As a coach I enjoy the four-minute work period followed by four minute rest period structure of the “on-sight” format competitions used in the ABS; it’s demanding, it favors climbers who are well trained, and the line of demarcation between the climbers who are prepared for this format and those who aren’t is well defined. I also like it because it provides a good program design exercise, how often do we get the chance to create training programs for such a specific, well-structured task in climbing? Read the rest of this entry »
Last fall, after a long absence, I started coaching competitive youth climbers again. It’s exciting to see how youth competitions have developed in the past 14 years; the number of competitors is fairly large, as is the number of coaches. I’d guess that preparing youth for competitions is probably the largest source of coaching revenue in the US, and correspondingly it’s a task that a great number of coaching hours are spent on. Yet public discussions, and published material regarding youth competitions are almost non-existent. So, I think it would be great to start a discussion on how we prepare young athletes for bouldering competitions. Read the rest of this entry »
I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about climbing performance, movement analysis, and program design for climbing, etc; but none of it means a dam thing if we don’t tie in properly; or if the pads aren’t placed correctly.
I’ve been thinking about safety because a friend had a terrible accident in a gym two weeks ago. It appears that the cause of the accident is that he did not tie in.
As a climber of over 30 years, accidents are not new to me, and I have lost a few friends along the way. When I was 16 an older friend and mentor died soloing Ice on Mt. Washington. A few years later Kevin Bein the great Gunkie climbing died when a rappel anchor pulled on him. When I was about 21 in a short period of time I saw or heard about a number of accidents that occurred due to tie-in errors. I counted ten people I knew, all with more than 10 years climbing experience that did not tie in at all, or who did not tie in properly. In response, a friend suggested that everyone check their knot three times prior to climbing, in this order:
1- Tie in, then check your knot.
2- Put on climbing shoes, then check your knot.
3- Step up to the route, then check your knot.
(being a bit of a chicken I also tend to check my knot before taking, or lowering off.)
When discussing these accidents and near accidents it became clear that in many cases the climber was distracted by something while tying in. Someone asked them a question, or handed them something. So its important to not hand a climber anything, or do anything that can drawn their attention away from tying their knot.
Also, we are all in it together, it is the belayer’s job to check the climber’s knot and the climber’s job to check the device. No matter how much experience we have, no matter how many climbs we do per year, we need to always do this one simple and mundane thing that can prevent life changing horrors from occurring. The closest I ever came to a horrible accident was when I took a lead fall, and my belayer’s beiner was not locked. The gate opened, the device slipped out, but was caught on the notch in the nose of the beiner. I missed a 40 foot ground fall onto talus by millimeters. It was just dumb luck that I didn’t die that day.
In the gym sprains, dislocations and broken bones happen on a regular basis. The main factor? Missing or hitting the very edge of a bouldering pad. It only takes a few second to check the pads and make adjustments. Yet it’s so easy to just climb and not deal with it.
Whatever it takes find a way to remind yourself to do a proper safety check. Among a certain set of climbers I used to hear the phrase “Smoke pot? Check your knot!”
Talking to my friend Drew on the phone the other day he mentioned that he and his daughter Mason came up with this new one:
“Check your knot twice, then the device.” (TM Mason Bedford)
Drew had another more colorful one:
“Check yer F***’n knot or I’ll kick your A**!”
What ever works, please, please, please just do it.
What would be a good phrase to use to remind boulderers to check pad placement prior to climbing?
In this post I want to flesh out some of the details of body tension that I have not described yet, I also want to take a stab at defining the sub categories of body tension and I hope to do this through analyzing specific moments in the video of Dave Graham on the Island (V15) that I mentioned in an earlier post. Read the rest of this entry »
Sorry that I have been silent lately. Going into the Thanks Giving holiday I got really disorganized and stopped making time to blog. Anyway lets get back to body tension. This is a video I made that provides a number of basic joint actions and the vocabulary used to describe them. I am putting this up now because I think it will make understanding the video analysis of body tension a lot easier.
Some may ask why we need to know and use such a specialized language. The first answer is because it’s far easier than the alternative in which people just make up their own terms and there is no precise and universal way to talk about body movement. Second this language is very helpful in a variety of settings such as when talking to sports doctors concerning injuries or movement problems. If you can describe what causes pain in these terms it will be easier for a professional to understand what you are telling them. Finally, correctly understanding and labeling movement is the way we accurately identify what muscles contribute to that movement which is necessary for a number of reasons including movement analysis and the development of conditioning programs.
Concerning further posts on body tension I am taking g’s suggestion of sub categories seriously and I think its possible to describe perhaps three subcategories so I am working on these descriptions and hope to have them completed soon.
After describing the forces at work on hand and footholds as well as the function of kinetic chains we can now see how these features are at work in body tension. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the second post in which I lay the ground work for a full understanding of body tension. The next post will tie everything together.
The concept of Kinetic Chains is fairly important to climbing, but its not often discussed among climbers. In simple terms there are two types of kinetic chains, open and closed. Open kinetic chains describe movement situations in which Read the rest of this entry »
I have not posted on the blog in the past two weeks because I have been doing a lot of study / writing about body tension, as well as coaching and course setting which has been a lot of fun. Anyway, I think I have come up with a good mechanical description of what body tension is; but this description is getting long and it includes several concepts not commonly discussed in climbing circles so I need to lay some groundwork prior to getting down to brass tacks. I am dividing my lengthy description into several posts. The first two posts provide the background for the later posts. If I can get the writing done I hope to have all the posts up by early next week. Read the rest of this entry »
I am so glad that JF, the author of the Routecrafter blog, posted in the comments on this blog because that allowed me to find his blog. I really enjoy his thoughtful analysis of the topics he writes about. I wish there were more blogs like it. Here is a link to a post from Oct. 8 that I just saw. He picks up the discussion we’ve been having here and addresses it from a course setters perspective. I think this would be a good read for anyone who competes. Enjoy.
Things have been very busy so I have not had much time to dedicate to writing this week so this can hardly be considered a complete post (sorry!). Anyway I think a number of the comments on the previous post described salient features of body tension, and got at how and why body tension is difficult to define. For my part, I want to take a step back and start with three important basic points: Read the rest of this entry »