Promote "out of the box" thinking and technique

EDITORIAL

15 January 2022

We are living in a society that is more structured than ever. Climbing has become a mainstream sport and coaching, courses, competitions and trainers are the new norms for the climbing kids. Adults can get training advice from YouTubers and On-Line programs. Only some 20 years ago, this did not exist, and there were practically no coloured indoor routes, "Moon-boards", beta videos, campus and hang boards etc.

Climbing was much more about creativity and finding your own solutions and there were almost no kids climbing. Chris Sharma came along and although setting new standards, the older generation thought he could improve if he could just start using his feet better. At the same time, I had also started coaching Said Belhaj but you could actually say that I was more of an observer. None of these guys, including Adam Ondra and Alex Megos, followed any structured programs in order to get fast progress. Instead, climbing was mainly just about creating and doing your own challenges.

Around 1996 I witnessed a totally crazy example of this. Said Belhaj (15) tried to onsight a 7b route in Västervik with several hardcore guys watching him. He gets to a chipped pocket with his right hand, and apart from another drilled pocket one meter diagonally to the right, it is totally blank. Said understands that he is totally caught and that the only solution is down climbing, which does not interest him a bit. Instead, he chalks up and makes an extreme dyno hitting the blank wall leaving a tick mark. The climbers just shake their heads and asked me what was he thinking. My answer was something like:

- I think he thought climbing on a chipped route is not that interesting. Instead, he created a new challenge that also goes in line with that you should never give up. You should always end a try with an upward move instead of saying "take", in order to get as much adrenaline as possible.

I think it is very important for all junior coaches and adults following a structured plan that "out of the box" thinking and technique should be promoted. "The best climber is the one having most fun" is a saying and getting the adrenaline in the system is directly connected to having fun. Most probably, this is connected to why Sharma, Ondra and Megos became the best in the world and also why guys like Dani "a muerte" Andrada still keep pushing.

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