Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Footwork Is SOOO Yesterday...

Perfect temperatures...mid 50's, partly sunny, no wind. I could have been sending my dream projects. Instead I drove 4 hours roundtrip to a youth comp in a GYM in the middle of OHIO. Where? A gym. In Ohio. Yes, I know. I call my team "Shortbus" for a reason. I obviously drive the squatty little fucker.
ANYWAY... while I was there watching 84 or so young humans who don't have the first clue who John Gill or Ron Kauk are, more or less Muir or Salathe, I found myself paying attention. Ok, maybe not. I didn't actually need to pay attention to notice the complete lack of footwork and body positioning in todays young climbers. "Complete" might be an exaggeration. There were at least 6 climbers there who had a clue.
Now, I help train several people, including my 11 year old daughter. I push footwork and balanced body positions like a steroid dealer in a major league baseball locker room. I yell more about feet than anything else, except maybe people saying "Take!" on redpoint attempts. In fact, I'd be willing to say that my 11 year old, and a guy I'm training who's been climbing less than a year, have better footwork than 90% of the kids in this comp. These kids weren't all 12... many were 16-18.
I saw the same scenario over and over and over... strong kid with steel tendons ignores a backstep, stays frontal, and throws to a crimp. He manages to stick it, control the swing he created because his foot was off the wall long before he hit the handhold, even though the footchip is at about knee level. He nearly kicks a hole in the wall, apparently trying to knock the foothold off the wall in retaliation for it not letting him stand on it. Then, unarmed with the knowledge of how to match feet, flag, and reach while in control, He throws the OPPOSITE way that he's pushing, doing a tasmanian spin off the jug he just did a 2 foot dyno to. I admire the desire to make things more difficult while in the gym... but this is a little ridiculous.
I blame it 100% on the "coaches" (and I use that word VERY lightly). I heard so many coaches say "NICE!! Great job!", or "Way to go for it!". Bullshit. "Terrible! That sucked!". "Way to look like you were having convulsions in the air!" "Nice job denigrating the entire beauty of this sport!" I mean, I realize that some of these kids are 9 or 10... and in those cases the coaches should be flogged. Now, I don't yell at my daughter that way... because I don't need to. I taught her early on to stand on small feet. Not to constantly readjust feet. She learned balance, how to match, how to backstep, how to dropknee. Dropknee? Yes, its still legal. However, you wouldn't know it to watch a youth comp.
Kaitlynn won today, pretty handily. She won't win them all, and she's cool with that. She's proud of where she's at... and so am I. What I'm most proud of is that the skills she's displaying will make her a better rockclimber... indoors, outdoors, wherever... and one that looks like she knows what she's doing. If the rest of these kids continue to listen to their "coaches", then Kaitlynn will look even better.
And I swear to Jim Bridwell, if I ever hear another 12 year old kid say "So how hard do you climb?", I'll.....


badash said...

love this. I totally agree.

I compete in comps and I see this constantly.

pretty ridiculous, eh!?

Good job to kaitlynn. Thats SO awesome! Keeeep it up!

t said...

nice post. why do you suppose coaches reinforce terrible climbing? i'm curious. i mean, if i were taking time out of my schedule to train kids and go to comps i'd sure as hell make sure i did it right.

Odub said...

I agree, t. When I tell my daughter there might be a better way, which she is always receptive to because she wants to improve, all the parents glare at me like I'm the devil. I think that people have been programmed with this "positive reinforcement" crap, even though what they're doing is far from reinforcing anything positive. That, and parents get riled up when a coach isn't "nice" to their kid...even when the coach is right. I asked my daughter if she wanted to be on the local team, and she said "I don't want my technique to go away"!!

Lydia said...

I think the positive reinforcement from trying hard and being able to change and adapt is exactly what a kid needs. If parents encouraged more of this, frustration wouldn't be so much of an issue.