Beginner climbing short ropes at Alter Rock

New to indoor climbing? Tips on how to improve and have fun

Improving quickly – the key is repetition

You did your Beginners Course and now you are back for your first time climbing on your own with your partner. It’s going to be hard like anything new so perseverance is the game, don’t give up on your first go, it will get easier.

Short is sweet to start with

At Alter Rock I suggest you start on the short walls. This allows you to build confidence in yourself and your belayer. Being closer makes it easier to talk to each other and if things go wrong it’s not far to the floor.

Build on your confidence

In climbing confidence is a big factor. Once you have made it to the top of a route then repeat that route after a short rest and you should find it easier because you know you can climb it. Getting better is all about repeating what we are trying to get better at and the more times we repeat it the better we become.

Use Pyramid Training methods

Start with the easy climbs. Go from climb to climb doing all the grade 1’s then do all the grade 2’s. After doing the 2’s if you are feeling tired do the 1’s again. They should feel easier. You have just done Pyramid Training. If the 2’s were OK then do the 3’s and then come back down the way. Resting is important but you can do this when your partner climbs or when your change lines.

If you are trying something that is a bit too hard, then cheat and use a different colour hold. This is known as rainbowing the route just get to the top. Once you have rested then go back up and try it without the cheat. If you still use the cheat don’t worry come back on your next session and try again. Don’t forget, when you succeed, have a rest and do it again, it should be easier as you have the confidence from your successful attempt.

Easy routes are good for warming up

Every climbing session start with the easy routes, it’s a good warm up for body and mind and gets you switched onto climbing. It allows you to practice your techniques whilst in a comfortable position. Don’t forget you should be enjoying yourself. Once you hit that point where you have had enough or its all too much hard work, repeat all the routes you have just done as a warm down.

Expand your techniques

Alter Rock uses a mixture of setters so there is a mixture of styles. This allows you to experience a variety of climbing where you can learn new techniques to overcome the different problems. This will lay the ground work where you place your new learned techniques into your metaphorical rucksack ready to bring out and use when you need them. You will only learn these techniques by climbing often and they will only become instinctive by lots of repetition.

It helps to climb with an experienced climber, but if your mate is new to the activity then perhaps you should seek a coach to guide you through those first few weeks of climbing. We can recommend instructors for you, or you could enrol on one of our popular six week Learn To Climb (NICAS) courses.

In a nutshell

Keep repeating those easy routes, you will become fitter, stronger and more confident. As you progress you will improve your foot work, learn to relax, learn technique and above all have fun! Happy climbing.

Written by Garry Jackson

Motivation and a Positive Mental Attitude

This post is written by a guest this week, Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE and English Channel swimmer. We thought her thoughts about motivation for swimming are just as relevant to other sports such as climbing. Thanks to Dr Bradshaw for permission to reproduce her article which first appeared in The Channel Swimming Hand Book.

Consider these questions and then the answers:

  • What will happen if you do Nothing?
    • Nothing.
  • What is likely to happen if you take action?
    • Something.
  • What action will you take?

Motivation is the key factor as it causes a person to act. Motivation is only motivation if it gets you to “take action”. Taking action is what separates winners from losers; it is the difference between wishing and dreaming: Dreamers Act!

“Dream your painting, then paint your dream”, Vincent Van Gough

– and my dream was to swim the English Channel. So where did my motivation come from? As with you, Motivation is personal and you need to define it for yourself. This is important because if you do not, you will likely get discouraged along the way. When the going gets tough, you will give up.

Defining Motivation is about doing it in a personal manner that is relevant to you AND will compel you to ‘take action’. If it does not, then you haven’t found the right motivation. Motivation then is deeply tied to your goals; your goals are in a true sense your motivation. That is why they are personal. I had my goals and indeed they motivated me.

Getting up every morning, ‘ploughing’ up and down a pool length after length, diving into cold, chilly water isn’t everyone’s idea of fun!! I can tell you from my own experience you have to be motivated. The motivation for channel swimmers and the ‘reason to swim’ (the why) is something of an extraordinary challenge to aim for, although I consider myself an ‘ordinary person’, who has achieved extraordinary things’ in life. I’ve just had my goals set, with plenty of focus and determination. Big goals spur people to action –  people can be divided into two different categories; they either have ‘away from’ or ‘toward’ motivation. Ask yourself right now, are you motivated by a ‘stick’ (away) or a ‘carrot’ (towards).

Being a ‘towards’ motivated person, like myself, means you are always moving forward to something. A goal, which is the best motivating factor. The problem for ‘away from’ people is that when they get far enough away (e.g. An employee threatened with a wage decrease if the job is not done), their motivation goes. I have worked with people and after changing their values and using NLP techniques, I found a ‘light goes on’ and suddenly they have a realisation of how to be properly motivated.

So ‘what’s the channel challenge all about?’ Let me tell you, you will need strategies and things to keep you going: maintaining focus on what you want. To give you some idea I found these factors helped me:

Accentuate the Positive. Look at your strengths and how you can make yourself even better. If you send messages to your brain that are positive and that you can do something, convincing yourself that it is possible, your whole mindset will be positive and your goal will be achievable. Providing you work hard and effectively towards it, and never lose sight of the fact that you can do it Your Goal Will Happen.

Determination: they say, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.’ There will be obstacles along the way, such as injuries (in my case, I was forced to abandon my first Butterfly attempt 3 miles from France!!). However, life is not just about obstacles; life also provides ‘solutions and opportunities’ for you on that journey. In fact, my relay swimming days were borne from that ‘learning.’

Support:of family and friends. This for me does not need any explanation; however, with it my goals were made that much easier and even more achievable.

So, be inspired, take action. Know yourself and your motivation:

 If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t and you won’t. Either way you’ll prove yourself right. – Henry Ford.

 Follow your dreams always.

Find out more about Dr Bradshaw on her website www.getset4success.co.uk

What’s yoga got to do with climbing?

Next time you are with your parents, whom I guess are probably 20 years older than you, just sit and watch them and see how they do things. Do they struggle with the simple tasks in life? Do they complain about slight aches and pains, little niggles? Do they get out of breath doing the simplest tasks?

At the age of 41 I noticed all the little things catching up with me. I had tried to break my body over my life and failed but now, along with my climbing partners, I was getting niggles, things that didn’t quite do what they should.

I watched my parents and thought at their age I want to still be able to do all the things I do now. Look at the old in our society, that’s all of our futures. It will happen, you will get old, but do you want to be like the majority? If not act now like I did, the younger the better.

I decided to start practicing Yoga. My thoughts when I was younger were; its hairy fairy – for girls – not my thing. Well a lot, if not all, top sports people are studying Yoga. Yoga is simply stretching and it opposes the action of the muscles we use for playing sport.

I started doing a hourly session once a week. I was by no means flexible and never have been. Doing a session once a week may hold back the tide but won’t really improve things. After about a year I asked my teacher about a daily routine. Now I stretch every morning (if time allows) and every evening whilst watching TV. 3 years later my flexibility is great, but above all I have no niggles and feel alive after every stretch. With this added flexibility my climbing and other sports have improved.

Don’t be misled, yoga and stretching seems quite sedate but the more you put into it the more you get out and you will feel tired, it takes muscles to stretch so they get a good work out.

If you ever see a women the age of 85 who is looking spritely and fit for her age it would probably be a safe bet they she is a yoga teacher. Put it another way, you never see an unfit yoga teacher.