So you want to be a rock climbing coach? Part I – Introduction




This past weekend was my first competition youth coaching experience and I missed a fundamental piece that could have cost my competitor her rightful 2nd place for her category. I thought I covered all of the bases with preparation, strategy, and follow through and therefore was stunned when I looked at the results. I thought she had been bumped out of the Beginner category but it turns out she was registered into the wrong category from the start. I scrambled to assemble the scorer, head judge and everyone necessary to make an appeal and realized I’d dropped the ball on a critical piece that was about to make or break this young girl’s heart. Fortunately, it was no big deal. Everything was sorted out and she was re-categorized taking her deserved 2nd place win. Whew!

I’ve done a lot of coaching over the years but prefer to focus on adults. Coaching kids or youth is a very different undertaking and finding myself coaching this aspiring young lady has challenged me in different ways than I anticipated. The recent SBC ProAM was her first competition and I wanted her to have fun and do her best. Since I’d been coaching her for the last 5 weeks, it seemed reasonable that I should be there to support her. I didn’t expect that this competition would teach me a lot about the real value of coaching.

Throughout the competition we had a spectrum of emotions from successes to frustration, high-fives and near tears, coaching moments where I wasn’t sure if I made the right call to awkward consoling moments and trying to figure out how to shake off a fall at the top of a climb on the last attempt. I have never been more nervous about climbing than I was that day! We watched finals together and rooted for everyone, it was also the most fun I’d had at a competition–seeing it through fresh eyes like that. It was simply priceless.

Audrey World Cup Vail 2010

Audrey competing in the World Cup for bouldering in 2010 in Vail, Colorado

If you are a parent, friend, aspiring coach, or self-coached, this experience might help you understand how to be better prepared and address a spectrum of things that can happen when competing. The following walks you through some of the highlights and low lights of my first experience from a coach’s perspective, with observations noted. Strategies and tips for Amateur competitors based on this and my personal competition experience, which includes World Cup Competition experience, follows. Send me your feedback and tips for how I can be a better coach or things you have learned that could help me and others.

As always, thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: WordPress may include ads, which I do not endorse, to various blogs following posts.

About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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