Preparing for the redpoint in sport climbing
Before the attempt
- Don't commit to a route that will lead to stress, like embarking on a four-day project with only four days left on your holiday.
- Consider your body and make sure that you are well-rested.
- Avoid strenuous tasks at home or at work before climbing, as it all makes a difference.
- Watch the weather forecast, and if the weather wil be better in three days instead of two, take an extra day's rest. Be aware of humidity, temperature and wind direction and their effect on the route.
- For long-term projects requiring lots of rest days, aim to include some variation as your overall fitness and stamina may go down. It's also important not to 'go stale on a route', plugging away day after day will probably lead to failure - through boredom.
- Don't rush, it won't go away. Stress will make you climb badly and use excess energy.
You probably have only three or four good goes in you
Ensure that you are physically prepared. Rest well. It's often difficult to gauge the rest required between redpoints, but you probably have only three or four good goes in you. If you plan on being at the crag for six hours, then separate your attempts sensibly and don't rush your climbing.
Wear enough clothes to keep warm and it's worth warming up with exercise and stretches for ten minutes or so before any attempt. Some short bouldering problems and a light jog should get the blood going. Visualise the moves again in your mind. For really bouldery routes, a few short, fingery problems will wake up the muscle and mental recruitment. (Be careful not to overdo it though - save some energy for the real thing).
Get your climbing gear on, perhaps even your lucky pants
Is the route ready? Brush all the holds and make sure all your quickdraws are the right length and facing the right way. Get your climbing gear on, perhaps even your lucky pants. Double tie your boots and double check the knot in your rope. You don't want to start wondering half way through the crux if you are tied in or not! Are you happy with your belayer? If not get a new one (be subtle). The same applies to your rope, harness, chalk bag or indeed anything that might be on your mind. It must be just you and the route.
Now it's time to get psyched. Pause before setting off and relax, just a few seconds makes a big difference to the way you climb. Some people like to give it a minute or so to ready themselves and begin breathing. Remember in the back of your mind that if you do fail you can have another go. Still, you have to really, really want it, but most important of all, enjoy it!
Steve is a professional climber and coach with a lifetime's experience under his belt. He is undoubtedly one of the best rock climbers in the world and has pioneered the hardest climbs in the UK including 'Overshadow' (9a+) and 'Mutation'. His climbing takes him around the world and, when back in the UK, is available for coaching - see his website
for more details.
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