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How to Be a Better Climber (Beginners)

How to Be a Better Climber (Beginners) - The Adventure Found Me

Being a good rock climber means that you have learned and then mastered a good technique. As you progress, strength and predisposition are not going to get you very far if you technique is bad. The mistake many climbers make, is to believe that in order to be better, they need to be stronger. Sure, strength helps, but it is not all, in fact, you’ll see plenty of amateur climbers who train their strength a lot, but once they are on the wall, they feel powerless if they are required to make a particular move.

To help us understand what it means to be a better climber, let’s take a look at the top élite climbers and their careers. What do Chris Sharma, Alex Honnold and Sasha DiGiulian have in common? They all started very young. With this I don’t mean that if you start late in life you’re not going to be good, but when you are young, you don’t focus on your strength as much. Young people are knowledge sponges, they are curious and they want to know things. As we grow, we don’t have the patience to learn and we want to get stronger fast. So you either have to start as a child, or you get into the right mindset to learn a good technique. As the top climber Lynn Hill says:

I’m a curious person. That, I think, is a quality that’s necessary for education: if you’re not curious then you’re not interested, and if you’re not interested then you’re not going to learn.”

Now the problem is: it’s easier to get stronger than to get better. Just about anyone can go to the climbing gym and finish some walls or boulder problems and feeling on top of the world but training to improve technique is more of a mental effort. It requires coordination and awareness, both of which, if you climb for fun, you are not going to exercise. You need to get to the point where you feel as if the technique that you are using has always been with you. Good climbers don’t think too much about what they do, they just do it right and this is the art of climbing.

Before getting into how you can be a better climber, I would like to point out that I’m not any of the élite climbers, but I’ve been a beginner and I’ve gotten better, so let me help you prevent some mistakes that I’ve made when I started that I wish I could have avoided.

1. Use Your Feet

rock climbing

When we first start climbing, we tend to rely only on hand holds because they give us a false sense of security. We look for them first, then we drag our feet up. Unless you are very strong, this mechanism is counterproductive; it makes your arms very tired in no time and you will struggle to finish the wall. So the best advice I can give you, is to pay more attention to your feet than your hand. I know it’s hard, but it’s the only way to progress. Also, the best way to step on a foothold is by applying pressure on it with the big toe, that’s why it’s important to have the right climbing shoes (you can find all the information here).

2. Use Your Hips

rock climbing

Your entire body needs to move, not just your arms and legs, rotate the body as well when you are on a wall, that will help you especially for more dynamic moves. 

3. Fall

rock climbing

I know that it seems illogical, but we often don’t give our best while climbing because we are afraid of falling, and we end up being too careful. If you fall on purpose you will see that it’s not as terrible as you thought and you will climb with a lot more confidence.

4. Use The Wall

rock climbing

It is possible and sometimes useful to rely on the wall as a support for your feet, which when I started I thought it was impossible, but the more you climb the more you realize how using the wall really helps you. 

5. Don’t Fret

rock climbing

It’s normal wanting to get better, but like with any sport you need a certain degree of patience and training. In climbing, if you don’t get better slowly you risk injuries, especially on your fingertips if you grab small holds and the tendons in your fingers are not strong enough yet. This happened to a friend of mine that, due to a tendon injury, wasn’t able to climb for months, so in this case there’s a useful say: prevention is better than a cure!

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14 Comments on "How to Be a Better Climber (Beginners)"

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Mary
Guest

I’m a beginner and sometimes I’m afraid to fall… but I know it’s the only solution sometimes! :)))

Abhishek Goyal
Guest

Thanks for sharing these useful photos. Its very useful to know about these tips for climbing. For beginners it is very important to keep in mind these tricks.

Rae
Guest

Thanks for this post! I will be starting rock climbing at a gym soon so this couldn’t come at a better time 🙂

Rae
Mindful Rambles

Fabiola Rodriguez
Guest

Is there any way to build up strength in your fingers other than climbing?

Joaquim Miro
Guest

It’s crazy because every time I go climbing, I can’t help but grip onto the ledge as if my life depended on it. So I like how you mentioned that allowing yourself to fall is an important part of becoming a better climber!!

The Travel Ninjas
Guest

Thanks for these great tips. I have another one – lose excess weight. I recently did some climbing after a long break and the extra pounds made it a million times tougher.

Taiss TogetherInThailand
Guest

I’m not a climber but I have tried it a couple of times and I know exactly what you mean about making sure to use your feet! People do tend to focus on getting themselves up with just arm strength but pushing up with your legs is more productive. It’s a mental thing you have to get over.

WorldGlimpses
Guest

Not a climber myself, but I’m huge admirer of all those who are. Such a great skill! And furthermore, available to anyone determined enough to try. These are some great tips you have here, you sure got me rethinking about climbing. 😉

John
Guest

Great tips! I am very much a beginner, and falling is definitely one of my biggest fears. I really should practice falling and falling right.

PackYourBaguios
Guest

This goes to show you that technique is more important than strength. I want to become better at climbing! Pinning this for later.

Orsi
Guest

Oh what a coincidence! We just went to rock climbing last weekend and I did terrible haha I am an athlete so I thought ” I got this” but it turned out I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know existed. Thank you for this post, very informational, great advices!!!

Ami Bhat
Guest

I like that tip about falling. It does take the fear away from climbing. I know so cause I’ve experienced it myself. This is a very practical guide to climbing.

Micki
Guest

These are great tips! I’ve been rock climbing once, just up a beginner’s wall, but it was fun! I’d love to do it again.

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