6 Climbing Lessons I Learned from Watching Competition Climbing (Even Though I Don't Compete)
Once I got into climbing, I started watching competitions. Well, I guess not all comps - specifically, the IFSC's (IFSC stands for International Federation of Sport Climbing) bouldering finals competitions. And while I don't climb in comps, even casually, I have learned a lot of great lessons and I recommend more climbers watch comps.6 Climbing Lessons I've Learned - listening to the commentators is key to these lessons but you can see it even with the audio off.
First step? Look at the beta (sequencing). All the athletes spend a few minutes looking at the climbs before they even touch the wall. They talk to each other about the beta and work through the moves before getting on. It saves them energy on the wall and makes sure they know where all the holds are.
Lesson learned - Sequence. Always. You gain a lot and lose nothing.
Next - Get on it. This is the thing about competitions - you have to get on all different styles even if you don't like it. Athletes get on slabs, dynos, slopers, overhangs. Everything. And they give every single one an honest go. And it makes them even better climbers. They are well-rounded and have to work through their weaknesses.
Lesson learned - Commit to moves and get on everything. If you are going to try it - give it an honest go and try more than once even if you fall the first move.
Rest. Oh my goodness, do the athletes rest. You watch them run down the clock instead of throwing themselves at the wall again and again. But climbing is physical and we only have so much power. So they know they need to rest in order to give the problem a solid go. Otherwise, they are just going to keep jumping on and falling off.
Lesson learned - Give yourself time between attempts. It will make your next attempt better and you are not on a timer.
Try something new. It's really hard to get out of your head when you are on the wall. But generally, you see athletes trying slightly new things if they are really not getting it. They also know that beta will be different for everyone. It doesn't mean you didn't get it just because you didn't do what the intended beta was so don't let people tell you it doesn't count or your beta isn't valid.
Lesson learned - Adjust and try a different beta. There is no wrong way to do it as long as you don't hurt yourself.
Deal with failure. If you're competing, you don't just get to fall and blame it on a high gravity day. Athletes really have to think about body positioning, hand, and foot placement, their mental state and figure out why they fell so they can improve.
Lesson learned - It is fine to fail. But you won't get better unless you really think about what you did and how you can change your beta (mentally or physically) to get on it next time.
Support each other. At the end of the day, the athletes are competing against each other for a limited number of podium spots so one person's achievement literally takes away another person's potential win. And while there definitely is a competitive spirit, at the end of the day, they seem to all support each other. And that reminds me of why I love to climb - I feel supported by almost everyone and I try to support everyone.
Lesson learned - Support your other climbers. Climbing may not be a team sport but one reason most people love it is because of how great other climbers can be.
But really, the main reason I watch these comps? It gets me psyched. I love watching people climb. It reminds me of climbs I have struggled through and the feeling when I get that move. It reminds me that there are times when I will have bad days and there are days when I will crush it. It reminds me of the community who get excited for each other. It really just inspires me to climb and try - it reminds me of why I love to climb. So if you need a lesson from this - I should climb because I love it.
And while you watch, maybe you'll get psyched to do a comp too! Most citizen comps have everywhere from beginner to professional levels and it is a great way to connect with other climbers, try out new stuff and feel the energy of the gym!