Coaching Climbing a Change in the way I think

I’ve been coaching climbing for nearly 5 years and it’s been awesome, something I have really loved and still love. It’s been brilliant to learn from a top coach and understand his way of thinking. Thanks Simon. It really shaped the decisions I made for my career, the degree I choose and what I did whist I was at uni.

It was interesting that throughout my degree I looked at coaching science and the aspects that effect the learning of performers. I always in my assessments or discussions related what I was learning back to my own coaching. When i was coaching I always thought about the ways I could implement them but I never had the courage to just try putting the  theories in to practices.

Now working at the university I support lectures who are instilling these ideas in to the minds of the coaches of the future. It was one lecture I supported of Luke’s where I recorded coaching sessions where the coaches where being asked to implement principles in the safe environment. Luke and I discussed the principles in an open way it really inspired me to try it. That evening I did, I only used questions when giving feedback prying the answers out the climbers in an effort to make the practice more purposeful. I obviously had some of the challenges that you would expect, like the vague answers, but I stoped that with most of the guys by explaining the rational behind my reasoning. I was highly impressed at the detail they pulled out on reflecting on the own climbing, the impact it made spoke volumes.

I went home and I reflected, I began thinking, its so easy to think that what one sport does can not be copied in to another. My main thinking about this is because you can’t take elements from a team sport and apply them to an individual sport. Now as I type it seems so obvious and I defiantly knew I could take lessons from other coaches and apply it to my own coaching but I was thinking to far in to what bits to take. Of course the sessions would not cross over but the way I act and the way in which I talk about the sport can be used and have a real impact.

I think for me the biggest change is to look at successful coaches and understand why what they do works and how it can help me. My other move mental comes across as a sweeping statement but its more an observation and a need for my self to change my mind set rather than any thing else. Climbing needs and has a large strength and conditioning that needs to be taped into rather than thinking about coaching it like you would a team sport.

At the moment I imagine my coaching to take the shape that you would imagine a football coach to take, when I should be looking at it like a strength and conditioning coach. In the similar way to which a gymnastic coach works. Ok we do not have closed routines but you can break down climbing into a number of moves that are repeated on any route but each with subtle changes but the basic essence of the move is the same. An example of this is the rock over, the basic movement is the same the differences come as the hold changes or it gets higher or further away.

This is something that I know a lot of people have said with out saying it. Especially when I think back to the coaching courses that I have been on. This I know is nothing ground breaking it has just refreshed the way I think about coaching and how I can get the best out of the guys I am working with.

One real big message here is that both the success I had with my climbers and myself came from meaningful reflection. It is hugely important to reflect as this makes your practice purposeful, this fundamental to improving the speed of development. My best advice to anyone reflect and see the effect it has.