Katherine @lovetoclimb facebook page

Technique: how to work on it

Making technique a focus is hard, uncomfortable, not instantly gratifying and hence few people do it.  But the fact of the matter is that putting time into your technique works.  Every single person I know who is good at a certain kind of climbing, be it cracks, dynos or blank grooves, has put significant time into it and gone through a period of intense struggle and failure in order to come out the other side with success.  I've put together some practical ideas here along with some changes in attitude that may or may not help.

Weight transfer

Beata experimenting reaching the top via shifting hips rather than just locking off

  1. Be honest with yourself and reflect on the kinds of moves you find difficult and if you can't think of any you'll know the ones you dislike.  These are the techniques you need to concentrate on; jamming, smearing and slopers are classics.  If you really cannot do this for yourself, ask a friend's opinionn and be prepared for the truth!!   
  2. Once you've established say 2 key techniques (be realistic, you can't tackle all of it at the same time) put in effort at the beginning of each session to work on them.  Technique needs to be worked on when your brain is freshest.  Make it part of your warm up, or the first thing you do following your warm up.
  3. Bouldering is the easiest way to work on technique, but if you don't like this (and if you don't then it means you need to do it), sling a rope on a kind of route that you know you need to work on.
  4. Search out a boulder problem or climb, which includes those types of handholds, footholds or technique.  If you are trying to work on slopers then look for a series of slopey handholds.  Try to hang them.  From a jug climb to the sloper.  Then link the sloper to another jug.  Complete the whole sequence and then start adding more slopers...  Add in more footholds if necessary and then eliminate them.
  5. Try to separate grade from the technique.  Most likely you'll have to pick a grade that for you is disappointingly low and on all other kinds of climbing you would normally find easy.
  6. Wear your best shoes.  If you are working on footwork be prepared.  You'll never give yourself the best chances if you have a hole in your shoe or the rubber has worn right down your edges.  I am a big fan of wearing my worn out shoes at the wall, but not for when I'm trying technique.  Know the difference good shoes make.
  7. Be prepared to struggle - the fact you are struggling means this is exactly the right thing for you to practise.  Start with 5 minutes practice, then 10 minutes and more.  It will feel hard initially, then you might get a little bit of success and at some point it will go downhill when your brain is tired.  At this stage go and do something else fun that is less taxing on the brain.  With a persistent attitude, you'll get a breakthrough moment.  You are training your neural pathways to make connections - they won't fire immediately - then they will fire  - and finally it'll become automatic.
  8. Climb with someone else.  Sometimes you can have a lot of fun failing on something repeatedly with a friend who is at the same level.  Work together as a team and laugh at your errors.  Failing can be fun with the right attitude.  Or climb with someone who is better than you, who you know is good at this kind of technique.  Watch carefully what they do and ask them questions as to how they got good at that technique.  Ask for their feedback but be prepared to not take anything personally if you don't like what you hear!