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10 Tips for Beginners - Courtesy of the Arch Climbing

Choose your own path! When climbing indoors, the circuits and routes are carefully laid out for you to follow by our routesetters, but this doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself to them. Make up your own routes, add in an extra handhold or two to a route that is just too hard for you, or if you’re finding the footwork on a route too hard, use holds of any colour while sticking to just the one colour for your hands. As our friends at the Climbing Works say, Rule #1 there are no rules!

Comparing yourself with others is a waste of time It’s only natural to want to know how well you’re doing compared to others in the beginning, but don’t let yourself get suckered into losing motivation because someone just warmed up on your project route. Some of the climbers you’ll see have been doing this for a long time now. Besides, one of the most fun things about climbing is that there are so many variables involved everyone has their own superpower.

Training is overrated – it’s not about strength If you feel like you should be climbing V2 but just can’t hold on with your fingers, don’t worry – to misquote Finding Nemo: “Just keep climbing, just keep climbing.” All the strength you need, right up to the most elite levels, will come naturally and in the right order, just by climbing at your own level. You don’t need to train hard for it.

Don’t be a lone wolf, climb socially Even though bouldering is done without a belay partner holding the other end of a rope, it doesn’t mean that it is a solo activity! Climbing in a group of psyched people has been scientifically proven to double, treble the strength of everyone involved.* Not to mention that you can share techniques and generally enjoy yourself more. If you want to join in with a group of psyched people but don’t have any to hand, try our Adult improvers session

Don’t work, play Even though it is hard work, climbing is meant to be enjoyable no matter if you’re a beginner or a professional athlete. To do it right, all you have to do is to give it your all in the moment. No need to stress about performance, you’re not at work here.

No pain, more gain If there is one mind-set we would like to change, it would be the “No pain no gain” mind-set in climbers. Don’t get us wrong: you’re going to sweat, you will feel muscles you never knew you had, in places you never knew existed the morning after your first sessions, and your fingertips are going to feel like they’ve been sandblasted, but “No pain, no gain?” Not smart.

Be like water Climbing is a full body, functional movement workout. You’re not isolating your arms or sitting down on a stool while you pull on a weight. Alongside getting stronger and more flexible, you have to learn a whole new set of skills relating to balance, tension, body awareness and other ninja-like abilities. Come with an open mind and a willingness to experiment with unusual techniques. What you can do might surprise you.

Every day is a school day Even though babies can climb before they can walk, climbing movement is a lifelong learning process. There is no single climber who understands everything about climbing movement and can explain it all to you, you just need to get up and do it yourself, but you can also learn a lot by watching other more experienced climbers and asking them questions. (And us!)

Learn to read! If you’ve got this far we’ll assume you’re ok with your a-b-c? So what are we talking about? Reading routes from the ground before you start climbing is one of the most important skills you can learn in climbing. Stand in front of the route so you can see the holds, mime the hand moves in a sequence up until the finishing hold, and try to picture your body on the wall at the same time, seeing where your feet will go and what position your body will be in. Remember, lots of chalk on a hold from other climbers usually means it is a handhold, and almost no chalk but lots of black rubber marks means it is probably a foothold.

Vertigo Learning to fall and managing falls is as important a life skill, arguably more so, as learning to climb. You should be comfortable at any height on the bouldering wall, and aware of how you are going to fall if you let go with either hand or if your foot slips. If you are scared of the height, then don’t climb any higher, or try to make your climb easier (see beginners tip n.1) at the very least. The height should feel like a thrill, not a terror. Practice falling safely from different heights – if you don’t know how, take an Introduction lesson.

*not really, but it sure feels like it.

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