This Winter’s Crucible is about to start and new for this season we are adding a spicy new twist. Each round will have a theme that’s going to run throughout at least half the blocs. The aim of this is to firstly to keep the setting varied and challenges new and fresh each round. Secondly and more importantly to allow your climbing to be challenged in different ways each month giving you the opportunity to hone your skills and improve your climbing. As we do this though we’re also going to publish training articles, so not only do you get the joys of a competition to look forward too. You also get something more structured that you can back and train with and hopefully make some improvements in your climbing.
Round 1 – Footwork
The first round is simple, we’re going back to basics. We’re going to be attacking your foot work. How you might ask, well we’ll be using some bad (and we mean bad!) foot holds and to do this we’ve just put in an order for plenty of horrible little screw ons and bolt on dabs.
Quite often when blocs or routes get harder the moves themselves are no different, the footholds just get worse. The test becomes more about the climber’s ability to place their feet with greater accuracy and precision and then have the trust in these holds to apply the correct amount of force to make them stick! Yes, brute force and ignorance will get you through a lot of blocs but once you start reaching your level, you’ll find you start to blow flashes due to missing a foot placement or even worse dropping a foot swap!
The good news is this can be rectified. Most if not all top climbers have immaculate foot work. By this we mean they put the correct part of there foot on to the correct part of the hold first time, all the time. No scuffs down the wall and no bouncing their foot around testing its security. They only have these skills because they have practised drills over a long period of time. You too can have these attributes by simply acknowledging that we all need to focus on this, spend time drilling it and concentrating on good form through out your sessions.
One of the most basic ways to do this is as you are warming up. Start on the traverse wall or an easy circuit and climb in a relaxed manner. This will allow you to slow down and attempt to make each foot placement as deliberately and accurately as possible. After a few minutes start using smaller and smaller foot holds until you have it nailed; you can then progress your warm up by using a steeper section of wall, probably still on jugs and maintaining your focus on moving well with a high accuracy foot placement rate.
Know at the start of your session you will miss a few. That’s normal, its why we need to drill this as part of our warm ups – it helps get the cobwebs out of our receptors, these tell our brains were our toes actually are. Do this and very quickly you will improve. If like many you go straight into the competition this cobweb blowing out will be happening on blocs you really care about. The outcome could be have disastrous consequences and you might drop an easy warm up bloc due to a silly foot error.
In any professional sports you’ll see elite level athletes practising elements of their sport pre match, elements so basic they must have done them thousands if not millions of times. They do this to drill their receptors and blow the proverbial cobwebs out so that once the game commences, they’re ready. Think how many times you’ve seen Murry practising to serve before a Wimbledon match, Manchester United stars complete hundreds of 10yrd passes before any match, likewise the Welsh ruby squad make plenty of simple passes before any crunch match. This is the sort of thing we’re talking about replicating into our climbing drills.
If we start doing the same with our climbing, if we start making it our aim to improve by putting this sort of thing into practice we will soon reap the benefits.
And if you don’t …. Well the Winter Crucible is going to find you out!