Training for Climbing 4

Coordination and Climbing

Apr 13, 2020 5:07:00 PM / by Naomi Hatto

As climbers I think it’s fairly accepted that an amount of coordination is pretty handy - being able to put your hand or foot where you want it without too much mental effort makes the act of climbing much easier. Food for you tend to flag more often than is strictly necessary? This can be a habit but it’s possible that it’s also to do with the fact that, mentally, it is easier to organise and concentrate on 3 limbs rather than all 4 - meaning that the flagging leg is just kinda stuck out there (not always the case but) often not actually doing anything useful. Standing on 2 feet, or at least engaging both legs fully should, physically, make the move easier. On this note: how do you cope when you need to move 2 limbs at once, or 3 or all 4 of your limbs? It can get pretty complicated, especially when you add dynamic movement and hand/footholds that you can’t see. 


Now I’m not suggesting that you should start dynoing around your house when you can’t get to the climbing wall for a period of time, I do not, in fact, have a climbing specific set of exercises in mind for improving at this.

Fortunately, if you improve your general coordination in day to day life then this will translate to your climbing, so no excuses home dwellers! 


Firstly, what is coordination? Thanks to the cambridge dictionary for the following definition: Coordination is the ability to make your arms, legs, and other body parts move in a controlled way.


With all this in mind I’ve been wondering if there is anything I can do at home to improve my coordination in a manner that will translate to climbing. One of the first things that came to mind was different forms of dance - not my area of expertise - but that got me thinking that I could still have a go and maybe I’d improve pretty quickly because I’m such a can guarantee that there will be a lot of youtube-ing at ours and feeling daft in front of a mirror but hey ho.


In dance one of the first suggestions for improving a specific movement is ‘to slow it down’ we use this in climbing fairly often too. This train of thought seems to fall down when you start looking at moving dynamically and doing more complicated movements however - I’ve never been sure how to ‘slow down’ a dyno... But, at home, without a home board or the space to do wild dynos maybe borrowing coordination exercises from dancers isn’t such a bad idea. At this point you can actually follow the other useful bit of advice which is ‘to split the movement into its component parts’; for example juggling: if you can’t catch then the act of juggling is going to seem impossible so the first thing to learn is to catch (and to throw accurately) before you can contemplate starting to focus on the act of juggling itself.


Like using your non-dominant hand (or foot) to do mundane tasks (you can do fun stuff too) coordination games should help your climbing (in a kinda hard to measure way) and it’s great to have ones that can be played pretty much anywhere. I’m sure you’ve all had a go at rubbing your tummy and patting your head at some point in the distant past - I guess this is the sort of thing I’m suggesting but less likely to wreck your hair...Some of these can also be used as a part of your climbing warm up when at the wall.


Anyway, here are a few of my suggestions:


  • Circling arms in opposite directions to each other - to add challenge you can speed it up, slow it down transition straight from one direction to the other.


  • Opposite wrist and ankle circles (circling in the same and opposite directions)


  • Skipping - two feet together, separately, just using 1 foot, add cross skipping, change direction, you can speed up or slow down either the rope or your feet - can you do double-unders?


  • Jazz arm styling - I’m not going to include a video of me doing this because I’ve only just discovered this and am only making very slow progress!
    This guy make it look not only incredibly simple but also gives a fair few combinations to try:


  • Juggling - another good option if you’ve not tried it before (I tried to learn last year and made progress but life etc got in the way so maybe now is a good time to try again..?)


  • Check out the Charleston - you can probably find some good clips on youtube (just watching someone dance the Charleston starts to melt my brain but learning it would likely do me some good!)


Tags: COVID-19

Naomi Hatto

Written by Naomi Hatto