Improve Your Sport Climbing (13): Tactics, Part 2 (EASY)


Tactical No-Brainers: Easy Decisions to Help Promote Performance Improvement (A)

Stack the odds in your favor when you’re climbing and training by paying attention to the following tactical areas (some which I’ve discussed in previous entries, and some which I’ll discuss in greater detail in future entries):

  • Partners. Choose partners who are safe, positive and supportive. The last thing you need to be thinking about or should be thinking about when you’re going for it on lead is, “Is my belayer going to catch me safely?” If you are thinking this, you will not be able to climb at your limit – ever. If your partner DOES know how to catch you safely and has proven his/her ability to do so time and again, and you’re still frozen from the fear of falling, this obviously represents a different issue (one that I’ll discuss in the next series of entries on the mental game). But if your partner doesn’t know how to do this, it’s time to either have them learn how, or to find a different partner.

    Beyond safety issues, partner compatibility can make or break a climbing day – issues such as when the day will start, the pace of the day, where to climb, how long to climb, attitude (Serious? Silly? Somewhere in between?), and so forth can have a huge impact on the success of your climbing day. Do you like to work projects with your partner, or on your own? Also, consider your partner’s attitude toward you and vice versa. Belittling comments are the last thing most people need when they’re trying to push their limits. Having a partner who is positive and supportive can be a real advantage in helping you achieve peak climbing performance.

  • Equipment. I touched on the importance of wearing climbing shoes that fit your feet properly and that match the style of climbing that you’re attempting in order to maximize your technical footwork capabilities in the previous series of blogs on technique. Along with properly fitted and functioning climbing shoes, you should make sure that you have all of the appropriate safety equipment needed for sport climbing (harness, rope, quickdraws, locking carabiner, belay device), plus the knowledge of how to use it effectively and efficiently. This represents a simple tactical choice, but it can have life-threatening consequences if ignored. Knowing how to feed rope properly for clips as a belayer is key to not sabotaging your partner’s performance, just as knowing how to clip the rope efficiently into a quickdraw is essential for your performance as a sport climbing leader. Additionally, wearing clothing that restricts your movement is a poor tactical decision, as is refusing to learn how to use “extras” that can enhance performance, such as well-fitted kneepads. Read The Best Rock Climbing Pants (LIVESTRONG.COM) and What to Wear for Bouldering (the nest) for more on this front.

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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