Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Upping Your Game - by Karen Varga

One of the things I love about climbing is the constant upping of the game. Tell me if you think otherwise, but I’d say climbers (in general) are suckers for challenges! We don’t sit idle ... tick a route and we’re immediately scanning the guide book for the next project, achieve 1-4-6 on the campus board and straight away we attempt 1-4-7, get results at one comp and the desire to improve on that is strong indeed ...

The 2011 World Championships has come and gone, but for me the bug has bitten. I came away from the competition a little disappointed with my results. I know physically I could have done slightly better on the routes (I think nerves and not being warmed up properly spat me off a bit early), however I don’t think I was good enough to get to the top of the qualifier routes. But I trained pretty hard for this! Which leaves a tang of frustration in my mouth and The Big Question keeping me awake at night: What can I do to improve?

Karen Varga on 2nd Qualifier route - World Champs 2011

That’s a harder question to answer than I originally thought. Identifying your weaknesses, owning up to them, and then taking that step in overcoming them is an important journey for any climber seeking to improve. So I’ve spent some time on self-reflection and I think the golden keys to my improvement lie in the following:

  • FINGER STRENTH: Doesn’t matter how strong my core is, or how much wonderful technique and endurance I have, if I can’t stick the grip ... well, off I come! :(
  • DYNAMIC MOVES: The way I climb my middle name should have been Static. And although it has its place, so does dynamic climbing. I need to train dead-pointing, and focus on using momentum between moves.
  • BIG MOVES: I’ve always blamed my inability to do big moves on my 2 inch negative ape index. But seeing how tiny Jain Kim is I realize that’s a poor excuse!
  • MORE GUSTO: I’m the queen at redpointing – once I’ve worked the moves and know what I’m doing I execute it perfectly on the redpoint, flowing gracefully between moves, never using more energy than is required, my face calm and serene. But put me on an onsight or flash and I say take at the first sign of trouble! I need to practise onsighting: taking myself out of my comfort zone, going into the unknown, staying focused, pushing past the pump, and really fighting for a route. Even if it’s only a training session!

So that covers the What, but what about the How? I’ve been scouring the internet for all sources of finger strength training guides and will over the next couple of days put together a new programme for myself.

If you have any tips or techniques that you have found to bring results then I would love it if you’d share them with me and the other readers!

Competition Wall @ Arco - World Champs 2011

Karen Varga approaching 2nd Qualifier Route - World Champs 2011

Karen Varga on 2nd Qualifier route - World Champs 2011

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