One of the reasons climbing is a great sport for adults is the accessibility to competition. Many of us grow up competing in various sports, but as we grow up, we stop competing. Luckily, many gyms have competitions a handful of times throughout the year, with different ability categories and sick prizes. This even gives the newer climbers the ability to win gear from a competition! Every competition is different when it comes to the organization, the rules, and the format, but there are similarities between every style of competition. Whether you are a veteran competitor or preparing for your first climbing comp, here are four strategies to climb to your fullest potential!
The first and most important is managing your time. The “Redpoint” format is the most common format. Redpoint format is when every competitor is competing and climbing during the same three to four-hour chunk of time on the same boulders. The boulders will range in difficulty, and there will likely be certain boulders designated to each competing category. (Ex: beginner, intermediate, advanced, open). You will typically be trying to climb the hardest boulders you can, and the only ones that will count towards your score are the top 3-5 highest-scoring boulders you complete.
In a competition format like this, you must manage your time well in order to yield the best results. Three to four hours is a long time to be climbing at your maximum ability, and it’s easy to get burnt out before your session is over. Let’s highlight the two ways to manage your time in the best way possible.
Maximize Your Ability
The first is maximizing your ability. Because you will likely be trying boulders harder than you normally climb in hopes to top and get the highest points you possibly can, there is still a strategy in topping easier boulders first. It’s easy to get sucked into the hard boulders, trying over and over again, and then realize you have 20 minutes left in the competition and you only have one or two boulders topped. In these scenarios, the competitor is typically too exhausted to top easier boulders that they might have been able to flash for points at the beginning of the competition.
So, before you start diving headfirst into boulders that are typically out of your ability level, first run through onsight-level boulders (boulders you are confident you can top on the first try) to make sure you have points on the board. Then start trying really hard on the harder stuff, with hopes of racking up more points.
Secondly, make sure you REST. The competition atmosphere is electric, and you might feel as if everyone is buzzing around, climbing as fast as they can. But in reality, climbing as fast as you can is a horrible tactic. Without taking long rests, you will burn out halfway through the allotted climbing time. If you give a really hard attempt, it’s suggested to rest at least 5-10 minutes before giving another really hard attempt. If you don’t give your body time like this to recover, you will end up giving another attempt and most likely be too tired to make progress. Repeating this pattern will break your body down quickly, and you’ll feel too exhausted to climb anything within an hour or so. After all, you wouldn’t try to max your deadlift every couple of minutes!
Bring Snacks and Water
The last tip is going to sound simple, but maybe the most important: bring snacks and lots of water! Three to four hours is a very long time to be exerting yourself to your maximum ability. You will be burning so much energy, and if you don’t have a plan to replenish that energy, you will start to feel burnt out before the time is up. A few symptoms of not having enough fuel in your body while exercising are feeling tired, shaky, nauseous, and low energy. Ideally, you want to eat something before these symptoms arise, but if you begin to feel any of these, it’s a good time to take a long break and eat a snack. The same goes for water. Make sure you are drinking more water than you think you need, and your body will thank you by crushing it!