Providing an individual focus to youth team members may be one of the toughest logistical challenges for team coaches. I was in Birmingham, Alabama over the weekend for a “Divisional Championship.” This particular Divisional Championship (in case you didn’t know) chooses the top 6 climbers (per age category) from the 7 most southeast states to head to Nationals July 11th-14th, 2019. I sometimes struggle with providing an individual focus to my kids, even as an individual-focused coach. That’s why competitions are so important to me – but probably NOT for the reason you’re thinking.

As all of my athletes know, I use competitions to reach out to and engage coaches I can learn from. There’s no better opportunity than a competition, and this weekend I had my eye set on pioneer of Bishop, CA Bouldering Wills Young – a gentleman who by all accounts has a lot of experience both climbing AND coaching.

A list of the presenters who you can engage at this year’s National Coaching Symposium just before Nationals

Wills Young now teaches the talented climbers of the Synergy Climbing Project along with his wife, the legend Lisa Rands who he helped train. While I got the sense that Wills’ words were meant for me and me alone he certainly suggested that part of what made him work so well with climbers was the rapport he develops with each of them at the individual level.

Providing motivation has its bedrock in a solid foundational relationship, and motivating a climber is an important initial step before an athlete will agree to take action on whatever crazy idea you have in store for them. But the content of that crazy plan is incredibly important. And where do we get the ideas? Earlier I said that there was no better place than a competition to speak with coaches and gather ideas, but a symposium of coaches is undoubtedly better.

The brochure for the Symposium

Idea finding is what I plan to discuss at this year’s USA Climbing National Coaching Symposium on July 9th and 10th. My focus will be to provide information from an individual perspective which can have an impact at a team level. I’ll provide everything from practical protocols I’ve found helpful, to case studies on specific kids, to information gathered from data and research.

I’m sure some people come to the Beta Angel Project and assume I get all of my ideas from research and science – that I provide an “evidence-based” coaching service based on peer-reviewed research. Unfortunately, we’re just not there yet (but let’s make a valiant effort, shall we?!). I generate ideas from a variety of sources – at this symposium I’ll begin to shed light on what those sources are, even as I hopefully gain new insight from the talented coaches who come to teach, listen, and engage.

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