Researchers measure efficiency in different ways, and those measurements help them learn about climbing. For example, researchers use an “inertial measurement unit” to help them track spatial and time-based indicators of climbing efficiency. [i] Some of the most popular indicators of efficiency are:
- “jerk” or smooth functioning of the hips;
- the length and direction of the “path” of the climber up the wall which leads to a calculation for “entropy”, and;
- the ratio of immobility-to-mobility during a climb.
No single indicator works well in isolation since the indicators all have drawbacks[ii] and/or can be interpreted differently based on the “states” of a climber. Each of the indicators becomes better through additional practice on a route, but eventually they plateau. This plateau occurs quicker for better climbers. Suggestions:
- Self-Organization (SO) Repeaters: Encourage athletes to work routes multiple times. Recommend ~3-4 for more advanced climbers and up to ~10-12 for more beginner climbers. Injury note: be careful of repetitive overuse, and consider breaking up the repeats across different days.
- Hip Path and Jerkiness Repeats: use video analysis to make 1-3 suggestions about movement “complexity” such as excessive hip traveling, and up/down hip jerkiness.
- What is Success: Make success about increasing efficiency rather than topping out.
- Pre-Fatiguing:[iii] Promote efficiency while fatigued but be cognizant of how fatigue can degrade movement.
- Chain It: “Chain” one move into a second move, either by attempting to maintain quality while speeding up the postural regulation phase (see “Phases“), or “pre-positioning” into a move to require minimal movement between the two positions.
See other practical options:
Safety note: As with all experimental training, attempt to implement these ideas at your own risk.
[ii] Measuring Fluidity in Climbing by JL Croft, SM Vial, A. Walsh, and L. Seifert