Sunday, October 08, 2006

Categorisation

Was down the wall the other day and couldn’t help but notice climbers obsession with categorising peoples performance. E.g. “he has terrible technique” or pity “he’s so weak”. I am all in favour of bitching about people I just think people give others a blanket category, like strong with no technique, and then see this as the reason for their every failure. This isn’t really important except that I think it can slow the categorised’s improvement.
For instance Malcolm has been classed as being weak but with awesome technique. I think this can lead to one of three scenarios. Scenario A: Malcolm wants to be seen as good when down the wall so spends his whole time doing problems which require very little strength and so doesn’t get stronger, instead he becomes weaker. Scenario B: he feels less of a man for what he sees as people picking on him for not being butch. He spends his whole time playing on the campus board and lifting weights which alter his technique adversely. Scenario C: Malcolm is unaffected by the bully’s comments and continues to work on a whole range of styles.
Furthermore being strong or technical implies a climber with no obvious weaknesses in that area which is very rare. There are many facets to technique for climbing. A typically technical problem might be a crimpy slab. But burly roofs require a different technique altogether. Basic dynos between edges up the 45 require coordination and precision. Even when going footless a lot of strength can be saved with the right technique and swing of the hips. Some people are good with sequences while others can get a lot of weight on to their feet. Having one does not mean you have the other. Malcolm A, who spends his whole time on slabs, is skinny but can still do 10 pull ups yet he doesn’t get up easy roof problems because he doesn’t know how to move on steepness.
Similarly butch Bob is a thug. But he crimps everything and is struggling with a problem on two finger pockets. Surely it’s his technique? Quite possibly he isn’t moving right but if he was strong open handed he’d cruise the problem.
An article by Jerry Moffatt about perfomance profiling can be found at http://www.cragx.com/articles/issue16/profile/index.htm.

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