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Helping my wife with technique


Original Post
Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

My wife and I started bouldering around June this year. As newcomers, we started out on V1's. Due to my height and natural strength, I was quicker to move onto V2's, but my wife wasn't far behind. However, I've been watching videos and reading about techniques. And I am now able to climb a few V4's with a V5 project in the mix, while my wife still hasn't sent a V3. She still loves to go to the gym, but I think she's getting annoyed that she isn't make quicker progress. She seems to think that I find harder climbs easier because I am taller and stronger (which probably has something to due with it), but I think it has more to due with my use of different techniques instead of just trying to muscle up a problem.

I've been trying to show her some of the moves I do, but I was wondering about any advice you guy would have

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,480

Maybe try to get her into a technique class aimed for intermediate level climbers. I've seen significant others trying to give beta/teaching technique backfire more times than I've seen it be successful.

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300

My sense is that you're just more into it than she is, and you should let her find her own way.

If you're talking about progressing from V2 to V3 indoors (outside, whole other ballgame), unless your gym is really different from most, you're talking about fairly easy climbing.

But I think gym V3 is frequently an inflection point where you really start to bear down a little bit and get uncomfortable for a move or two. She may not want to push herself in that way: I know that for a really long time (decades), I wanted to be comfortable and in total control on every climb I did, which turns out not to be too compatible with growing as a climber (or much of anything else). It took a lot of wasted time to realize that that discomfort is where all the action is.

At this point there are just so many resources, from books to coaches (online and off) to videos to classes at gyms offering routes to improvement. The fact that she's not pursuing those totally obvious opportunities (which you've found and are using) is a red flag saying that she's doing it the way she wants to, either because she's happy with her current level (very possible!), or she's unwilling to stretch herself in terms of physical or mental (ego, fear, etc) discomfort.

Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45
Jake Jones wrote:Maybe try to get her into a technique class aimed for intermediate level climbers. I've seen significant others trying to give beta/teaching technique backfire more times than I've seen it be successful.
Your entering very DANGEROUS terrain if you try to coach your wife. I've had plenty of problems with this. If you don't want to get her in a class then have her make some female friends to climb with.
dirtbag · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 105
Whatever you do, don't be the typical douchebag boyfriend/husband doing her cruxes in slow motion while explaining your technique and smoking a cigarette at the same time.

I suggest leading by silent example: compile a list of technique exercise from Anderson's book "Rock Climbers Training Manual" and let her see you working on them. (side note: those technique exercises will do incredible things for almost all climbers' technique).

Moreover, after 10 years of climbing with my wife and observing other couples climb with each other, I can say with 100% certainty that you are best to keep your mouth shut unless she asks for specific beta/help/advise on climbing, unless it's a safety thing, you are reassuring her she has an attentive belay/spot, or you are certain your words of encouragement actually encourage her. This is much easier said than done, believe me!
Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 268

Tons of experience teaching skiing but never would I "teach" my wife. I would like my marriage to stay intact. I show her drills I do, answer questions when asked, in this way I have been able to help her. Unlike skiing, I am totally unqualified to teach climbing and sounds like the same for you so I wouldn't even go near that.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 551
Eric K wrote: then have her make some female friends to climb with.
Yes, do this. She needs to own the climbing, make it her thing. If you try to "teach" or "coach" her one of both of these things will happen

1) She will hate climbing

2) She will hate you
SMarsh · · NY, NY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 3

Rick and C have made a very good point. And read Dirtbag's last paragraph.

We wives don't all enjoy being coached by our husbands.

I am a wife. I climb. My husband climbs.

So, I hear your statement about superior strength and height and I actually agree with your wife. Why? Because some of those "techniques" require strength. And experience. And sometimes even height.

My husband is 6 inches taller, almost. He's much stronger.

I compensate by using balance and flexibility. I need intermediate foot holds or tiny hand holds to help me.

So how I do a climb is often not how he does it.

I benefit from watching him, but not so often from his verbal coaching.

I benefit much more from watching other women climbers. My best day at the Gunks long ago was a day when Lynn Hill was teaching someone to climb Brat. I learned so much from watching her.

Clue: I cannot reach the bomber hold my husband reaches, and I've got to find a way to maneuver my body up there. Your wife needs to find her own level of motivation and her own balance / center.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 290

So, be patient for a moment, this is a real crux issue between males and females (parents and kids, too), so I am about to blatantly put words and intent on you, that I am confident you don't mean.

First, you've asked 12,000 strangers how you can fix your wife.

Oh boy. Thank you, honey, that made me feel really good. Did I ASK you to do that? How is it that you think it's okay to speak for me? Is it now okay for me to ask everyone we know about that little problem you had last weekend?

Second, if she just learned stuff I know, she'd be much better. Like me.

Uh, don't think so. Maybe if you are actually a good, patient, gifted coach and climbing instructor, for real, maybe...

Third, this move is easy, just do it like this...

Hey, a-hole, in case you haven't noticed, I'm working on this my way. Your way wouldn't work for me anyway, and a whole lot of what I love about climbing is the body mind puzzle.

You get the idea, I'm sure. Guys (a wild generalization) tend to want to Fix The Problem. Fine by me, if the sinks stopped up and I can't get it myself. Apply that to me? Hmmmm...what message are you giving someone you love?

Super short answer, like others said, just get her in the gym with others, without you there. You could probably benefit from getting out with somebody wickedly stronger than yourself, too.

Hope this is taken as it's meant! Flagrantly overstated, because, ya know, I really like you guys, but sometimes you are clueless. Does a friend say something?

Best, Helen

Been with my not so clueless guy 40 years now!

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 268
SMarsh wrote:Why? Because some of those "techniques" require strength. And experience. And sometimes even height.
In the gym I learn way more from female climbers. I have finished bouldering problems by thrutching my way to the finish only to see a female climber come along and do the same climb more efficiently. I then re-try the climb using their moves and learn.
BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340
Rick Blair wrote: In the gym I learn way more from female climbers. I have finished bouldering problems by thrutching my way to the finish only to see a female climber come along and do the same climb more efficiently. I then re-try the climb using their moves and learn.
SAME!
Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35
Rick Blair wrote: In the gym I learn way more from female climbers. I have finished bouldering problems by thrutching my way to the finish only to see a female climber come along and do the same climb more efficiently. I then re-try the climb using their moves and learn.
This happens to me all the time. I am the weak climber in my group.

Baba,
Its been said may times here. Just enjoy the time you guys are climbing together. She will get there if she really wants to. Ive also found that our local gyms tend to set pretty powerful and gymnastic problems. I think it's the way the indoor game is moving.
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 83
Old lady H wrote:So, be patient for a moment, this is a real crux issue between males and females (parents and kids, too), so I am about to blatantly put words and intent on you, that I am confident you don't mean. First, you've asked 12,000 strangers how you can fix your wife. Oh boy. Thank you, honey, that made me feel really good. Did I ASK you to do that? How is it that you think it's okay to speak for me? Is it now okay for me to ask everyone we know about that little problem you had last weekend? Second, if she just learned stuff I know, she'd be much better. Like me. Uh, don't think so. Maybe if you are actually a good, patient, gifted coach and climbing instructor, for real, maybe... Third, this move is easy, just do it like this... Hey, a-hole, in case you haven't noticed, I'm working on this my way. Your way wouldn't work for me anyway, and a whole lot of what I love about climbing is the body mind puzzle. You get the idea, I'm sure. Guys (a wild generalization) tend to want to Fix The Problem. Fine by me, if the sinks stopped up and I can't get it myself. Apply that to me? Hmmmm...what message are you giving someone you love? Super short answer, like others said, just get her in the gym with others, without you there. You could probably benefit from getting out with somebody wickedly stronger than yourself, too. Hope this is taken as it's meant! Flagrantly overstated, because, ya know, I really like you guys, but sometimes you are clueless. Does a friend say something? Best, Helen Been with my not so clueless guy 40 years now!
Helen, hyperbole & generalization are probably going to hurt your cause on this one...

To the OP (whom I agree never said he wants to "fix his wife", and who I assume has actually confirmed with his wife that she wants his help with learning technique):

In spite of the various warnings about teaching your SO, my girlfriend seems to appreciate it when I share a technique that will help her make a move if she wants the information from me at that moment.

I can usually tell when she's getting frustrated at working a move, and after watching her fall off for a while I might ask politely "Do you want a suggestion?". Because I generally encourage her (and everyone else) to figure things out on her own, I don't have a problem with her saying "No, I want to figure it out myself", and as far as I know she doesn't have a problem saying that. If she says "yes", I offer some ideas about technique. Sometimes my ideas don't work, but they lead her into figuring out something that does work for her. Sometimes her solution even works better for me than my "technique" did.

We both know she's rapidly approaching the point where she'll be rope-gunning me up routes...
Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Kent Richards wrote: To the OP (whom I agree never said he wants to "fix his wife", and who I assume has actually confirmed with his wife that she wants his help with learning technique):
That'd be nice, but I suspect not, based on how this is worded:

Baba Fats wrote: She still loves to go to the gym, but I think she's getting annoyed that she isn't make quicker progress. She seems to think that I find harder climbs easier because I am taller and stronger (which probably has something to due with it), but I think it has more to due with my use of different techniques instead of just trying to muscle up a problem. I've been trying to show her some of the moves I do, but I was wondering about any advice you guy would have
A lot of responses are saying things along the lines of don't try to coach, teach, or "fix" your wife. I kinda have to agree, because this attitude

Eric K wrote: Your entering very DANGEROUS terrain if you try to coach your wife. I've had plenty of problems with this. If you don't want to get her in a class then have her make some female friends to climb with.
(don't intend to pick on Eric specifically, just a convenient example)

^because this attitude has you as the person doing and your wife as the object being done to. (in a grammatical sense, obviously your wife is not an object and I know you don't think so either!)

If she is motivated to take a class, she will take a class. If she is motivated to climb with female partners, she will do so. As long as you are not actively standing in the way of her doing any of these things to improve, I'd say just let it be. Climb with her, support her climbing on her own or with others, indoors or out, encourage her in everything she tries. Save the advice, etc for when it is specifically asked for. And remember, if your body types and strengths are very different (as you suggest when you say you are much taller stronger), then your beta is likely largely useless to her.

On the other hand, if she specifically asked you "honey, would you please go on MP and ask everyone how you can help me get stronger?" then that is a different story. And perhaps a good response to that would be "I'd be happy to, but if you're interested I encourage you to go on MP yourself and ask for advice"

If she were to ask my advice, I'd say that in my own (very limited, not much of a gym climber) experience, that climbing on rock is much friendlier to body size/shape, strength, and style differences as there are many more possible holds and ways to move through cruxes as opposed to the largely contrived "orange tape only" gym routes, largely set by males, who tend to be taller/longer/more upper body strength. If she is getting frustrated by powerful reachy boulder problems in the gym, she may find she enjoys a different style more. Climbing is a personal thing and it's ok if it looks different for everyone.

All that said, this is one of those times where I feel I have a very clear idea in my head of what I'm trying to get across but am struggling to find the right words, so please read with an open mind and trust that any offense is unintentional.
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 290

Hey, my post said it was intentionally way over the top. Apologies if that bugs anyone.

Honestly, like a lot of you, I really love being able to watch others working climbs. For a while at our gym, we even had identical twins who were very different in how the moves worked for them!

OP, what has super helped me is others having confidence in my abilities (often much more than I do), being supportive and cheering me on. I have climbed pretty hard (for me) stuff this way.

"I know you can do this! Finish the route, and I'll buy you ice cream!" Got me up a 10b. Lol!

Truly, do have fun! Helen

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

I take it all back. Helen is right again. Ice cream.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 290

So, Em is the polite response, mine, perhaps harsher, but still said with love, I hope. Thus us truly hard for guys to sometimes get, and is totally unintentional.

Women haven't helped, sometimes, by playing princess. I know it's muddy, but, as I said in fun above, try to put your brain in pause for a moment if I am getting approached or thought of similarly to a backed up sink or flat tire.

Best, Helen

Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45
Em Cos wrote: ^because this attitude has you as the person doing and your wife as the object being done to. (in a grammatical sense, obviously your wife is not an object and I know you don't think so either!
I totally agree, early morning commenting means poor word structure which does not accuatly display what I want to get accross. The point I was trying to make is that a relationship is not always the best framework to allow good coaching, your just too close. My wife wants me to coach her but she gets mad at me whenever I try. It takes someone from the outside to provide useful critic she wants to listen to.

Like others have said, if she wants to improve she will, just have fun together and dont get in her way.

Eric
Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Eric K wrote: if she wants to improve she will, just have fun together and dont get in her way. Eric
Well said. Sums it up perfectly. :)
aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294

Shoot video of your wife climbing a problem, and shoot a video of a better climber (may not be you, in fact probably better if it's not you) doing the same problem. Then you can both watch and analyze what she is doing differently, and maybe learn from it.

D-Storm · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 295

To the OP, people have asked what kind of boulder problems you and your wife are trying (gym or outside?), but I'd go one step further and ask what style in general does your wife naturally excel at, even the least bit—slab, vert, steep, etc.? Knowing that can give her a better sense of confidence to build from.

My wife doesn't trust her feet when it comes to smearing on blank (slabby) rock, but she has excellent balance and flexibility—vertical routes are great. She knows that to improve she needs to get better at trusting smears (friction), and/or build more strength/endurance for steep rock.

Good luck! And I'll emphasize that if there's ever a question of opening your mouth, don't, unless she asks.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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