Ok lets get this out of the way. I know I am not going to be a professional climber. Those guys are absolute freaks that have been charging harder than I ever will by the age 14. I am just a guy who wants to be able to climb harder routes, basically, I want to climb those beautiful empty routes that are way above my current grade instead of battling it out with the top-rope gang bangs on the polished 6B/Cs Now that we got this out of the way, I wanted to share my thoughts on getting a climbing coach.
So I have been an athlete my entire life. I grew up playing soccer and was a goal keeper through university for University of Pennsylvania. I like to work and train hard. When I started climbing three years ago I took the same attitude towards climbing. I started bouldering once a week, twice a week, and eventually four times a week. I saw great improvements in my bouldering as I got generally stronger and some basic technique. I got a few climbing elbows and tendon soreness along the way which you absolutely need to take care of or it will plague you for a long time. We are not going to be talking about that here though. I hit a plateau for a while at v2/v3 range. I felt like I lost all of my momentum and lost confidence but kept climbing. I hit some more plateaus along the way and started leading where I hit even more plateaus. The whole time I was purely just working hard and just trying to “climb more.”
The “climb more” mentality was definitely beneficial in the starting stages of my climbing career; however, it has since led to bad fatigue issues and tendon pain. Each time I climbed I did not feel fresh. My crimps felt like I had no tension and more forearms would pump very quickly. This led to a lot of frustration on my part and I started looking for options. My home gym, The Castle Climbing Center, advertised private performance coaching and I decided to give it a go. After an initial assessment I was given targeted exercises and a weekly plan. I still climb four times a week but this time with a purpose. I am not just trying to send hard routes but rather I am working aerobic capacity, power, footwork and so on. I am only pushing my grade once out of my four sessions each week. On that day, I am hungry to climb hard, but more importantly, I feel fresh and stronger than ever.
Getting a coach has not given me the secret sauce or been a magic turnkey solution to let me try Ondra’s “Silence,” but it has given me direction. Throughout my entire athletic career I have always pushed myself to work hard, but this was always under the watchful eyes of a skilled coach pushing me in the right direction. Why would climbing be any different? Now as I said. I know I am not going to be a professional climber so I am not having sessions daily or even weekly. I have check-ins every few weeks where we update my plan and check in on my progress and this works perfectly for me. Next time I get out to Portland I hope to touch some less polished rock.
For more on Portland check out this article