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!


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