Alphabet of movement in climbing

Alphabet of movement in climbing

People often ask me, what is the difference between 6a or 7a route and usually I say that in general the holds are smaller, the moves are harder and the rests are worst. But this is actually quite an interesting topic since we all understand that you should become stronger, more durable, better focused and climb more efficient if you want to progress.

And important part of being efficient is being able to move properly to use as little energy on the route as you can – and eventually you can climb harder.

So let’s focus on efficient movement of the body during climbing. I call this thing “the alphabet of climbing”.

Explaining this as simple as I can would be; when you start climbing, your moves are focused towards next hold and how to pull yourself over. Than you listen to your coach or friend, watch other climbers and you see some different moves you haven’t seen before. On your next go you try to add them and you realize that those moves makes your climb much easier and smarter. Eventually even harder moves you try to do on some routes become easier and you progress in your climbing without even getting stronger.

And this is what’s happening later in your climbing as well. You learn new moves almost every day when you climb a new routes – specially on the rock. And this can be very beneficial for your climbing since your alphabet of movement become wider and you are able to use the moves at any time when you have them “in the blood”.

So to get better in your climbing alphabet, you would hear alot of people tell you that you should just climb more and you will be fine. And this is partly true BUT, you should also consider some other options.

Here are some beneficial options for extending your moving alphabet in climbing:

  • Climb routes of different type ( slab, overhang, vertical, climbing corners,.).
  • Climb different rock types ( go to different climbing areas in your country or even further, choose different type of rock and style of climbing, don’t focus so much on the grade but on other mentioned aspects of climbing as well).
  • To progress, you should climb the routes that you are not so excited about (usually when we are not good in some style of climbing, we tend to skip it all the time, so it is kind of important that we climb also styles that don’t suits us that much).
  • Climb onsight as much as you can.
  • Climb with people who are better than you, so you can learn from them.


Here is the result of broad climbing alphabet by Adam Ondra, onsight 9a! 

Also good and useful way of having fun in progress is to climb with different climbers. That rule apply also in other aspects of life. I am talking about the law of 33%.

That means that 33% of time you should climb with people who are better than you. That way you learn from them and they “pull” you up to think and climb harder. Other 33% of your time you should climb with people who are in the same level of climbing as you are. Here you will feel the best and you can climb and train together, since your goals are usually similar. And the last 33% you should climb with climbers who climb on easier level than you. Here you will feel you are already a good climber, you can help them with advices and show them some simpler moves or climbes and in meanwhile you are reminding yourself on basics and also you feel better about yourself and get motivated even stronger.

I think all three types of climbers are important to progress with joy and having fun, because let’s face it – this is why we climb! It is also cool for socializing part of climbing.  I am saying this because we all know that in some point we lose inspiration or we don’t have that much energy for climbing and I think this is also the reason why. Experiment and try new things to explore yourself and find best options for you.

But you have to try first, otherwise you don’t have the right to judge. 🙂