Learning Strategic Concept 2: Enhancing Exploration by Manipulating Climbing “Constraints”

Research > Experimental Training > Converting Research to Practice > Learning Strategic Concept 2: Enhancing Exploration by manipulating climbing “constraints”

Exploration can be further influenced (see “Explore”) by manipulating the “constraints” associated with climbing.  Constraints aren’t necessarily good or bad, but imposing them or “relaxing” them helps us explore the crazy amount of options that are possible for our bodies to get into.

Constraints can be hard to manipulate, like individual (motivation, weight, etc.) constraints and environmental (gravity, temperature, socio-cultural, etc.) constraints. Or they can be easy-(ish) to manipulate, like task constraints (e.g. goals of the task, rules of the game, equipment, etc.). Manipulating or “relaxing” those constraints can facilitate learning. You have the option of using either direct or indirect relaxing: such as increasing the number of options which can satisfy the goal in the case of the former, or suppressing a habitual action in the case of the latter.[i] Suggestions:

  1. Explore by Phase: encourage exploratory behavior during specific states: (a) while they are immobile (e.g. searching), (b) during postural regulation of their body (e.g. their hips are moving but their limbs are not), and/or (c) what they are doing when their limbs are moving (e.g. grabbing a hold or placing a foot).[ii]
  2. Spatial-Temporal Repeats: Focus first on the spatial attributes (e.g. route pathway), and second on the temporal attributes (e.g. timing of chained movements).[iii] Spatial-temporal efficiency is important to performance.
  3. Same Move, New Approach: promote multiple, dissimilar solutions for the same target hold, called system degeneracy.[iv] Improving the quantity of movement solutions may increase the likelihood of creative behavior (based on the individual’s interaction with the environment).

See other practical options:

Safety note: As with all experimental training, attempt to implement these ideas at your own risk.


[i] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robert_Hristovski/publication/50303424_Constraints-induced_Emergence_of_Functional_Novelty_in_Complex_Neurobiological_Systems_A_Basis_for_Creativity_in_Sport/links/09e414fa03bfbe8247000000/Constraints-induced-Emergence-of-Functional-Novelty-in-Complex-Neurobiological-Systems-A-Basis-for-Creativity-in-Sport.pdf

[ii] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176306&type=printable

[iii] “What current research tells us about skill acquisition in climbing” by D. Orth, C. Button, K. Davids, and L. Seifert

[iv] “Creative Motor Actions as Emerging from Movement Variability” by D. Orth, J. van der Kamp, D. Memmert and GJP Savelsbergh