This weekend, climbers representing universities from all over the nation will compete in the Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS) National Championships. Climbers compete in all disciplines of sport, bouldering, and speed climbing. This year, we get the privilege of sponsoring the speed national championship with the 2013 edition of our Twin Dolphin Timing competitive system.
A little bit ago, we got the chance to interview John Myrick, the CCS Director and previous USA Climbing Speed coach. He gave some fantastic insight into the upcoming CCS Nationals, and what climbers can do to train specifically for speed climbing in the Sport Climbing Series just underway.
Years climbing: About 33 years
Years coaching: 14
Team/gym you coach for: Team ARG (Austin Rock Gym) & The University of Texas
What gets you excited about speed climbing?
Speed Climbing takes a tremendous amount of poise and physical ability to excel at. If you give it a serious try you will realize that it’s a legitimate discipline and [that] training specifically for speed climbing [will not only] help you be a better speed climber, it will also help your bouldering and sport climbing.
Would you mind expanding on the vision of CCS and where you would like to see it in 5 years?
The vision for the CCS is pretty simple: to see climbing become solidified as a collegiate sport. I’d say we are well on our way to accomplishing that. Some of the main hopes I have are to see more resources become available for the athletes such as more scholarships, better facilities, more research done specifically on climbing which will help coaches, and more support for climbing in general due to increased exposure at the collegiate level. Another vision I have is… to widen racial diversity and socio-economic diversity in our sport.
Climbing is mainly an individual sport. How can teammates help each other succeed?
Your individual goals become important for the entire team not just yourself. When you are training in a team environment you can push yourself way beyond what you would be able to do on your own. When a motivated group sets a goal and works hard to achieve that goal, the outcome can truly be amazing. I think one of the things we are all most proud of about our sport is the positive atmosphere and encouraging energy we have at our competitions.
CCS nationals combines all three disciplines of sport, bouldering, and speed climbing. How should climbers divide their training time?
Nationals does include all three disciplines so you have to have a well-rounded team. I recommend spending the Fall, pre-season focusing more on power and bouldering along with strength and conditioning and cross training. During the Competition season I recommend putting more emphasis on stamina/routes as well as ramping up your speed training. You also have to focus more on onsighting, strategy and the mental game.
What is your overall practice structure for a speed training session? It is better to focus on speed or technique?
In my opinion training for speed climbing has three main components: developing your technique, conditioning and then polishing your skills for maximum performance. When you are developing your technique, it’s mainly a matter of getting used to going fast, getting your hand eye and foot coordination down. Developing the agility, body control and mental acuity takes a good deal of practice. Next, you have to build the power, explosiveness and stamina required to be good at speed climbing. Finally, if you are preparing for competing on the Standardized World Record Route you have to spend time a lot of time perfecting your sequence. Each of these components require a lot of repetition. It all boils down to muscle memory.
How can gyms support their own athletes at a local level?
The best thing the gyms can do is to support the teams and the coaches. Holding comps for your region gets the community more into supporting the cause, plus it helps your staff get better at setting. Investing in training for your setters, investing in new holds and training apparatus helps immensely. Doing these types of things for a gym can be a time stress and financial burden, but I think the positive ramifications the investments will have on your gym over the long run are immeasurable.
Thanks, John! We will be updating everyone on how CCS Nationals goes. Thanks for all your ongoing support.
Happy Speed Climbing!