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  • Writer's pictureSportrock

5 Tips for (Friendly) Competition Climbing

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

Open Nationals Speed Finals | Sportrock | 2019
Open Nationals Speed Finals | Sportrock | 2019

Our community is famously supportive of these types of events. Instead of feeling like a competition, it feels more like a big group of friends cheering for each other in an extra-hype climbing session. Even if the stakes are low, that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to climb your best. Climbing competitions are an excellent place to track your progress, and even if it’s laid back, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition! We’ve put together some tips to help you perform your best when adrenaline and stoke are extra high.


Your warm-up is going to be crucial to your success at a friendly climbing competition. Your number one enemy is the flash pump. A flash pump occurs when a climber does not incrementally increase their climbing intensity and instead jumps right on the hard stuff. This causes an intense lactic acid build-up. Climbers that have experienced a flash pump before know that it usually means that your climbing day is over. This can be avoided by giving in to the high energy of the competition right away. Step aside, stretch, and maybe even traverse for at least 20 minutes. If you think it will be difficult to escape the crowds, try arriving early or warming up in the parking lot!

Climb With a Buddy

A great way to push yourself at a friendly climbing competition is to work problems with a climbing buddy at your skill level. Not only can you push each other to climb harder, but you can hold one another accountable for resting. When you climb alone, it is easy to skip rests, especially when you are super close to finishing a challenging climb. A good climbing buddy will step in and make sure you rest properly before your next attempt.

Make a Plan

At the start of a climbing competition, you will likely receive a scorecard with a list of all of the climbs. The number of new climbs can be overwhelming, but if you make a plan, you can narrow the number of problems you will try down to a reasonable amount. For example, there are 50 boulder problems in an indoor competition and you need to record 5 on your scorecard. You are competing in the intermediate category, which includes problems 20-30. You feel you may be able to try the upper end of the intermediate problems and even some advanced problems. After your warm-up:

  1. Plan to try numbers 25, 27, and 29 depending on the problems’ styles.

  2. If these go down in a couple of tries, give 30 and 31 a try. r

  3. If 27 and 29 give you difficulty, start working backwards.

 This brings us to the next tip!

Try Things That are Too Hard for You

A climbing competition is a perfect opportunity to climb something that you otherwise may not try. Almost every problem will have several people working on it, so you can figure out the beta together. Also, the energy of a crowd cheering you on may be what you need to pull moves that are usually too difficult.

Take Regular Breaks

Finally, make sure you take regular breaks throughout the day. Oftentimes climbing competitions are an all-day affair. And while it may be tempting to climb for five straight hours, you need to schedule breaks to ensure that you have the energy to climb all day. If a competition is from 12-5 pm, set an alarm on your phone to eat a snack at 2:30 pm and make sure you and your buddy are resting in between attempts. A good rule of thumb for rest is to grade yourself on your attempts and rest accordingly. If you tried your hardest, 10/10, then give yourself a full 10 minutes of rest. If your foot slipped on the first move and you barely pulled on, 1/10, then only take a minute of rest. This will ensure that you are fresh for each attempt.

If you follow these five tips, not only will you have a blast at your next friendly climbing competition, but you will be able to climb your strongest!


Get more tips on Climbing Competitions: How to Progress from Beginner to Intermediate.

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