My best climbing teacher is my climbing partner--here's why
If you’re like me, you’re willing to try just about anything to climb better (as long as it doesn’t involve any actual hard work or exercise 😊)
There are tons of workouts out there to help build strength for climbing and plenty more drills you can do to learn better technique. But I have found that one often overlooked key to improving your climbing is right in front of you – your best climbing partner!
Think about it, whether it’s intentionally observing and learning their beta or borrowing some of their psych, your climbing pals are a great source of climbing education! Learning from my partners is my favorite way to continue to learn and improve my own climbing.
And as a coach of youth athletes and Movement's Director of Youth Teams (check out our kids programs by going to your gym page, then click Climbing>>Youth Programs), I require my climbers to sit and watch their teammates on the wall while they rest or wait their turn and here are three reasons why:
You'll learn new beta
The first and most obvious benefit of climbing with a partner is that you get to watch their beta. When you’re stuck on a move it’s easy to get “tunnel vision” and focus only on the one specific way you know to move past it. Watching someone else climb opens your mind to other beta options you hadn’t considered.
Snagging a heel hook to pull through the crux may never have crossed your mind but may be second nature to your climbing buddy! At 5’2”, I used to get discouraged watching my partners easily reach moves that I had to jump to, however, I have come to appreciate learning how different climbers with different beta can cruise the same boulder. It makes me a better coach and a more intuitive climber.
You'll notice intricate body positioning
You know what else you can learn from watching your best climbing buds? Intricate body positioning.
Think of those times when you’re in the gym, there are new climbs up, and all the regulars are there to get in on the fresh set goodness. As everyone takes their turn, you may notice one climber has their hips super close to the wall with fairly straight arms. Another climber might be further from the wall with bent arms.
Once you start noticing these small shifts in body positioning in others, the easier it is to think of what your own body position could and should look like on the wall. The smallest tweaks in your climbing – or “micro betas” – are sometimes the very key to unlocking the crux on a route.
Another great way to help your climbing progression and unlock micro beta is to ask your partner to film you on the wall. You’ll be able to analyze your body position and also track your progress over time!
You'll get stoked!
It can be easy to walk away from a climb that is proving challenging for you - whether it is simply physically taxing or is one of those climbs that just gets under your skin! I’ve noticed that when I climb with others, I stick around on climbs longer than I might have if I was alone.
For example, you may end up on a route that looked fun to your partner but is something you’d rather walk away from (or run away from 😊). However, you stick with it because they’re psyched and you want to be a good, supportive climbing partner. I’ve been in this situation many times and what’s great is that I usually end up enjoying the route and sometimes even sending it!
It is also impossible to deny that psych is absolutely contagious – having someone there to work a route with you and cheer you on just makes the process so much more enjoyable. Plus, sometimes seeing someone do a climb that’s been challenging you ignites just the fire you need to get the send! The buzz of trying hard with friends in the gym is truly unlike no other.
Cheers to all the great climbing partners out there – and to meeting new ones along the way! Happy sending!
Written by Marisa Romero, Director of Youth Teams. For more info about our youth climbing teams, youth camps and other youth climbing programs, head to your gym's website. From the menu, click on the Climbing tab and look for Youth Programs.