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ercmilla


Feb 29, 2012, 2:35 PM
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Technique Application
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I have been climbing for roughly 3 weeks now and am starting to feel my muscles reacting well to this new stimulus. It is easier to climb the 5.9s I was having trouble on during my first week. Hell, even the 5.10 I climb is starting to be doable without breaks. Bottom line: my strength and endurance is coming along just fine, but my technique needs serious work.

Recently, I bought the book Self Coached Climber (aka the Bible for noobs). I have been practicing the activities the author sets forth (i.e. silent foot, pivoting, flaggin, etc.). There seems to be one serious gap in the book, however. After reading it, I don't know when to use the aforementioned techniques. For instance, I know what a drop knee does to your center of gravity and how to do it, but I don't know when to use it. I don't know what situations call for drop knees. The "Drop Knee" example isn't special. I have trouble applying all the activities. Another example would be general footwork. I know how to pivot - I know how to backstep - I know how it affects my center of gravity. However, I don't know what situation makes backstepping better than, say, "frog position".

Would you experienced folks mind helping me with my problems here? I'd greatly appreciate it.


Secondly, I climb at Stone Summit if any experienced climbers want to trade belaying for some coaching.


jt512


Feb 29, 2012, 3:42 PM
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ercmilla wrote:
I have been climbing for roughly 3 weeks now and am starting to feel my muscles reacting well to this new stimulus. It is easier to climb the 5.9s I was having trouble on during my first week. Hell, even the 5.10 I climb is starting to be doable without breaks. Bottom line: my strength and endurance is coming along just fine, but my technique needs serious work.

Recently, I bought the book Self Coached Climber (aka the Bible for noobs). I have been practicing the activities the author sets forth (i.e. silent foot, pivoting, flaggin, etc.). There seems to be one serious gap in the book, however. After reading it, I don't know when to use the aforementioned techniques. For instance, I know what a drop knee does to your center of gravity and how to do it, but I don't know when to use it. I don't know what situations call for drop knees. The "Drop Knee" example isn't special. I have trouble applying all the activities. Another example would be general footwork. I know how to pivot - I know how to backstep - I know how it affects my center of gravity. However, I don't know what situation makes backstepping better than, say, "frog position".

Would you experienced folks mind helping me with my problems here? I'd greatly appreciate it.

Pick routes that are dead easy for you, and force yourself to use new techniques on them. For instance, pick an easy route and try to do every move with a drop knee. Then, repeat the route, trying to do every move with a backstep flag. Etc. Eventually you'll start to recognize patterns, and you'll begin to learn what works in what situations.

Jay


ercmilla


Feb 29, 2012, 5:28 PM
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Sounds like great advice. I'll get on the 5.6 block of walls and try to do what you recommended. I'll follow up once I've done it a few times.


GeckoBat


Feb 29, 2012, 6:05 PM
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Jay, I recently picked up SCC and I'm enjoying the book but most importantly, the dvd. Being that I'm a "visual" learner, the concepts in the book are easier for me to apply when I see the video clips. Definitely a great addition to my rock climbing library.

Great advice to go back to the wall and apply them on easier routes!


rsd212


Mar 1, 2012, 9:51 AM
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I tend to take a different approach than jt512...instead of forcing movements on a route, I pick something thats just above my warmup range and keep conscious that no individual move should be that difficult. If I find myself making a desperate move, I can assume my technique isnt optimal. From there you can back off a bit and work the problem until the whole climb flows nicely. The advantage of "working" an easy route is you wont burn out as quick on the moves and can spend more time tweaking your technique.


ercmilla


Mar 1, 2012, 10:14 AM
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That is an approach I have been taking. However, I constantly meet difficult areas on the 5.8-5.9 walls I climb. Sometimes I feel like I'm just muscling my way through it. Sometimes I'm like "screw it" and pull up with my arms to get to the next holds.


rsd212


Mar 1, 2012, 10:36 AM
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Ha, thats exactly the instinct you need to fight :) When teaching beginners we would often do a demonstration where we'd climb a 5.6 without ever bending our elbows. This was to prove to everyone that its not about brute strength, and you can do moves without any real effort if you find a way to push with your legs.

Of course, climbing near your limit you're not always going to find the optimal beta...sometimes a bit of grunt is whats needed to get by...


jt512


Mar 1, 2012, 12:12 PM
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rsd212 wrote:
I tend to take a different approach than jt512...instead of forcing movements on a route, I pick something thats just above my warmup range and keep conscious that no individual move should be that difficult. If I find myself making a desperate move, I can assume my technique isnt optimal. From there you can back off a bit and work the problem until the whole climb flows nicely. The advantage of "working" an easy route is you wont burn out as quick on the moves and can spend more time tweaking your technique.

This is not a way to learn new movement patterns. A new movement pattern will tend to feel wrong when it is right, just because it is new. The only way to learn when the new move is right is to force yourself to try it in different situations.

Jay


jamesnater


Mar 1, 2012, 2:17 PM
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jt512 wrote:
Pick routes that are dead easy for you, and force yourself to use new techniques on them. For instance, pick an easy route and try to do every move with a drop knee. Then, repeat the route, trying to do every move with a backstep flag. Etc. Eventually you'll start to recognize patterns, and you'll begin to learn what works in what situations.

Jay

Man, that advise is dead on! I've been doing this lately. You quickly learn what works best in each situation and what doesn't. It's seriously the most efficient way to learn new movements, in my opinion anyway...


Rmsyll2


Mar 1, 2012, 6:02 PM
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Drop-knee allows a higher reach with the hand on the same side. It requires a footing that you can turn your toe on. It is more that turning than actually dropping. Turning a hip in will also change how close to the wall you can be in a steep area. Frog might seem to be closer, but requires and allows shorter motions.

Flag a leg to counter-balance a long reach to the other direction. You will be on one foot and one hand, so both need to hold you until you get the next grip. It is not often available unless the area is very open.

Some use the term back-step for the obvious indication: one foot stems behind instead to the side. It also means to edge on the outside of the foot instead of the inside, and implies turning that hip in too. If there is not something behind you, and/or a foot placement to edge on, guess what.

You didn't mention Gaston, which means a side-pull outward instead of inward, with the thumb down, often also meaning both hands doing that instead of supporting vertically. The result is enough friction to hold you. A crack may allow that instead of lie-back, which is leaning to one side and pushing on your feet the other way. A Gaston position of one hand can work like a lie-back for that side while you work out something else on the other hand. The direction a flake or crack faces relative to where you have to be for footing suggests this tactic.

These and other particular moves will have more place, the more places you get yourself into. You can, as JayT suggests, make yourself become accustomed to the oddness before you need them. But until one of them saves your climb, you won't appreciate when to use it. If you have not been stopped, thinking there is nothing to do, you haven't yet found out that making a change, such as rotating a hip, or using a flake backwards or upside down as under-cling, or going to the side instead of up, is how you will be able to continue. That takes time, and is part of what the others have been doing for some years instead of weeks.

What's the rush? Is it the journey, or the moment of arrival, that's worth what it takes?

.


uni_jim


Mar 1, 2012, 7:10 PM
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ercmilla wrote:
I know what a ______ does to your center of gravity and how to do it, but I don't know when to use it. I have trouble applying all the activities.


Climb more. Get on routes that are challenging for you, project more, and ask the old guys questions about sequencing and body position. Don't ask the 16 year old gym rat for beta, he's 150lbs of contact strength. The old guys have been at it a while, aren't as strong as they were but still climb as hard as ever because they've figured out technique over the years. I've found that bouldering with the 40+ crowd does wonders for technique, while bouldering with the other young folk makes for good campusy fun.


ercmilla


Mar 1, 2012, 7:48 PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone!

I want to give everyone an update about how my training at the climbing gym went tonight.

I followed the advice above and went for an "easier" route (it was one of the 5.7+s I use for warming up). I felt like all the technique I have been watching and reading really clicked tonight. I was flagging and back stepping and using my center of gravity better. The 5.7s and 5.8s started to feel like cake after an hour or so. Then I went for it - a 60' 5.9+ that I hadn't tried every before. I made it up the very first try! I think ya'll call that flashing? I don't know but it felt good! I didn't expect to see the results so quickly. Honestly, I think I have just been studying climbing way too much the past few weeks.

What's the rush? I'm not sure, really. My personality I guess. I can get really obsessive about things and become average really quickly.

I'll keep everyone up-to-date as my technique progresses.


shotwell


Mar 3, 2012, 9:42 AM
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ercmilla wrote:
Thanks for the advice everyone!

I want to give everyone an update about how my training at the climbing gym went tonight.

I followed the advice above and went for an "easier" route (it was one of the 5.7+s I use for warming up). I felt like all the technique I have been watching and reading really clicked tonight. I was flagging and back stepping and using my center of gravity better. The 5.7s and 5.8s started to feel like cake after an hour or so. Then I went for it - a 60' 5.9+ that I hadn't tried every before. I made it up the very first try! I think ya'll call that flashing? I don't know but it felt good! I didn't expect to see the results so quickly. Honestly, I think I have just been studying climbing way too much the past few weeks.

What's the rush? I'm not sure, really. My personality I guess. I can get really obsessive about things and become average really quickly.

I'll keep everyone up-to-date as my technique progresses.

Just a quick note that a lot of people seem to miss. Continue experimenting. If you can do a move with a drop knee, try it with a simple backstep. Then a flag. Then from a frog. Find a heel hook. Dig for a toe hook. Eventually you'll realize that even the hardest moves can be done multiple ways. Just assuming that there is only one way to do certain moves is often wrong.

As you grow as a climber, you'll almost certainly find yourself constantly using one move. You like it, it tends to work, and feels easy. Resist this urge. You're probably losing efficiency by sticking to what you like.


brian_h


Jan 26, 2013, 10:39 AM
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shotwell wrote:
Just a quick note that a lot of people seem to miss. Continue experimenting. If you can do a move with a drop knee, try it with a simple backstep. Then a flag. Then from a frog. Find a heel hook. Dig for a toe hook. Eventually you'll realize that even the hardest moves can be done multiple ways. Just assuming that there is only one way to do certain moves is often wrong.

As you grow as a climber, you'll almost certainly find yourself constantly using one move. You like it, it tends to work, and feels easy. Resist this urge. You're probably losing efficiency by sticking to what you like.
I fell into this trap with the drop knee, actually. I realized one day that I was turning and twisting back and forth on sequences that didn't need nearly that much movement. I had become unaware of just how much it was slowing me down.

I agree with Jay about trying new things on easier routes. Working technique on easier climbs is like working out on muscle-specific weightlifting equipment. It's effective to work your skills individually as well as trying to put it all together on hard routes. That's a necessary training method but shouldn't be the only one.

And don't be discouraged that you don't have it dialed in after three weeks. Take your time and remember that climbing is supposed to be fun!


Syd


Jan 27, 2013, 8:06 PM
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ercmilla wrote:
After reading it, I don't know when to use the aforementioned techniques. .

I reckon it takes a few months before what to use when starts to become apparent. Some routes favour some moves, eg overhangs favour flagging and drop knee moves. Your body, strength and style also has an effect ... I used to favor flags over rock ons and my wife used to be the reverse but not so much now. Your strength plays a role ... eg, where more leg power in a flag to the side is required, rotating the foot to bring the inside thigh muscles into play gives more power. Even when you become expert, you will still project to find the best way to make various moves.


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