Sometimes in my coaching or when I’m seeking coaching for myself, I (like my clients) want the revelation that will unlock their climbing. It’s like we are searching for an epiphany about ourselves, something we have overlooked or simply haven’t grasped well. Over time what I have learned is that there is no quick fix, magic revelation, or technique that will propel someone forward. It’s usually the little things that can add up to a breakthrough. Some of the biggest gains can be had after focusing on the little things, a little over time.
When I leave a prescription for someone that doesn’t feel magnitudes in volume or depth, I worry they won’t appreciate what they are about to learn. This doesn’t often apply to a beginner who has a lesson at every turn, but for the person who is experienced and been climbing for a long time, it’s hard to imagine that you need to go back to fundamentals.
Revisiting fundamentals became clear to me some years ago when I was teaching a Climb Like a Girl clinic for the Red Rock Rendezvous (I won’t be there this year unless I’ve hindered my chance to participate in US Nationals for Sport Climbing). I usually do the clinic on this 100′ slab climb called Ultraman. It’s an amazing climb and unfortunately, it has a powerful start for a slab climb…oh and it’s mega run out in places. But, let’s keep focus on the technique part of that climb.
Some years ago, I was teaching slab climbing on this route. It was an all day clinic for both days of the event. Then, they changed it such that I was teaching 4 clinics on that route over the course of the weekend. My initial thought was “how boring” but then I realized, after spending all of that time focused on footwork that my footwork after the clinic was way more effective than I had realized prior. This experience was transformative in the way I think about fundamentals in climbing today.
I firmly believe no matter how experienced and proficient you think you are in climbing, there is always room to improve–layers to peel back and explore or reconsider. Spend some time working on fundamentals and experience immediate shifts in your climbing. Gradually, the shifts should translate into big gains like actualizing new grades, new strengths, or new efficiencies.
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