As a climbing coach I am always keen to think outside the box, it was why I decided to spend two years studying an MSc part time to see what sports science can do for climbing. During that two year journey I realised that there was a lot of information about the best practice for sports psychology, performance physiology and effective coaching of technical skills that can be applied to climbing.
In particular I was interested in goal setting, where goals can take on different meanings and functions. So whilst its great to have a outcome or dream goal like climbing a specific route or grade, sports science has shown that it is more important to have goals that are aimed at processes you need to improve to reach those goals.
Those sports scientists have gone further than that and developed a form of performance profiling that was designed for elite athletes to find the most important five processes to work on for a short period before reassessing their performance and setting another five goals. I always though that the process of performance profiling could be automated, but didn’t know how to go about it.
A little research later and I realised that I needed to learn to code php and combine it with a database. So one day I sneaked into the computer sciences department in Bangor University and put a sign up asking for a coding tutor in php and mySQL. After three hours of teaching about database normalisation and a link to some online tutorials I set out programming. After much hair loss and frustration I eventually automated that performance profiling system for rock climbers.
The next step was based on a thought from many coaches that if you do the same thing over and over again you won’t improve just get really good at doing the same thing. Having seen the BMC’s training logbook that was the next thing I set about coding and implementing a way to see the results more easily. As logging all your training by route means that I could program a way to explore the data in more meaningful ways. So at present the overviews show number of routes, average grade and average rate of exertion if you choose to use them.
The perceive rate of exertion is a subjective scale with which you can score each route as to how hard you found it from 1 to 5. It is included because it can show improvements in performance before you see a marked increase in grade. This added sign of improvement can help you stay motivated as it is potentially a finer measure than the grade you climb.
With both these in place I them turned back to the performance profiling that has around 50 attributes that are related to climbing (if you use the system and can think of other attributes I am happy to add them to the system). I initially decided to have the pages in my book “How to Climb Harder” where you can find subjects relevant to those attributes. However I quickly realised it would be great to write articles for those attributes, but the coding was taking up so much time that I remembered I had already written dozens of articles and that there were dozens more written by other people.
Having been at the forefront of the wiki revolution in new route reporting in North Wales I thought why not code a way that I or anybody else can add links to articles, blog post or videos from around cyberspace, and instead make a repository of online resources for climbers and coaches. These are linked with the attributes in the performance profile so now when you do you profile you get a reading list for each attribute.
As a coach I also hope that eventually as I code more features and increase the functionality that more and more climber use it, and even coaches come along and monitor their clients with the system. As I have also coded a complete Mountain Training Logbook system and a way to monitor clients performance. There was also talk of the new coaching award requiring trainee coaches to be mentored by more experienced coaches and whilst I have not added this feature yet it too is planned in the future as is an Open Source Climbing Award that is linked to the national curriculum.
My point is that the site is now functioning well, and I am busy when not busy working dreaming up new ways to use the site. I have many ideas and only me to code it but for me it is more than just a site but a great way to learn a new skill as who knows what the future holds but there will come a point where maybe my body fails me and I need a new career.
The last thing I have coded is a advertising banner feature and if you have made it this far and are interested in some free advertising in return for help to promote the site then get in contact with me via icoachclimbing.com.
There are set of video tutorials that highlight the functions of the site and how you can use it.