Bouldering Tips from An Expert
Molly Thompson Smith is a teenage bouldering and lead climbing champion. At age 16 she had earned a number one ranking internationally in her age group. Now 19, Molly's combination of skill and strength remains a force to be reckoned with. Below are some of her top tips for beginner climbers.
Tip 1: Warming Up
Molly's first bouldering tip involves preparing the mind and body. She recommends both dynamic and static stretching to get the blood flowing and the muscles ready. When hitting the bouldering wall, Molly suggests starting easy. By working through a range of movements and a variety of holds during a warm-up, the body gets primed for the workout ahead.
Tip 2: Body Basics
Getting the most out of your body is an important element of bouldering. Using a combination of both legs and arms is best, rather than over using one or the other. Molly recommends keeping your arms straight. This means you're more likely to use your skeletal strength and not your muscles, thus preserving valuable energy.
Keeping your hips close to the wall is another useful bouldering tip. This ensures your next hold is not too far from your reach. Having your hips close to the wall also allows you to use your feet more efficiently on the foot holds placing less strain on your arms.
Molly also suggests using a drop knee where possible. This involves twisting your hips in towards the wall which helps maximise your next reach.
Tip 3: Grips and Holds
When bouldering you'll come across a range of different hold types and shapes. The easiest of the hold types is called a 'jug'. Jugs are bigger holds that allow you to get most of your hand into.
Another type of hold is called a 'pinch'. A pinch is used by squeezing the hold between the thumb and fingers. This can place considerable strain on the fingers and arm muscles.
One of the smaller holds is called a 'crimp'. This hold only typically accommodates the tips of your fingers and should be used wisely given the stress it places on the fingers.
Tip 4: Footwork Fundamentals
Using your legs and feet are important parts of bouldering because it can reduce the strain on your arms. Precision when using your feet is important and Molly recommends taking your time to get your foot positioning right. Toes should be employed to achieve this accuracy rather than other parts of the feet.
Two advanced foot maneuvers are called the heel hook and the toe hook. The heel hook involves placing the heel on the hold and pushing the foot and toes down to get stability and power. The toe hook involves using the tops of your toes as a balance mechanism, which helps keeps you close to the wall and, when executed correctly, can take your weight and help prevent tiring out your arms.
If you're starting out in bouldering, keep Molly's tips at the front of your mind. Before you get started, it's also a good idea to get some basic training to help prevent injury and pick up the sport quicker.