1 February 2010
Recent days coaching in big bouldering walls reminded me of a potential specificity problem of using these for training for outdoor hard problems and routes. I think a good proportion of those training indoors with a view to climbing harder outdoors get that grabbing big rounded sloper blobs the whole time creates a problem with missing out on gains on the fingery holds you find outdoors. But I’m finding that even the small holds that are about right now, tend to be quite big! I don’t mean big in the sense that they are easy to hold onto. I mean that even the really poor holds have quite a pronounced profile and are fairly pinchable.
There are even more effects at play when it comes to the feet. Indoor holds are often very rounded and sloping on top. Using them develops a good skill for maintaining contact with the feet, using continuous and carefully directed force application to the foothold. But the technique required to use tiny but positive footholds (like you commonly find outdoors) is subtly different in the way strength is applied using the lower body, foot and toes. The pattern of foot movements outdoors is different too, and habitual indoor climbers often lack ability in foot swaps, matches etc..
All of this means that if you are using big modern climbing centres to train for outdoor climbing, make sure you get enough diet of positive but really quite small fingery holds by seeking them out diligently at the wall.