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Original Post
David Fogel · · Lake Forest, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 1,210

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Dylan Colon · · Eugene, OR · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 340

Matching is not always a good idea, but not necessarily for the reasons your friend stated.

In the gym, there are lots of good, large, holds which are easy to match, and you are right that it is often easier to match while passing one hand from the other than to reach past a locked-off hand for a much longer individual move. So a move in which you match holds will probably be easier.

That said, if you are not matching holds, the number of moves you have to do might be cut in as much as half, saving some energy in the long term. You said you noticed you match less on routes outside, presumably on individual moves much less close to your limit. If you watch videos of elite climbers on 5.14 and beyond, you will also notice a relative lack of matching.

Because bouldering is so short, you are penalized less for matching in terms of the added fatigue.

Now let me argue why you should maybe try to match less bouldering anyway. As I mentioned above, each individual move will be more powerful if you avoid matching, but this will therefore give you more training value, making you stronger in the long term. Trying to match less will also force you to plan sequences more carefully, which can be a really good skill to practice in the controlled environment in the gym. Finally, as you move upwards through the grades, holds get smaller and opportunities to match become relatively rarer and more draining when they do happen. You will be much better prepared for that challenge if you train yourself to only match when absolutely necessary on easier stuff.

So yeah, both of your friends are right, and it kind of depends on the situation whether you are saving energy by matching/not matching, but in most cases not matching can have some good training benefits, if that matters to you.

mountainhick · · Black Hawk, CO · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 120

OK, so you are referring to both hands on the same hold as matching.

Different options in different situations. Match whenever it is more efficient or energy saving. Don't when it's not. A few contrived thoughts:

-It's the only hold in a long distance and large enough to match, Hell yes, match

-Moving off the hold would be a strenuous one arm pull unless you match and pull with both arms. Hell yes, match. Same with foot holds. Lifting with both legs together is more energy efficient than one leg at a time (One arm vs two arm pullup, one leg vs two leg squat)

-If matching allows a needed rest and recovery, sure, match.

-It's an easy pull through to another higher hold... more efficient to not match and follow through. Don't match.

-It's too small to reasonably match on and there's another hold to use, no, don't match, use the other hold

-What is the rest of you body doing in relation to the holds? Sometimes, matching will allow you to set up your feet and body position to make the next move. Sometimes it hinders.

No black or white answer, it depends on the hold layout and your particular choreography.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Yeah, it's hard to say "don't ever match," as it's obviously very situational, but in general terms matching is usually less efficient and often occurs due to a botched/inefficient sequence. Matching too much is a common mistake in bouldering; maybe your friend pointed it out because you were doing this in a specifically inefficient way?Height plays a big role as well; shorter people often need to match more often due to shorter reach but are compensated by smaller hands, making it easier to match on smaller holds.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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