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Better Technique Through the Science of Motor Learning

Greetings, fellow climbers and curious adventurers! Today, I'd like to share some fascinating insights about the science of motor learning and how it can help us improve our climbing performance.

Motor learning is the process by which our brains learn to control movements. It's a complex process involving changes in neural circuits and the way information is processed by the brain. In recent years, there has been growing interest in how motor learning can be applied to sports performance, including climbing. So, what does this mean for us climbers?

Well, for starters, it means that deliberate practice is key. Deliberate practice involves intentionally practicing specific skills in a structured way, with a focus on improving performance. This might involve working on specific techniques like footwork or dynamic movements, in a systematic and deliberate way. By practicing these skills in a focused and intentional way, climbers can improve their ability to execute these movements in a more automatic and efficient manner.

An example:

1. Bloc Mastery - Climbing the same bloc multiple times to really dial in on the specific challenges that it poses. Especially if that style, hold type or movement often challenges you.

But it's not just about practicing in isolation. Motor learning research has highlighted the importance of transfer, or the ability to apply skills learned in one context to a different context. In climbing, this might involve practicing specific techniques on a variety of different routes or types of climbing, in order to improve the ability to apply those techniques in a range of situations.

Additionally, transfer can also involve the ability to apply skills learned in climbing to other activities or sports, such as callisthenics or dancing.

Feedback and variability are also crucial elements in motor learning. Feedback is essential for helping climbers to understand how well they are executing specific movements or techniques, and to make adjustments to improve their performance. This can be done via simply recording and analysing yourself, asking for a peers perspective or gaining a coaches expertise.

Variability in practice, such as practicing on different types of climbs or in different environments, can help climbers to develop a more adaptable and flexible approach to climbing. This applies to both an indoor and outdoor context. Indoor due to the variables around route setting styles and hold availability. Whilst the clear variation between rock types outdoors is a great way to bring about variability in this domain.

So there you have it, fellow climbers. Motor learning research has highlighted the importance of deliberate practice, transfer, feedback, and variability in practice for improving climbing performance. By applying these principles in a systematic and structured way, climbers can improve their ability to execute specific movements and techniques, and to apply these skills in a range of contexts. So get out there and climb, but don't forget to practice intentionally, seek feedback, and embrace variability in your training.

Happy climbing!

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