If you are looking for a new sport to keep you in shape, have a good time and get the adrenaline flowing then bouldering might be just the thing to try. Or maybe you already tried it and got hooked immediately. In both cases, if you are new to climbing bouldering is the best option for you.
Here are 10 essential bouldering tips for beginners to get you started and keep you safe while having fun.
1. Get the right gear
Although you don’t need much to go bouldering, there are still several essential pieces of equipment that you will need before visiting the climbing gym. If you are not sure bouldering is for you there is always the option to use rentals on site. If you want to get serious, however, your best option is to get your own gear.
The most important piece of equipment you’ll need is a pair of beginner climbing shoes. If possible, go to a local store instead of ordering online. It is extremely important that the shoes fit well. The retailer may also advise you on which are the best shoes for you or have any other bouldering tips for beginners when it comes to equipment.
Other gear you’ll need is finger tape, chalk, a chalk bag, and a brush. If you are going to boulder outside you may also need to get a crash pad.
2. Don’t underestimate safety
If you have decided to go bouldering you have already given up safety equipment like ropes or harnesses. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore safety in general. Although you’re probably eager to get on the wall make sure you warm up first. Warming up will get your blood flowing into your muscles and prepare your body to produce the power you will need for the climb.
Good warm-up exercise would be to increase your heart rate before stretching. Skipping rope is a proven and quick way to do it but you could also go with running on the spot, jumping jacks, push-ups or any other cardio exercise you prefer. After you raise your pulse, make sure you stretch the different muscle groups.
To prevent general injuries you may as well want to cool down after your training session to help your body recover faster. For cooling down you may want to try light cardio or getting a massage.
3. Learn from the others
Keep in mind that at this point bouldering is not a competition so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice when you need one.
Climbers are usually social people. When you go to the gym don’t hesitate to talk to the regulars, they may have valuable bouldering tips for beginners to share with you. If you are not a very social person yourself you could just watch how the others climb to gain insight from their experience.
4. Get the lingo
Do you know what’s a problem, beta, crux? If not you may want to check some basic terms to be able to communicate with the others.
- Beta – advice on the best or easiest way to execute a move or to climb a problem;
- Crux – the hardest move or sequence of moves in a problem;
- Flash – getting through a problem from your first try after you have seen someone do it or have received some beta;
- On-sight – getting through a problem from your first try without seeing how it’s done or receiving any beta;
- Problem – a sequence of holds to lead you to the top of a boulder.
5. Everything is better with friends
Want some additional motivation? Find a friend willing to join you in your first bouldering attempts. If your friends are not such adrenaline fans you can always meet other people at the climbing gym.
Getting around people with the same passion and level of experience will help you advance faster. You could exchange information on what you have learned, compete against each other or simply have fun while you rest.
6. Use your legs
A common beginner mistake is to try to pull yourself with your arms only. Keep in mind that legs are usually a lot stronger. Use your arms for balance and support your weight on your legs and feet. While climbing, try to keep your hips as close to the wall as possible.
If you are new to climbing in general, ask the local trainers for advice. They are the ones to provide the most adequate bouldering tips for beginners. It will save you a lot of frustration. Most probably a lot of injuries too.
7. Take your time
Bouldering is a sport that requires a high amount of concentration. When you get to the actual climbing, don’t rush it. Take your time to secure your position or to look for the right way to continue.
8. Get out of your comfort zone
The best way to advance your skills is to keep challenging yourself. Don’t stick to a single wall just because you are good on it. Practice on all the different angles. Even if you think you are not ready for something, try it and work on your weaknesses. You might just surprise yourself.
9. Don’t be afraid to fall
Although you are not far off the ground there is still a possibility to get injured when falling. To avoid getting hurt, make sure the pads are clear before you start to climb. While you fall you should be wary of your surroundings but still try to relax so that your muscles are not stiff when landing.
At all times keep in mind that there is nothing bad with falling. Look around and you will see it’s just part of the practice. After you fall don’t give up and get ready to climb again.
10. Have fun
The most important one among all bouldering tips for beginners is Don’t forget to have fun! Don’t get frustrated or discouraged over the small failures. They are part of the training and should be used to motivate yourself to get better. Remember to enjoy yourself, maybe this is exactly why you started in the first place.