Be a Critic
with a quick detail about how it was different and then rate it by feel on its effectiveness of using your lower body for that lap. For example, “Using high feet in this option really allowed me to stand with my legs instead of pull with my arms for each move.” Scale the drill’s intensity by increasing the difficulty of the climb you are trying so that coming up with options requires more effort and creativity. your singular focus will become easier. Have them let you know during your climb when you’ve strayed away from what you set out to do. Would you say it’s far easier to be critical while watching other people climb than it is to be critical of ourselves while we’re hanging on for dear life? Maybe the ability to puppeteer our climber from the comfort of a belay or spot comes from not being occupied with the challenges of climbing, which allows us to see options more clearly.
Asking ourselves subtle questions prior to spraying our insights from a distance can make our suggestions more relevant to the challenges they are facing. Does my advice consider the climber being supported from their lower body for the move I am suggesting? Are they balanced, or moving towards balance? Is it the holds they are on that are challenging them or the holds they are going for that need the solution to focus on?
Then, to get even more value from your advice, take it yourself and try what you suggest. Hold yourself accountable for the option you offered and test whether it is a good option for moving through the crux.
Some of my hardest climbs demanded more creativity than strength training. From finding a new sequence that required doing one legged squats for a month i n order to stand up while making use of an undercling above my head to exploring on top rope for an hour to eventually find a way through that involved closing my eyes and focusing on moving my hips eight inches to the left in order to perform a mantle and hand-foot match easily. Using my knee as a foot hold and standing up on it and realizing how easy that can make a hard move.
The cheekily named Doer, Not a Critic 5.11c in the New River Gorge teaches climbers what a knee can offer towards making a hard sequence easy. Thinking about the name of this route offers us one other important insight about the challenges we face when learning while climbing.
It’s hard to do something at our limit and think about what we’re doing at the same time. Yet the only way we can improve and get better results is by becoming the critic that disappears when we just do it.
Mark Smith on Sould Food