Reflective Practice In Climbing

Reflective Practice in Climbing article by Paul Jackson Head Coach at Jurassic Climbing Academy
Ok, so my name is Paul Jackson and I am the head coach at Jurassic Climbing Academy. In this article I am going to discuss Reflective Practice in Climbing and its important roll in climbing progression.


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Many of you won’t have heard of this term before, but I guarantee that you will have used it both in your personal and work life at some time.

How many times have you said or done something and looked back afterwards and thought how well or badly it went, then thought about how you could have improved things. Well that is Reflective Practice. An example could be at work where you have to deal with a difficult person, you could carry on with things how they are. But more likely you will mull the situation over, try to understand it better and then try out a new approach. If that doesn’t work you mull it some more and try a different approach and a different approach and on and on until the problem is solved. Either that or you find yourself unemployed for beating the other person to a pulp!

But seriously, what is Reflective Practice? Reflective Practice is a way of learning from past experiences that is then used to improve performance.

Now doesn’t that sound just right to fit into our climbing progression and indeed it does. So lets now consider our climbing and how Reflective Practice can help make us to become a better climber. Take this scenario.

We have been climbing for 3 years and have steadily risen through the grades to an on-sight grade of French 6a and a red-point grade of French 6b+, but have been stuck at this level for the last year with no progression. Have been told by our super duper climbing mates that it’s our lack of endurance, lack of strength, etc, etc. We have tried putting these things right, but nothing has really worked and we are going around in circles and getting more and more despondent! Now believe it or not that is the average grade point that British climbers get stuck at and get stuck at forever. Oh, by the way, continental climbers don’t get stuck there, but thats another story!


Now lets bring in Reflective Practice to mix and instead of just sitting at our forever grade try and find out what the problem is, how we might improve it, put these improvements into action and then review the outcome.

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There are three steps to our Reflective Practice in Climbing:

1. We think about our climbing and write down the good and bad points such as I don’t like going above the clip, great at small crimps, rubbish at slopers, I run out of energy half way up a route and have to go on the rope, you get the idea. But it is imperative that you are totally open with your answers, its the only way. From this you will have drawn up a list of what needs improving in your climbing and can concentrate on those areas.

2. We plan and do the training. Now it is time to explore how you are going to improve these areas. You may go it alone and there is plenty of material in the form of books and on-line at the Jurassic Climbing Academy website or you may decide that you want more direct help with your training and employ the services of a coach such as myself. You also need to decide on how you are going to get feedback from your new training strategy, this could be as simple as a noticed grade increase, your peers comments on your improvement, before and after video or from your coach if you employed one.

3. We reflect on our climbing. Look at what you now know about your climbing now, what have you learnt, after my training what am I now good at and where am I still lacking and need the training to continue, what other ares of my climbing need improvement.

So there you have the three steps of reflective practice in climbing. Of course once you have completed them you will need to once again reflect on your improved climbing with reflective practice to improve further. And so reflective practice becomes cyclic!

Well thats it, give reflective practice in climbing a try and see how it works for you, then please come back to us with your results and feedback. If you need any help with your reflective practice, training plans or coaching then please go to our website at where you will find loads of advice and other help available.

If you like what you have read in this article then make sure you check us out some more at, on Facebook, just search for Jurassic Climbing Academy, that should take you straight there, and on Twitter use the handle @jurassicclimb.

Good climbing!



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