.

iCoach Developments – News pages and Coaching Status

I have been nusy coding up some more iCoach functions whilst my editor is on holiday. I has taken a week or so to get back into coding but I have finally gotten there. So first off I have coded up a dynamic news page. It acts more like a news paper where it searches news feeds from various RSS and ATOM feeds and strips them down to only 100 words and gives you the option to visit the permanent link to the authors site.

After 24 hours the news is history, to me it seemed a great way to have a constant feed of news items on a webpage. The coding behind it means that the results are there super quickly, so no waiting around for page loads.

I have also been working behind th scenes to make a registration process for coaches and ways to monitor a single client or a group of them. At present these features are hidden but if you are interested in using iCoach Climbing in your coaching then please keep an eye on the site, as hopefully within a week I will launch this section of the site and move onto another section that should be equally as useful to coaches and climbers alike.

If you are using iCoach and have any feedback I am more than happy to recieve it, simialrly if you are a manufacturer, shop owner or somehow in the climbing/outdoor industry then I am offering free advertising in return for some promotion of the site through your social media channels.


MIA: Refresher Days for Trainees

After my work last week with an aspirant MIA. I got a call today from another MIA trainee looking for some refresher days prior to their assessment. I have hopefully managed to hook him up with some observations on a climbing course I am running later in the month and then arrange a couple of other days to cover other aspects of the syllabus.

Given there is sometime between now and those dates, we agreed to open up the courses to anyone else who would like a refresher for their MIA. The two days I am running are a rope rescue day and a scrambling day.

Rope Rescue Refresher Day for MIA Trainees – 7th September

This is a workshop day where we will cover various aspects of the rescue syllabus for the Mountain Instructor Award (MIA). The rescues make up one day of the five day assessment. Inparticular we will look at a variety of basic to more advance problems and then work through solutions at a crag.

The cost of this course is £80 and based on a ratio of up to 1:4.

Scrambling Refresher Day for MIA Trainees – 14th September

This day is based on exploring the scrambling element of the MIA Syllabus and is partically based by heading out into the hills to climb a classic grade II+ scramble using short roping, short pitching and other techniques to safeguard clients in scrambling terrain.

The cost of this course is £80 and based on a ratio of 1:2

Top find out more about these courses please contact me direct through my Snowdonia Mountain Guides Website

MIA Teaching Day Refresher and Instructor Mentoring

I had a really nice days work yesterday where a client came to me for some extra guidance on the teaching climbing day of an MIA. He had been deferred and felt he needed some extra guidance to help prepare for his re-assessment later in the year. As such I think there are several thing that might help any aspirant MIA when it comes to there assessment.

The first thing we talked about was the format of the assessment where generally you either meet the students you will teach on the morning or get a short profile on them the night before. As such unlike virtually all the coaching I have done you have one day to assess and teach them.

During my Msc we touched on what were described as counselling skills, where you use both effective listening and questioning to get as rapidally as possible down to an underlying problem. To achieve this you need to listen to what a client says and then ask more probing question to find specifics and clarify what they mean. So for example I get many people who want to improve there trad climbing and will often get emails or phone calls asking if I can help them with their climbing. This is the start point for my assessment.

“I might ask back what specifically do you think you need help on?”

“Well I think all my skills need brushing up” might come the reply. This reply is a universal response where the client has attributed ALL of their climbing skills to being bad or in need of improvement. Similarly if they say everytime, always or other phrase that casts a massive web to be cast over many skills you can replay by throwing that back at the client.

“All you climbing skills?” This makes them revaluate the question as it can make them realise they are applying a blanket rule to a whole manner of situations. They might reply.

“Well not all my skills, I think just always seem to get pumped and struggle to get gear in.”

Here we are getting down to specifics, however is struggling to get gear in a cause of getting pumped or a sympton. So we need to follow that up with some more questions and observations later on in the day.

“So do you think it is a problem with your efficiency of movement and planning a route that leads to you getting pumped or a general fitness one?”

“Well I train indoors and find that I can climb (a grade that is harder than they climb outdoors), so maybe its an efficiency probem?”

“OK, it sounds like it might be an efficiency problem so how does getting you to work on your movement and planning on a climb, combined with some gear placement sound”. I could also question what specifically is it with gear placements you are having trouble with (finding place to place it, selecting the right piece or size or is it a issue of trust?)

Assuming they agree we then need to find out what level they are climbing at. I find it most useful to asked where they have climbed in the last year. Most people will have climbed somewhere I have been to across the UK. So if I asked where have you climbed and there reply was well, “The Lakes, Swanage and Stanage”. As I am more knowledgable about stanage and Swanage I might asked what rotues have you climbed there? The hope is I can find a route I have also climbed or know about to ask them how they found that specific route. Based on this I will then choose a venue and routes appropriatefor there needs. Hopefully that helps you see a process for identifying a clients needs and assessing ability even before you head onto the rock.

Again try to ask question that give specific answers, then clarify or explore that specific problem in more detail until you feel you are at the route of the problem.

When at the crag I’d advise anybody to take a client up a route near the grade they claim to climb (Generally I have found men state the hardest route they haev ever climbed, women often state the average route they are happy climbing, although its not always the case). I often just get climbing so I can just see how they approach a climb and were my initial assessments a fair judgement or do I need to reassess them? I nearly always use series climbing as it is better for teaching. I will also leave the belay free by making one above the stance out of the way. When the client gets to the stance, I will ask them if they can make a belay for me. If they can’t I will offer some teaching. If they can I will leave them to it, as I can see how they choose and place gear and how they tie into the belay. I then repeat this for the next client on the next pitch. In two pitches I will have seen both clients belay me the leader, as well as a bring up a second from above, place some gear, make a belay and seen how they are climbing. After those two pitches I will often adjust my day to suit both what I assessed verbally prior to the climb and what I assess on the rock bring the clients up in series.

Returnign back to my client for yesterday he had some more specific questions on teaching lead climbing and progressions. So I showed him some set ups and how to re-belay a rope as well as talked about some soft skills. I have done two posts on this subject  before one on set ups for teaching lead climbing and one on the soft skills of teaching lead climbing.

We also covered some thing the second can do to work on technique like climbing sideways and zig-zaging, climbing one handed, finding hands off rests and clapping, climbign slowly and other techniques to promote better efficiency. There are lots of ideas in my book ‘How to Climb Harder

The final thing we covered was how to get someone planning a route before and during a lead. Here I nearly always get my clients to asnwer two questions before they move. Where is the nest rest or respite and where is the next gear. On easy routes these are generally in similar places. However I always get them to practice on a few easy routes before moving them on so it becomes engrained as a subconscious thing that they just do. I also add in breathing so when they get to a rest or respite they have a deep cleansing and relaxing few breates to help steady themselves before they push on.

Hopefully a few people find this helpful. I do offer instructor mentoring and I am more than happy to do a days extra training with an aspirant MIA. I also offer a mental skills for climbing instructors course that will help you when teaching lead climbing.



What can we learn from the Olympic Games?

I have been amazed with the Olympics and my studies into performance physiology and sports psychology has made me more aware than I ever was before as to the efforts and challenges that these athlete face just to turn up on the start line of a heat for the Olympics.

Whilst climbing has not featured in the Olympics (fingers crossed and hoping it will), I did notice that during the games that there were at least two athletes I heard of who had used climbing as part of there preparation. Whilst these athletes were generally using climbing as a way to develop upper body strength as a form of cross training.

What I think is interesting is that I rarely hear of climbers using another sport for cross training. I mean just look at those gymnasts, I had shoulder envy from both the men and even some of the women. The Taekwondo competitiors had the flexibility that many climbers would die for and who wouldn’t want the power endurance of Phelps.

So as a coach one thing I want to take away is that when training for climbing using cross-training can’t be a bad thing. Also as a climbing coach, I am wondering whether it would be interesting to partner up with local swimming or gymnastic coaches and do some skills sharing when trainign young climbers, swimmer or gymnasts. With gymnastic being an early specialastion sport compared to the late specialisation sport of climbing, it would seem to me an obvious choice as a sport to encourage promising young climbers to participate into avoid the problems of over training in young climbers.

Just a thought anyway.



Indoor Coaching Course – Winter 2012/13

I am offering some indoor climbing coaching courses over this winter. All the courses are aimed at improving climbing performance and the courses are running every weekday night. At the moment there are two sessions a night. One early session for under 18’s that runs from 4pm to 5.30pm, although if the concensus is to start later then I will change thta start time to around 4.30pm. The second session runs from 7pm to 8.30pm and is for 16+.

All courses will run on a maximum ratio of 1 to 6, allowing us to focus on yourt specific training needs. Where alongside face to face coaching we will also use icoach climbing a web based training application developed by myself specifically to coach indoor climbing. The main focus is on three most important aspects of climbign performance.

The benefits of the physical side of training, the efficiency gains we can make through better technique and the psychological gains that can be made through apply mental skills training. All is this possible because Mark Reevs the coach has  not only years of experience coaching climbing but holds the mountain instructor award and has a masters level degree in Applied Sport Science.

The courses cost £5 per session not including entry to the wall which will be charge at the group entry rate. The whole 6-8 weeks half term must be paid in advance. For more information on the coaching courses you can contact mark reeves our visit the following link to find out more about your coach.


  • 5pm -6.30pm – Advanced  – under 18
  • 7pm – 8.30pm -Advanced –  16 years +


  • 5pm -6.30pm – Under 18 and abilities
  • 7pm – 8.30pm – 16+ years and all abilities


  • 5pm -6.30pm – Under 18 and abilities
  • 7pm – 8.30pm – Advanced – 16 years +


  • 5pm -6.30pm – Under 18 and abilities
  • 7pm – 8.30pm – 16 years +


  • 5pm -6.30pm – Under 18  and abilities
  • 7pm – 8.30pm – 16 years +