Improve Your Sport Climbing (12): Technique, Part 10 (EASY-HARD)


I’ve only just scratched the surface in this series on climbing technique. I consider climbing technique to be an area in which endless learning is possible, no matter how long a person has climbed or how technically proficient they may already be. Keeping this in mind and keeping an open mind about learning and refining your climbing technique includes being able to listen to and process feedback from other climbers, both from observing how they execute movements and from direct (solicited or unsolicited) commentary that you may receive about your own technique. Instead of getting offended if someone says something is “off” about your technical execution, evaluate their feedback dispassionately, deciding whether or not what they have told you has any merit. If you’re not sure, ask a few other people about it.

If you have a technical issue that needs correction or refinement or integration into your climbing, make it a priority to correct, refine or learn that technique. With frequent repetition, you can make this a part of your climbing game relatively quickly (the exact amount of time depends on how much repetition, how fast you learn, the complexity of the technique, and whether you have the strength to execute it properly, of course).

I’ve learned so much about technical aspects of climbing from watching other climbers and from direct feedback, both. Early on, I remember a climber watching me on a traverse in a gym, and telling me that all I needed to do was focus more consciously on tightening and engaging my core muscles to succeed; they were totally right, and I was delighted and grateful for the pointer. Ditto for the person who observed that I always tried to keep both my feet on the wall all the time (which led to an excited explosion of learning how to choose foot positions due to finding the right balance for my body instead of using the obvious footholds). More recently, in learning how to climb severely steep climbs, I’m stoked to be finding greater comfort with all sorts of techniques that I didn’t really understand or use well/often before – techniques like heel hooks (love ‘em!); knee bars (learning to like them); bicycles, toe hooks, and so forth.

Being open to both feedback and direct observation, and then having the patience to figure out why and how other climbers use the techniques you’re not as adept at or just learning for the first time can yield tremendous results, even if you never get stronger than you are right now. And that leads me right into the next series on climbing tactics, or how you can strategize for success by stacking everything you have available to you right now in your favor.

This multipart series of blogs and articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. My designation of each area as “easy,” “medium” or “hard” is purely subjective. I’ve arrived at the designations from my personal experience garnered from 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change. You also might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

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