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How to improve at bouldering – Ten ways to get better

How to improve at bouldering – Ten ways to get better

Following on from the last blog post here are some practical things you can do right now to improve your skills for bouldering:

Learning bouldering1) Watch

Watch someone who looks like they boulder well. If you watch, you can probably learn something. Look at their hands, how they hold the holds, where and how they place their feet, what are they doing with their weight, their knees, are their feet always on the holds?

2) Ask for a demo

Find someone whose bouldering is smooth and clean and tidy. Ask them to demo a really easy problem for you. Climbers love to help other climbers and men generally like to give tips to women on the bouldering mat!  Although this may seem sexist it’s actually part of bouldering – passing on ‘beta’ (advice) to other climbers.

Bouldering at indoor wall3) Be confident

Every single person on that bouldering mat at the climbing centre started out like you. Stepping onto the mat is the first step. If you smile, people will more than likely smile back.  Bouldering areas can seem to be intimidating places, but once people know you you may be surprised at the positive cameraderie and how much climbers like to see each other getting better.

4) Visualise

Really look at the holds – which direction do they point in and what does that tell you about how to hold them, What is the sequence of the first 3 moves? Try to visualise how you will get to the top of that problem.

Bouldering at MCC

5) Work on individual skills

Check out posts on here and other sites such as UKC to improve your individual skills, such as balance or strength.

6) Get some coaching

If you really want to focus on improving your weaknesses and building your strengths investigate coaching sessions either alone or in a pair to make it cheaper.

Bouldering at indoor wall7) Go to a club and find the better boulderers

Ask them for their tips and work together to motivate each other.

8) Set yourself an achievable target

Having a target, for example to improve your bouldering by one grade, can really motivate some people. But don’t let it grind you down and lose sight of becoming a better boulderers at all costs. Listen to what your body is telling you and if it needs rest, concentrate on another aspect of fitness until your body is recovered.

9) Loosen up

Ballet and yoga classes are good ways of building up the flexibility and other strengths you need to become a good all round climber. Find someone that will provide the best class for your needs as a climber by quizzing the instructor first!

Bouldering indoors10) Persist

You will see seasoned boulderers working again and again on the same problem indoors and out. By persisting you will build up your muscle memory and strength and skills and psych. When you finally achieve that problem can you imagine how that feels?
Here’s a film that exemplifies persistence!
As always, add more in via the comments box if you have other ways to help people improve their bouldering.
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  • Emma
    June 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Great tips! Fantastic movie, seriously inspired. X

  • Drew
    December 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Great list. Really useful advice.

    One thing to add to point 6 is that a lot of walls offer free coaching sessions for beginners and intermediate climbers. Some even do ladies only coaching sessions.

    I’d also add point 11. Talk to the staff. Most climbing wall staff are lovely people and will know some cunning beta for most problems.
    And point 12. Is your kit holding you back? Are your shoes past their best? Are your jeans restricting your movement? But there’s an entire series of articles on this topic.

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