I love onsighting or flashing a route. Trying something new gives me a sensation of adventure, and when I succeed and achieve my goal, I feel proud, I feel empowered. Sounds great, right?
The challenge with pushing myself into unknown territory and harder routes can be intimidating, sometimes even scary, and this is when I start overgripping. Sometimes I even climb arms bent, locking off as much as I can.
This is about fear.
Climbing, climbing and more climbing, and Adam Ondra's advice - to diversify our climbing meters: try everything, go everywhere locally, climb indoors and outdoors - helps us to build confidence and become better climbers, with a perfect grip.
A few things we can work on:
- building trust with our belayer,
- taking falls,
- develop more foot, leg, ham, core, upper body, shoulder, arm, contact strength,
- climbing strategy and planning, techniques and moves,
- direction of pulling/loading holds,
- using mainly the strength of our feet and legs when we climb,
- trusting our foot placements on tiny tiny footholds (wearing smaller and more aggressive shoes makes a big difference!),
- balance, also to spread our effort evenly across our entire body,
- resting technique and strategy, during a climb, and between climbs and days of climbing
- being present in the now, being aware of our body, our space, of our breathing,
- meditate, trying to relax our mind, trying to climb without thinking,
- being in a flow state: feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment.
This list is far from complete. Well developed and integrated, our climbing becomes smoother, applying the right amount of gripping.
Being more confident in my climbing also helps me in my decision making while I venture into new and challenging routes.
How can we avoid overgripping and practice to find our gripping sweet spot? In reference to Alli Rainey's Blog Series "Move of the Month", here are some suggestions:
Practice no. 1: Relax your lower grip each time, you reached a target hold with your upper hand.
Practice no. 2: Try to relax both hands and grips. Practice on the bouldering wall and low to the ground above a thick bouldering mat. Try to relax to a point where you can let go off the wall to figure out your gripping sweet spot: the smallest amount of grip needed to keep your body safely on the wall. Try on different type of holds, from slabs to overhangs. Again stay low and close to the bouldering mat! Don't hurt yourself!
You can also indoor practice on top-rope, strictly following the safety protocol and requirements at your climbing gym!
Practice no. 3: Depending on the type of hand-holds on your climb (e.g. pinches, crimps, slopers, pockets), direct your attention and relax specific fingers/group of fingers, hands and arm muscles. For example with pinches, we put a lot of stress on our thumbs.
Shaking out hands and fingers after each grip (birdflaps), letting your arm hang down in a good resting position or when holding on to a big jug, switching hands, trying to jam a body part instead of gripping a hold are some examples to relax stressed fingers, hands and arms.