We can learn a lot from how elite athletes climb. We can also learn a lot from experts. Here’s a great example: Eric Hörst is an expert in training research. He analyzed Margo Hayes’ ascent of Biographie (5.15a) on his site Training-for-Climbing. He outlines three areas we should pay attention to for learning from elite athletes:
- Footwork, hip positioning, and posture
- Use of momentum and deadpoint movements
- Micro rests while climbing
Watch the video and read the full article on Eric’s site. He put a lot of work into analyzing her performance and did an amazing job sussing out the learning points.
All these areas reveal subtle ways elite athletes improve the way they use their physical attributes in climbing. These areas also have mental dimensions; they impact how well we use the mind. Here are some examples that align with the above points:
- The mind should be aware, but not thinking and interfering with what the body is doing to move. Focusing our attention on footwork, hip positioning, and posture keeps attention in the body and out of the mind.
- Eric points out how “sprinting” between rest stances uses energy efficiently and creates momentum. Continuous movement tends to disengage the mind from thinking, keeps our attention in the body, and minimizes interference from the mind.
- The body can only stay in stressful climbing for so long before it fails. That’s true of the mind also. Micro rests give the mind a brief respite from the exertion of effort.
Eric summarizes his article by saying: “Make climbing faster a must for you this season–this change alone could easily increase your climbing by one grade.” I wholeheartedly agree. “Channel your inner Margo” suggests Eric. In other words, learn from elite athletes by emulating them. And, learn from experts too.