7 Tactics to Master Climbing Skills

Climbing Memory is the ability to store and recall information about a movement. Climbing memory involves learning and retaining physical skills. Recognizing, naming movements and coaching techniques can accelerate the memory and retention process.

Short-term memory is temporary, say about 20-30 seconds that is unless we work on retaining information through repetition and rehearsal. Its capacity is also limited. According to neuroscientists, we can keep 7 items or chunks of information plus or minus 2. In contrast, our long-term capacity to remember seems to be unlimited in amount and duration.

Climbing Memory: Training Tips
Principles for learning motor skills are based in psychology and applied to movements used in performance. The following techniques can facilitate climbing skill memory and retention:

1. Make an effort to learn skills correctly the first time. Initial learning is most impressionable. You should pay extra attention in the early stages of learning a new movement. A climbing movement skill learned incorrectly is often difficult to re-pattern after neurological pathways are established. The more ingrained the motor program becomes, the more difficult it is for you to change or correct that pattern.

2. Learn skill rhythms first, then refine the movements. Climbers can learn and recall rhythmic movements more quickly than isolated movements, just as rhymes are more readily remembered in verbal learning. For example, practicing a complex movement involving pulling, knee dropping and reaching for a high hold, is more effective than doing pull-ups or drop knees in isolation outside of the climbing context.

3. Chunk movements. Movements can be learned and processed if they are “chunked” or grouped into larger movement sequences. This grouping increases a climber capacity to learn and perform climbing skills. Break skills down only as much as is necessary (crimping, pinching, locking off, stepping up etc).

4. Make new skills meaningful. Find a real route or climb at the gym or outside where new skills can be used, so that you understand what the skill requires, and why it is executed that way. This will allow you to explicitly see how a skill applies to sports performance.

5. Associate new skills and concepts with well-learned skills. climbers learn new skills more quickly if key movement concepts are relevant to them. Knowing a climber previous experience is helpful for creating associations. Learning to make an awkward movement by itself won’t be as interesting as if that movement was the crux of the route you are projecting to climb.

6. Recognize specific cues or concepts that require your full attention. Intention to remember alerts a climber to important aspects of a skill or situation.

7. Overlearn climbing skills to correct errors. Over-learning means practicing movements beyond what was necessary to learn them. It is effective when incorrect movement patterns are ingrained. You may be happy completing a boulder problem or a route, but your body will learn more if you repeat that route few times. This will allow your body to find more efficient ways to make the same sequence.

Leaning to climb efficiency goes beyond working on your muscles. You don’t need a climbing coach to improve your climbing, but having a training program will speed up the process while cutting down the guesswork. Click here to check out a collection of self-paced climbing programs you can try on any gym.