Why I Got a Climbing Coach

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Why I Got a Climbing Coach

In December of 2019, I sat to the right of Coach Jess West. She was nice enough to drive me to the airport after a day of bouldering at Stone Fort in Chattanooga.

We talked a lot. As we discussed the ins and outs of becoming a climbing coach, then she said something that really surprised me “Coaches need coaches.”

I was really shocked that she had said this. I mean, if you have the knowledge as a climbing coach, wouldn’t you just coach yourself? Isn’t getting someone else to coach you sort of like admitting defeat? That you don’t know everything? At that point in time, I had really thought coaches trained themselves – that they didn’t need any extra help. 

Of course these thoughts were ridiculous. Since then, I have realized that the role of a coach is so much more than to provide technical expertise. A coach provides an outside perspective, support, and external accountability when you have goals that need achieving. So naturally, a coach can certainly have a coach.

Blind Spots

That December in Chattanooga, I attended the Empowered event with Power Company Climbing. It was a three day intensive put on to help self-coached climbers learn more about programming their own training.

At one point in the seminar, we were discussing scheduling of our training. “How many days in a row can I train?”, “Should I hangboard before climbing or after climbing?” – those types of questions.

Eventually, Kris started workshopping people’s schedules on a whiteboard to give some examples. I raised my hand to get some feedback on what I had been doing.

I then recited what had been doing the past few months. Which had yielded good results mind you – I broke into 5.12 in 2019 and managed to complete six of them in various styles that year.

Designing Myself a Deficit

Then all the coaches gave me a funny look. And I had this instantaneous realization that the way I had been training had perfectly predicted the results of my assessment – I had lots of endurance and strong fingers, but I lacked power.

As someone who takes great care in coaching myself, I was stunned that I had overlooked some major flaws in how I was training. For example, I was only bouldering to do limit-level moves about once per week. To top it off, in the mornings before my evening bouldering sessions, I was doing 15-20 low-level endurance routes. Of course I had developed a power problem – I was too fatigued to have a quality boulder session after that volume in the morning.

Time for a Change

It took me discussing my training out loud with others to realize that I had designed myself into a power deficit. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this coming.

I knew right then that what I did last year certainly wasn’t going to work this year. Thankfully with some guidance, I gained clarity on what needed to change to get myself headed in the right direction.  

I tell you this to highlight that none of us are immune to overlooking our weaknesses, biases, and preferences. No matter how much we think we know – sometimes what we really need is the perspective of someone else.

Pony Up

With that, I am thrilled to say that I am working with a coach leading up the fall climbing season. I’m working with Power Company coach, Blake Cash. I have some big objectives that I want to tackle this fall and I know that getting some help will shift the odds further in my favor. Investing in myself only makes me more committed to accomplishing what I want to do. I don’t have time to mess around.

And since I am spending a lot of time writing plans for others, having support with my own training is absolutely invaluable. I am so glad I invested in some help.

So there you have it. Whether you’re an athlete or a coach, you can benefit from external support. If you know you need some help to live your dreams and crush your project, then stop waiting around. Go get the help you know you need!

What is the biggest thing you struggle with in your climbing right now? Let me know below!

If you’d like to gain some insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a climber, check out my climbing theme song quiz! While it’s definitely a good time, it shines a light onto the aspects of your training and climbing that might be holding you back and keeping you in a plateau. And once you get your result, I’ll also send you some tips and tricks to help your training and climbing more effective and efficient!

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