Thursday, 23 April 2009


This is the future of Scottish Climbing!!! YEAH!!!

Climbing style and technique.

As a climber you will need to constantly focus on improving your climbing style and technique. This will help you to move more efficiently whilst climbing, saving you huge amounts of energy, resulting in you being able to send those harder routes!

This can be worked every time you climb by trying to move as smoothly and as fluidly as possible. Focus on shifting as much bodyweight down onto your feet by keeping your arms straight and sinking your weight down onto your lower body. Gain extra reach by climbing side-on and rotating shoulders, not by locking off with your arms!

Watch climbers with good technique climb and learn from how they climb certain moves. Try and copy what these climbers are doing. Don’t get lazy and fall into bad habits, you need to ingrain good technique every time you climb. Climbing outside and on as many different rock types as possible will also do wonders for your climbing technique!


Warming Up

Hi guys, Recently I have been very impressed to see that many of the BRYCS kids have been making the effort to come in and put some additional training in away from the club. This is awsome, as climbing more than 1 day a week is only gonna help your over all development as climbers. Just thought I would use this forum to offer some basic tips on training that might help you on your way to rock stardom.


This is the single most important thing to get right with your training, as failure to do it correctly may result in poor performance, longer recovery time between sessions or even worse injury! Remember kiddies if you can touch your toes, how are you gonna tie your rock boots up? Just ask Billy boy, he has been forced to climb in slippers for years coz he didn't stretch as kiddie!

Warming up is not something you should rush, it takes me between 25 and 30 minutes to warm up properly before I train. I ease my self in gently and concentrate on slowly getting my body and brain prepared for what it is going to be doing when I climb. Coming in and jumping straight on to a steep boulder is a bad plan of action and may result in your head exploding (OK that's a bit of an fib, but it could result in strained fingers or other climbing related injuries).

Three important stages of warming up:
1. Cardio Vascular- Before you do anything, you have to raise your heart rate. It is important that you get the blood pumping round you muscles and also warm up your body. You don't have to run a half marathon, but running round the arena a few times or running up and down the stairs a few times would be a good idea.

2. Climbing Specific- This stage should involve super easy climbing and it serves the purpose of warming up all of the exact climbing muscles you are gonna be using. It also gets your brain working and ready to climb. The key is to ensure that the climbing you do here is super EASY. Traversing the bottom of the lead or top rope wall is a perfect way to do this. Another good tip is to concentrate on your technique and footwork during this stage. Thinking hard about transferring your weight over footholds and being very precise with your feet. If you start a session concentrating on climbing well, then you are more likely to continue this throughout the rest of your session.

3. Flexibility - Stretching and basic mobility exercises are the third and final part of the 3 main warm up stages. You all know lots of good climbing related stretches. Think about every different part of your body you use to climb and do an exercise for it. If you are stretching, try to hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds. It is also worth including some mobility exercises like arm swings, leg kicks, jumping and hopping on the spot etc. These will help warm up your joints and muscles through a full range of movements. Remember guys flexibility is a huge part of being a top climber, so stretching is an important part of your training!

These stages are written in this order for a reason. You should try and avoid stretching or working flexibility before you have raised your heart rate or carried out some easy climbing. Stretching when your muscles/joints are still cold increases chance of hurting yourself when you are doing it. Finally, you have to note that the warm up doesn't stop there! you have to then gradually ease yourself into routes or bouldering. Don't just jump straight on a 7a or a grade 6 boulder problem. Start on a 4+ then work up to your 7a attempt.

WARMING DOWN is just as important as warming up, but it doesn't take quite as long. I spend 5 minutes doing easy boulder problems, traversing or very easy routes. I then finish off carrying out the same stretching routine I carried out for the warm up. Making the effort to warm down will help your body wind down after a session and will speed up the time it takes your muscles to recover after a session.

Hope this helps and keep up the hard work guys!


The first and must important part of achieving good climbing technique is learning to use our feet effectively. We hear lots of people saying certain climbers have good footwork, but what does it actually mean?

In my opinion the two most important factors of good footwork are;
1.) Being able to place your feet quickly and precisely.
2.) Being able to transfer your weight over your feet.

1.) Be quick and precise:
When we are placing our feet we should be aiming to use the front of our rock boot as much as possible. This means the inside edge, outside edge and the front point! This allows us to be precise with our foot placements when standing on smaller holds, allows us to twist and turn when climbing by simply pivoting on our feet, and minimises the chance of our feet slipping off.
Using this part of our feet also allows us to gain more force and height from the foot placement. Think about how your foot works when jumping, you flex your feet and push off from your toes. Its the same principle when flexing your foot to stretch for a distant climbing hold or flexing your foot when powering up for that dyno! Obviously, we also have to learn when it is appropriate to heel hook or toe hook (usually of very steep ground), but the majority of foot placements should be made as above.

How do we improve this? It may sound simple, but looking at your feet when you place them helps. Make a conscious effort to look at the foot hold, and place your foot exactly where you are looking. If you are clumping around with your feet, banging them off the wall each time you place them or hoping about on a foot hold to readjust, you are wasting valuable energy when you climb. The easiest way I have found to practise this is to think really hard about it when you are climbing easy warm up climbs, slow down and really concentrate on placing your feet quietly in control. As you improve at this, begin to attempt climbing these routes quicker, but still be precise and controlled with your feet placements. Over time this will improve your footwork on all of your climbs. Another training tip I have for improving this is to attempt climbing boulder problems in the arena using features only for feet. This will help you learn how to trust standing on small holds, it will help you improve your judgement with foothold selection and it will also help build up core strength as keeping your feet on small holds when climbing steeper problems requires a lot of body tension!.

2.) Transferring your weight over your feet:
Spend time during your next session watching a really good climber on a route up our main lead wall. As they move up the wall you will see them transfer their body from side to side or twist their whole body each time they reach for a hold! The climber is doing this so that they can move their weight over the foot that they are pushing off, thus moving in the most efficient way. If your weight is over your foot when you push up on it, you use far less pulling energy in your arms! A really good climber to observe doing this is Nat Berry, as she is phenomenal at this technique in climbing. Her amazing level of flexibility in her hips, allows her to transfer her weight over any foothold regardless of how awkwardly placed they are!

How do we improve this? This is a really important skill to master, as the whole point of good technique is 'minimising the amount of energy used in our arms' ! The less energy we use in our arms, the longer we can climb on a route before we get tired. Learning to transfer our weight over our feet makes us more efficient at how we use our feet and reduces the strain on our arms, thus making us more technical climbers.
The best way I have found to practise this technique is to spend time on the 'Speed Wall' slab area. Practice climbing the routes with one hand, but really concentrate on getting the upward motion from your legs!. If you have to pull with your hand to make a move, stop and think about your feet and body position, then try again. Once you have mastered this, make things harder for yourself by attempting these climbs with no hands. You can place your hands flat against the wall, but you are not allowed to touch any of the holds. It is impossible to achieve this without transferring your weight over your feet!

Finally start experimenting with how we can use twisting to help us transfer our weight over our feet. Again use the 'Speed Wall' slab area. Force yourself to only use the outside edge of your climbing shoe, in order to do this you will have to twist your whole body round each time you stand up on a foot. An easy way to think about it is to say to yourself - 'if I am standing up on my right foot I have to twist to face left, if i am standing up on my left foot I have to twist to face the right'!

Spend a bit of time each session concentrating on practising good footwork and you will become very good at using your feet. Remember, there is more to being good at climbing than just getting fitter and stronger! If we don't move well when we are climbing we are not going to climb to our full potential!

Training Article - Top Tips for Competition Day by Neil McGeachy

Competing to your full potential in the Youth Climbing Series is something that is important to all of you guys. You have all put in alot of work with your climbing training and are now super fit and climbing exceptionally well. I would just like to offer a few tips on how to approach competition day, which will help you maximise your chances of performing to your full potential.

Warming Up & Staying Warm-
You should all know how important it is to warm up properly by now. However, a common mistake people make in competitions is to warm up at the start of the day and forget about it for the rest of the competition. Competing in the YCS invloves a long day with only a few climbs. If you warm up in the morning and then dont climb for 60minutes waiting for others to do their routes, you are no longer properly warm. Think about this while you are sitting about waiting for your shot. Continually do lots of stretching and small amounts of climbing to keep yourself topped up and ready to go. Dont over do the climbing though as you dont want to tire yourself out. An easy grade boulder problem or an easy traverse every 10 minutes or so is enough.

Route Reading -
Planning how you are going to climb a route or a boulder problem before you begin is extremely important. Look at each climb and try and work out where the hard move is going to be, where the rests are and if there are any hidden hand or footholds that will be hard to see when you are climbing. This is all information that will help you climb the route well when it is your turn. As you get more experienced at this, start trying to work out the hand sequencies of climbs. Working out, which hand goes where helps you get it right first time and cuts back on wasting energy correcting mistakes you make on the climb.

Watch Other Climbers -
Every route is demonstrated before you climb them. This is done for a reason, it is to show you how best to approach the route. If you are a smart competitor, you pay very close attention to these demonstrations as they should give you valuable tips, such as rest points, hard moves, hand sequences etc. Watching the demo's closely is important, but it does not stop there! It is really important to watch all of the other competitors closely also! Through doing this we can learn from the mistakes others make and also from the things they get right. It is also a great opportunity to see where other climbers fall off and therefore, you will know what point you need to try and beat.

Give it 100% -
As we are always telling you guys it is important to stay calm when you climb and maintain good climbing form throughout. However, there will be a point on a climb when it becomes apparent you are going to fall off. When this happens, dont just give in! Think about how the points work for scoring. You get a score for holding a hold, an extra point for reaching past a hold and another point for touching the next hold! If you are falling off, try your best to reach passed the hold you are on. Likewise, if you are stuck on a hold and can't reach the next one, try jumping for it as touching the hold will get you more points. The scores at YCS's are always close, so reaching passed a hold or touching the next one, could be the difference between winning and finishing second!

Stay fueled -
As I stated earlier, comps are always long days. We need to think about giving our bodies the fuel it needs to perform throughout the day. It is a good idea to bring lots of small handy snacks, to keep your energy levels tooped up. Fruit bars, Cereal bars, fruit, dried fruit, non salted nuts, fruit juice etc are all great ways of keeping energy levels topped up throughout the day. Another way of making sure you have enough energy is to eat properly before the event. Dont rush out in the morning and forget about breakfast, get up 10 minutes earlier and make sure you eat properly before leaving for the comp.

Stay Hydrated -
If we dont have enough water in our bodies, we dont perform to our full potential. Being properly hydrated also reduces the chances of picking up injuries also. Therefore it makes sense to drink water before competitions and continue to top up water levels throughout the day. Bring a sports style water bottle and keep it with you, so that you can sip at it throughout the day.

Relax and have FUN -
You are all very talented young climbers and all have the potential to do well in the YCS. Be confident on the day and approach every route with the attitude that you have the ability to climb it. If you believe you are capable of achieving something, you are more likely to do it! Before you start a route, relax, take few deep breaths and think about what you are going to do and how cool it will be when you are on the final hold. You are all very good climbers and you have no reason to be scared of any climb!