Sunday, 28 February 2010

YCS Results + Training

Hey guys what's up?

This Saturday was the first round of the Youth Climbing Series for the Scotland South region. The round was held in the new Stirling wall. I haven't been there but I've heard that it's very vertical. Anyway, my three young padawans Abi, Andrew and Jamie were competing at the weekend. Unfortunately I couldn't be there because I'm selfish i.e. I wanted to train and go to my birthday dinner.

Anyhoo, Saturday I climbed with the on-sight machine known as Niall McNair and the "spare rib" Ross Kirkland. We saw some pretty amazing ascents throughout the day from these characters. Ross completing the white 7c+/8a second go and McNair onsighting everything he touched. It was pleasing to see that by his 12th route of 7b and harder he actually looked slightly tired (he hesitated before moving, something that is rarely seen in his climbing!). I had a couple of burns on my project - the green 8a/9a :P and repeated several 7c+'s and 8a's that I've done before. After 5 or 6 routes I moved onto 3 second locks and the day was done.

I was eager to find out the results of the YCS round so I rang up young padawan number 2, Andrew (Gromit) to find out how it went. I was totally psyched out of my mind to find out that my 3 proteges achieved 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their respective categories. First off, Abi Blunt had a very successful day, achieving 3rd place in under 16 girls. Her competition was fierce and she had to battle for her position. I hear she was a hold off 2nd and a mere clip from topping the hardest route which would have made her equal 1st. The Crimpinator himself (Andrew Barr) achieved 2nd place in under 16 boys. Talking to him and from reading his blog ( he had to fight hard. It seems the style of problems did not suit him and the pressures of competition held him back slightly, but these are all areas that we can work on to better improve his performance in future competitions. Finally, padawan number 3 (Jamie Drummond) achieved 1st place in under 16 boys. No doubt an extremely impressive performance led to this result. Lets keep it up Jamie!!!

Next week is the Scottish Youth Bouldering Championships held at transition Extreme. I wish the all the best in this event and I've no doubt we'll see more impressive performances by everyone.

Well done to everyone else who competed! Lets get a 1st place in the regional YCS event.


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Coaching the Trio

Hey guys

The trio is of course young Jamie, Abi and Andrew (nicknamed Ging-er, Abs of Steel and Gromit). This week was probably the most succesful session we've had together and is a sure sign that when you train and push yourself, you really can see the benefits. All 3 of them have been working hard for the upcoming YCS rounds and it has definitely shown with their performances on Saturday.

We started the day attempting to complete on of the new boulder circuits Buzby, Mcgeek, Lisandro and I made during the week. While the three of them did the Purple V1-V5, I attempted the white V3-V6. To make it more interesting I formatted the session in the form of a competition to get them ready for next saturday. It was really interesting watching the pressure break out and how their attitudes changed towards each other. Particularly between the two lads Andrew and Jamie, there is quite a rivalry (friendly of course), and there fight to be on top of each other in the competition was evident. Each has very different strengths and weaknesses and it was interesting seeing how each of them tackled different styles of problems with different techniques and tactics. We looked a lot at reading sequences and competition tactics as well as what to look for in a hold that will determine what hand you hold it with. Abi showed some outstanding performances on the problem, holding her own against the much physically stronger guys. At the end of the circuit, Andrew and Jamie tied, so to determine the winner we had a final. One of the mid-grade problems from the Tan circuit, a prime problem for such an event. Weighing at a heavy V5, the problem was short, powerful, crimpy and had a devilish sloper move at the end to a good edge as the finishing hold. First up was Andrew, first move he popped to a positive, but slightly sloping pinch, up to an awkward crimp with the right and slapping into a close left hand crimp to steady himself. A big slap for the sloper and he held it, right foot rising he was ebbing away from the wall but at the last second he exploded for the final edge and caught it as his feet flung out from the wall. Re-establishing his feet he matched and grasped victory against the problem. Up comes Jamie, now that he has to top the problem to maintain his joint first position, the nerves break out, you can see it in his climbing, not as fluid as he usually is but he looks more determined than i've ever seen him. He slaps every hold a little too uncontrolled but managing to maintain his grip, slapping up to the hard move to the sloper he grasps it in an awkward and unbalanced position, he holds it for a breathe and then he's back on the mats...

This exercise was invaluable experience for them, something that we need more of when coaching young competition climbers. They know how to climb and we can teach them that until the cows come home, but learning the discipline you need to be a competition climber takes experience and a lot of hours of just competing. If we can create these experiences outside of the important competitions in training then we can prepare them for the real thing.

After the boulder circuits we moved onto routes. Each of them now have their own projects and I am more certain than ever that it is largely their belief in themselves that is holding them back. All three of them are capable of climbing 7b but only one of them has. Why is this? I am as certain as I will ever be of anything that what holds them back is there self-belief and their fear of falling and both are linked! Anyway, Abi is now working the Orange 6c up the main wall's steepest overhang, Jamie is working the Grey 7a and Andrew is on the Blue 7a+ and Grey 7a (same as jamie). Its interesting to see that Jamie, who really struggled on the blue, seems to find the grey relatively easy, and Andrew, struggles on the Grey and finds the blue relatively easy. The two contrasting styles of climbers really shows up on their performance on certain styles of routes and it is important that we as coaches iron out the weaknesses of the climber and attempt to make them an all-round better climber performing well in all styles of climbing.

As well as the routes, i have also assigned Andrew the task of attempting to complete the White boulder circuit in one session and Abi and Jamie, the purple circuit. Both circuits have similar level problems on them but attack the weaknesses of the climbers attempting them. We will see how they progress in the meantime, and i'm looking forward to seeing how they perform is the YCS Round 1. I've no doubt that there will be some spectacular performances!


Friday, 19 February 2010

British Team Coaching - Carmel Moran

Hey Everyone!

Today I was coaching one of the younger Junior British Team members, Carmel Moran (Youth C). She was just up for the weekend from Sunderland with her dad. He booked her in for a personal coaching session and I was assigned to her due to my experience with competitions. The session was an hour and a half and we got through quite a bit in that time if I do say so myself. We started of with a nice warm up, she did a few easy traverses, and boulder problems, a bit of stretching and then onto the routes.

First route was a nice 6a+ (grey) up the left-hand side of the main wall. She lead this route nicely and relaxed well into the height of the ratho walls. Next we moved onto something a bit trickier but still quite a bit from her limit, the white 6b up the main wall corner. This is one of my own creations and as everyone knows whose tried it, you must plan your clips well and understand how to route read. Despite a few shout downs to ask where to clip and a particularly reachy clip, Carmel despatched this route with such elegance worthy of labeling her a climbing ballet dancer :P

After that, we moved onto the new comp wall where she cam agonizingly close to on-sighting the white 6c up the middle. Someone of her age to be able to come that close to on-sighting something so steep at that level is truly inspirational, it was a pretty awesome attempt and I am still psyched to get stuck into some hard routes myself after watching her performance!

After that, we headed onto the newly set boulders and tried some of the new problems Buz, Lisandro, Geeks and I have been setting over the past couple of days (Patrick also made a contribution). After dispatching a good few V3 - V4's and discussing different hold types and competition techniques in route reading, we went back and attempted a purple 6c. Falling at only one move (Because it was too big) she showed a lot of resistance and battled the entire way. Our final route was the green 6c+, one i think is no pushover. She gave one hell of an attempt and fell very close to the top missing out on only a few clips because of a difficult undercut sloper move.

A final boulder and a couple more despatched problems later and it was time up. She had a great time climbing at the world famous EICA: Ratho and no doubt awed by the brilliance of their climbing coaches : P and I hope to be seeing her lots at upcoming competitions.

Look out for this one everyone!!!


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Robin Sutton Coaching Day

Today was the first British Team Regional Meet of the year. Robin Sutton had agreed to come in and do some coaching. Being himslef one of Britain's top level competition climbers and sport climbers, his top tips are invaluable to our progression as climbers. Meeting here (Ratho) today was Angus Davidson, William Bosi, Eleanor Hopkins and Rachel Carr for the younger group and myself (Robbie Phillips), Natalie Berry, Jonathan Field and Paul Williamson. The younger group started their session with Robin at 13:00 whilst we did some climbing.

Climbing today was actually not too bad. I mainly climbed with John Inglis (one of the more dedicated to training climbers at ratho). I started off trying to finish of my project (Green 8a) which i'm convinced is more like 8a+. I then moved onto another project (White 7c) more like 8a, but where the final moves are the 8a and its probably only 7b+ up to there. I fell on the final move, an improvement from previous attempts last week.

As for Robins session, it was totally awesome! We started off learning about how to train power endurance by circuits and problem reps. We did one set of circuits (5 reps) and 2 sets of Problem reps (5 reps as well). The circuits are as long as we want them i.e. whatever length we need to be training. Mine was 35 moves and went up and down the 45 degree board. The circuit has to be easy enough so that you can repeat it at least four and a half times without falling (this is to get the maximum benefit).

After that, we went upstairs to the gym to learn about core training. In the session we covered a variety of different core exercises designed to improve all aspects of core. The exercises varied from strength-based (which hit the larger muscle groups) to more balance-based activities which hit smaller, deeper muscles - vital for a fully functioning, efficient core body strength.


Today I was meant to be doing 4x4's, but thanks to some very selfish friends of mine who would rather go climbing at Glasgow Climbing Centre than belay me, I was forced to scavenge the Ratho arena for potential belay mates. After bouldering for half an hour I grabbed Iain Cropley and James MacCartan. Successful ticks during the day were the first ascent of the white 7c+/8a and a new high point on my green 8a - the last clip! Ian managed to successfully flash my white 7b up the justice wall on top rope as well, a pretty incredible ascent with literally no sign of struggle - less effort than the local wads i've seen expend on it

so altogether, a pretty good day


Monday, 8 February 2010


Hey everyone!

So... last Saturday I was coaching the young hot shots, Jamie Drummond, Abi Blunt and Andrew Barr (all tipped for top places in the up and coming YCS Rounds). This was my second session with them so far. I will be coaching them on an ongoing basis every 2 weeks, so they'll probably all be on-sighting 8a by the end of the year?

My first session with them (2 weeks previous) was an assessment of their abilities both technical and physical. It was very clear through the bouldering and route session I had with them what exactly where their weak points where. On a general sum up, It was quite obvious that all three lacked confidence. A big sign of this was there inability to push themselves on hard routes. I am certain that all three of them are capable of climbing a lot harder than they show. Over the years, i've seen many a climber give attempt after attempt at hard projects and boulders, and the only thing holding them back is confidence. Shouting "Take!" repeatedly every time you reach a hard move is not going to get you to the top of a climb, and in my own experience, the longer you continue with these habits of doubt and fear of failure, the harder it is going to be to succeed. You don't see Sharma shouting take at every hard move on his route? He is more likely to skip bolts until he gets to a jug! So that is one area I have decided to work with them on. At the end of Saturday session we did some fall practice on a particularly scary part of the old comp wall which I think has helped fight their fear of falling

Each of them had their own specific weaknesses as well. Jamie is amazing at big jumpy moves between positive holds, but he can't crimp or do hard static moves. Andrew is awesome at the crimping and staticness, but fails on the jumpy, open-handed wonder moves and finally Abi, she just needs to improve her confidence and build up her raw power a bit more and then she'll be flying!

So i've made them programs to follow (I hope they are sticking to them). The programs involve a lot on anaerobic training (Hard routes, on-sight and project) as well as a bit of bouldering (Anaerobic Power) and a lot of regeneration and mileage.

But it wasn't just coaching on saturday, I had fun too! I had a hard route session which i started by onsight first ascenting a new 7b+/c, moving onto falling of the final 2 clips of the green 8a. Then I moved on to attempt an onsight of another new 7c (white) which i think might be as hard as the green (maybe a little easier?), 7c+/8a??? But for sure these routes would all be 8a outside... easily... I finished the day doing 3 second locks on some circuits nat made me and I was goosed. Sunday I had my 4x4 endurance session and today I was up at 6:30 gyming it, after I had my campus session and after that I had another aerobic endurance/cardio session on the rowing machines!!!

Altogether a totally awesome weekend to begin a new totally awesome week!

Whats more... the mats are ratho are now fitted and the boulders are ready to be explored and climbed upon once again!!! WOOOOOOOOOOHHH!

Monday, 1 February 2010

New Rowts + Training

Hey guys!

Sorry for not posting in a while, been mega busy with climbing! Since New Year, I've started my new periodized training cycle (written by Neil Mcgeachy and Martin Hopkins). It seems very complex when I talking about all the technical terms like anatomic adaptation and anabolic preparation and whatever... but really it is quite simple. Al it entails is moving from large volume:low intensity training to Low volume:High intensity training. I have finished phase 1, this was the high endurance based phase that took 4 weeks to do, and now I'm into the next phase, another 4 week block of laps, campusing, finger boarding, gym work and hard climbing!

At the beginning of the phase, I felt very weak endurance-wise, now I'm feeling a lot better. I seem to be able to lap 7b's without getting pumped which is a start and I made my first ascent of a new 8a at Ratho I set (Psyched!). My bouldering is doing OK at the moment (not brilliant, but OK). I've been having bouldering mileage days where i come in and do an hour of flash/2nd go problems i.e. V5-V7. And everything else has been pretty much endurance based. I feel good on routes right now e.g. I think if i was to go to Ceuse right now I would be on-sighting the 8a's, but I want to be stronger than that! 8c is a big thing for me and I don't think its too far off if I train hard! I might be going to Ceuse this summer so that might be my big break!

What else? I've been doing a bit of coaching as well. I have taken on three new apprentices, Abi Blunt, Jamie Drummond and Andrew Barr. Three awesome climbers and really cool kids. They all have very particular styles and very obvious strengths and weaknesses. All of them have a hard time taking falls and none of them have any belief in themselves... they need to get this sorted because they have so much talent and potential! Saturday is my next session with them and its then they will be receiving their new personalized programs.

Another guy i've been doing a bit of climbing with is Rory (new kid on the block). At 7 years old, he's by far the most determined climber I have ever seen and one of the most talented and promising young rockers I've ever had the pleasure to climb along side. Having climbed with him twice now, and seen him at Ratho almost every day for the past month, he never ceases to amaze me just how totally psyched and focussed he is to succeed! He can be found either in the Ratho cave or on the boulders rippin' up whatever comes his way! Right now his projects include the "whole" Grey 6c+/7a traverse (Boulder cave) and the Orange V1 (Boulders), so don't get in his way otherwise there will be trouble!



p.s. Also, set loads of new routes at ratho. Someone get the 2nd ascent of my grey and confirm the grade!!!