I’ve never been a sports person. I generally dislike most of them: or maybe not as much as dislike, but just feel very indifferent about them. My ideal sport was:
- Solitary (in the sense that you can perform it without other people)
- Technical, but not enough that you can’t perform the sport without months of exercise.
- Not relying on a strenght level I don’t have.
There aren’t so many sports that fulfill these requirements. Before the pandemic, this would be running: getting out every day and doing 5km was kind of easy, cheap and a way to decompress. I prefered to do it after dinner, as a way to end the day, when the streets where mostly empty and I could put on a 35 minute album and just enjoy the music while running. Back in Barcelona, I used to run along the
Rambla de Badal so much I even started to recognize the faces of fellow runners.
I lost all progres after Covid hit, and have failed to regain the habitude ever since. I tried a couple of martial arts as well over the years: judo was fun, but most of the people in class were awkward teenagers who had been at it for years already, so I didn’t enjoy it too much. Aikido was super fun, but, to be honest, it’s a bit too niche and quirky.
Climbing (and, specifically, bouldering), however… It’s loads of fun, and fullfills all my criteria for doing it. The fact that the problems are ephemeral (as they get changed every two weeks or so) makes it perfect.
Writing about climbing is like reading about music, in that most of the learning is intrinsic to body placement and muscle memory rather than explicitly transmissible. Still, I think there are general principles that hold in theory and that benefit climber practice.
In my (limited) experience, there are two key principles to know about boulder climbing:
- Boulder climbing is about efficiency: planning a way to solve a route beforehand and making each movement spend as little energy as possible while progressing is rewarded.
- It’s, above all, a mental sport: being present, conscious of your body and gravity axis at all times, breathing properly and trying to be as precise as possible are key elements. My worst climbing days so far have always been due to poor mood and lack of concentration. Fear of falling and half-attempts are also a key distraction.
For the first principle, one has to be aware of several common mistakes:
- Climbing is a function of the legs: you gain nothing by overusing your arms. In other words: as long as you arms are extended you should be ok. As a general rule, holds should never be below your face level unless you have very good footing, as that would mean your arms are the ones keeping you close to the wall.
- A good climb should be controlled: it has more to do with hip rotation and squatting that pulling oneself up by sheer strength.
- Foot position is king: climbing with your toetips allows rotation of the body, so it’s the first thing one should take care off.
A couple techniques one should check out after some attempts at the wall are:
- Hip rotations (I’m not sure how these are called technically).
[To be expanded]