For most climbers, getting better is one of the key goals they are working towards. And there are many ways to help yourself improve:
- Watching videos
- Reading articles
- Watching more experienced people at the gym
- Taking lessons at your local gym
- Or listening to podcasts
And while these methods certainly help, nothing beats getting out on the rock and practicing some of the techniques you’ve learned.
But here’s the thing:
If you’re teaching yourself the techniques incorrectly, it will hurt you further down the line. You can climb until your fingers bleed, but you’ll hit a wall you can’t overcome because of the mistakes you made along the way.
And this is where getting a climbing coach can help. So, in this article, we will discuss what a climbing coach is and some ways hiring a climbing coach can help you.
Not only that:
But we’ll also talk you through tackling multiple disciplines and so much more. If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, don’t go anywhere:
What Is A Climbing Coach?
A climbing coach is an experienced professional who provides guidance, instruction, and training to individuals or groups looking to improve their climbing skills and performance.
They are usually professional athletes, ex-competition climbers, climbing guides, and route setters; so they know what they’re talking about.
The best thing is:
Their main goal is to help climbers achieve their personal goals, whether that’s mastering specific techniques, increasing strength and endurance, overcoming mental barriers, or preparing for competitions.
Climbing coaches can work in various settings, including climbing gyms, outdoor climbing areas, and even remotely through online coaching platforms.
Climbing Coach Responsibilities and Goals
The role of a climbing coach can encompass a wide range of responsibilities, including:
Coaches teach climbers proper techniques, movement patterns, and strategies to become more efficient and effective climbers. And this can involve instruction on footwork, hand placements, body positioning, and route reading.
Coaches design training plans to improve climbers’ physical fitness, including strength, endurance, flexibility, and conditioning.
Climbing often requires a strong mental game. Coaches assist climbers in developing mental toughness, confidence, focus, and strategies to manage fear and stress.
Coaches work with climbers to set realistic and achievable goals, whether related to climbing grades, specific routes, competitions, or personal challenges.
Coaches educate climbers about proper warm-up routines, injury prevention techniques, and safe climbing practices to minimize the risk of injuries.
For climbers involved in competitive climbing, coaches help with competition strategies, route visualization, and mental preparation for the pressures of competition.
Feedback and Analysis
Coaches provide constructive feedback by observing climbers’ performance and suggesting areas for improvement. They may use video analysis or direct observation to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Coaches will create customized training plans tailored to the individual climbers’ goals, skill levels, and schedules. These plans often include various training techniques, rest periods, diet planning, and progress tracking.
Motivation and Support
Climbing can be challenging both physically and mentally. Coaches offer inspiration, encouragement, and emotional support to help climbers stay focused and motivated.
Knowledge of Climbing Equipment
Coaches provide advice on the selection and proper use of climbing equipment, such as shoes, harnesses, ropes, and protective gear.
In other words, climbing coaches are used when you need to take your climbing to the next level.
When Should You Get A Climbing Coach?
Often you’ll know when it’s time to need one but in many cases, you might actually benefit from one before you realize it. Climbers are renowned for wanting to “do their own thing”, when in reality they could benefit from a little structure.
There are no prerequisites, so don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re at the level to need a climbing coach; any coach will work with you.
But here are some reasons you might consider getting a coach:
- Desire for Improvement: If you’re passionate about climbing and want to improve your skills, a coach can help you progress more quickly and effectively than trying to learn by yourself.
- Plateau in Progress: If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau and are struggling to advance your climbing abilities, a coach can provide fresh perspectives, techniques, and training methods to help you breakthrough.
- Specific Goals: If you have clear goals, such as climbing a specific grade, completing a particular route, or participating in a competition, a coach can create a tailored training plan to help you achieve those goals.
- Injury Prevention: Climbing coaches can teach you proper techniques, warm-up routines, and injury prevention strategies to keep you safe while climbing.
- Efficiency and Technique: A coach can help refine your movement techniques, body positioning, and climbing efficiency, making climbing more enjoyable and less strenuous.
- Mental Game Improvement: If you struggle with fear, anxiety, or lack of confidence while climbing, a coach can provide strategies to improve your mental game and enhance your overall climbing experience.
- Time Efficiency: A coach can design a training plan that optimizes your time and effort, ensuring that your climbing sessions are productive and aligned with your goals.
- Competition Preparation: If you’re interested in competitive climbing, a coach can guide you in route visualization, strategy development, and mental preparation for competitions.
- Lack of Experience: If you’re new to climbing, a coach can help you build a solid foundation of skills, safety practices, and climbing knowledge.
- Accountability and Motivation: Having a coach can provide a sense of accountability and motivation to work on your climbing skills and training routine consistently.
- Learning Efficiently: A coach can save you time and frustration by guiding you toward effective training methods and techniques, preventing you from learning bad habits or wasting time on ineffective practices.
- Customized Training: A coach can create a training plan that is tailored to your strengths, weaknesses, and schedule, maximizing your progress.
These are a few of the reasons you might be considering getting a climbing coach in your life.
Consider The Type Of Climbing You Require Coaching
When you’re considering finding a climbing coach, it’s essential to consider the type of climbing you need to improve.
And here’s why:
So, let’s take a look at the different disciplines and see how your climbing coach will help:
Trad climbing is a complicated discipline to overcome due to the complexity of gear placement, technique, and the mental barrier of gear failing.
And these could be the reasons you opt for trad climbing coaching. A trad climbing coach will help you in areas like:
- Gear placement
- Building anchors
- Trusting your gear
- Route finding
- Getting over mental barriers
- And much more
Although the above will be the main focus of the coaching program, they can also help you with finger-strength training, avoiding injury, and improving physical and mental conditioning.
One of the best things about finding a climbing coach for bouldering is that many coaches are geared more toward bouldering.
And this is because bouldering was the original training discipline. It’s basically what trad and sport climbers would use to train and warm up before climbs.
The best thing about getting a bouldering coach is that it’s pretty transferable between all disciplines, which is why I would recommend getting a bouldering coach (unless you need to learn rope work or how to deal with heights).
During your time with a bouldering coach, you can expect help with the following:
- Power endurance
- Abdominal strength (core)
- Dynamic movements
- Finger strength
- And much more
You can also expect to learn a lot about how to read the routes and stay injury-free, which is vital if your competition is coming up.
Sport climbing is probably the second most popular discipline in climbing, which means you shouldn’t have any shortage of finding a coach.
And one of the great things about coaching sports is that you don’t have to worry too much about rope rock, which can be practiced inside, just like bouldering.
While spending time with a sport climbing coach, you’ll more than likely focus on these areas:
- Fear of falling
- Remaining calm
Of course, there’s a good chance you’ll focus on many other aspects, especially if you’re training for a competition.
How To Choose The Right Climbing Coach For You
Finding the right climbing coach for you isn’t going to be an easy task, which is why I wanted to give you some pointers for finding the best coach for you:
- Define Your Goals: Before seeking a coach, be clear about your goals. Are you looking to improve your climbing grade, tackle a specific route, prepare for competitions, or enhance your technique? Understanding your objectives will guide your search for a coach who can help you achieve those goals.
- Research Coaches: Start by researching coaches in your area or those who offer remote coaching. You can search online, check climbing gym notice boards, or ask for recommendations from fellow climbers.
- Check Qualifications and Experience: Look for coaches with relevant certifications, climbing experience, and a track record of helping climbers improve. Certifications from organizations like the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) or local climbing associations can indicate a coach’s expertise.
- Read Reviews and Testimonials: Check online reviews, testimonials, or ask for references from the coach. Hearing about others’ experiences can give you insight into the coach’s teaching style, communication skills, and effectiveness.
- Meet or Talk: Arrange an initial meeting, phone call, or video chat with potential coaches. This is an opportunity to discuss your goals, ask questions, and get a sense of their coaching approach. Consider asking about their coaching philosophy, training methods, and experience working with climbers at your level.
- Communication Style: Pay attention to how well you communicate with the coach. Effective communication is crucial for understanding instructions and receiving feedback. Make sure you feel comfortable asking questions and expressing your concerns.
- Compatibility: Consider the coach’s personality and teaching style. Do you feel motivated and inspired by their approach? A good coach-client fit can enhance your learning experience.
- Customization: Inquire about the coach’s approach to creating personalized training plans. A coach who tailors their guidance to your specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses will likely be more effective in helping you progress.
- Availability: Ensure that the coach’s schedule aligns with yours. Consistency in training sessions is important for progress.
- Cost: Understand the coach’s pricing structure. Coaching fees can vary based on the coach’s experience, qualifications, and level of customization in your training plan.
- Track Record: Ask about the coach’s success stories with previous clients. If they can provide examples of climbers who have achieved their goals under their guidance, it’s a positive indicator.
- Trial Session: Some coaches offer trial sessions or consultations. Participating in a trial session can give you firsthand experience of the coach’s teaching style and whether it resonates with you.
- Feedback and Progress Tracking: Inquire about how the coach provides feedback and tracks your progress. Regular assessments and feedback loops are essential for monitoring your development.
- Long-Term Plan: Discuss the coach’s approach to long-term training. A coach who focuses on sustainable progress and growth over time is often better than one who promises quick results.
- Trust Your Instincts: Ultimately, trust your gut feeling. If a coach feels like the right fit and aligns with your goals, values, and preferences, that’s a good sign.
Remember that finding the right coach might take time, and exploring different options is okay before deciding. Investing in a coach who can guide and support your climbing journey can be incredibly rewarding and substantially improve your skills and performance.
Final Thoughts on a Climbing Coach
Hopefully, this article has explained why you might need a climbing coach and what they can offer you.
The right climbing coach can help you take your game further than you ever thought possible. But you have to remember finding the right climbing coach for you isn’t always an easy task. So, don’t be shy to shop around and try people out.
In short, don’t rush into things; take your time and explore your options before you commit to one coach.