Category Archives: Coaching Skills

Hot Rock Climbing Holidays in Spain

In conjunction with the site owners other business Sunnier Climbs,  How to Climb Harder is hitting the road this winter in an effort to get some winter hot rock climbing holidays in Spain. So if you want to experience some sunshine rather than the winter blues then join us on one of our Spanish Hot Rock Climbing Holidays.

We have several bases for our winter Hot Rock Holidays. All of which we have thoroughly tested over the last few year and have been chosen because they have amazing climbing and great weather.

What’s included with the Hot Rock Climbing Holidays in Spain?

Our courses are staffed by Mark Reeves the author of How To Climb Harder and highly experience climbing coach. The ratio is a max of 1 to 2. Meaning you will not only be guided around the best areas but get great coaching.  All our courses include transport from as little as £800 for seven days. 

Picos De Europa Climbing Adventure Holiday

This Picos De Europa Climbing Holiday is a great way to experience the best trad and sport climbing in this magical region of Northern Spain.

The Picos De Europa is an amazing place to climb, the area has some spectacular limestone crags with a variety of single and multi pitch sport climbing as well as some amazing trad routes in the Higher Picos. The main peak a gigantic limestone dome is ‘Naranga Del Bulnes’ and as well as having some harder routes also sports one of the most staggering Hard Severe routes in the world. The South Face climbs all the way to its amazing summit.

The North Face of Naranja Del Bulnes, one of the dos impressive peaks in Spain. With some of the most amazing routes from HS to E4+.
The North Face of Naranja Del Bulnes, one of the dos impressive peaks in Spain. With some of the most amazing routes from HS to E4+.

This is a holiday with the emphasis on fun, enjoyment and above all living a little adventurously. We can cater for anybody from beginners right through to experience climbers looking beyond the coast blanca for a sun rock holiday.

Click Here to find out more…about the Picos De Europa Climbing Adventure 

Madrid Granite Hot Rock Holiday and Coaching Course

The climbing around Madrid is one of Spain’s hidden gems. With granite slab and crags resembling Yosemite’s Touloumne Meadows. As such it will be unlike any hot rock sport climbing holiday you have ever been on.

Based out of the picturesque Miraflores on the edge of the region Park of Pedriza we have a wealth of different areas to climb on in the area. Three are based on the granite cliffs around Pedraza, Valdemanco and La Cabrara, which offer fantastic friction slabs, cracks and corners. From simple single pitch climbs to exciting multi-pitch routes to the summits of Granite Domes.

An amazing Granite cornering La Pedriza, near Madrid. Truly the Touloumne Meadows of Europe.
An amazing Granite cornering La Pedriza, near Madrid. Truly the Touloumne Meadows of Europe.

Just out of the mountains is La Patones, a pocketed limestone venue set in a picturesque valley with vertical climbing on often good but spaced holds.

This variety means that we will get to experience a whole array of different climbing on both granite and limestone. If you want to find out more about the rock climbing then Mark Reeves has written a mini guide to Madrid  for RockFax.

Click Here to find out more…about the Madrid Granite Hot Rock Holiday

Chodes and Calcena Hot Rock Holidays and Coaching Courses

Chodes was one of the first areas bolted in Spain for Sports Climbing. As such it makes a great place for a climbing holiday away from the crowds. A 5th and 6th-grade climbers paradise, Chodes and Calcenca offer a great variety of climbing in what are fair compact areas.

Two hours east of Madrid just outside Zaragoza is the Morata del Jalon valley, where you find the amazing climbing area of Chodes. This offers highly technical climbing which will hone your technique and footwork.

Amazing technical climbing in Chodes will help you hone your technique and make you a better climber.
Amazing technical climbing in Chodes will help you hone your technique and make you a better climber.

Where as a 30km drive up the road is Calcena, which has recently been redeveloped. So there are loads of fresh climb on a variety of different limestone type. Including some fun routes up small towers.

Ti find out more about the climbing here, then Mark reeves has written a mini guide to Chodes for Rockfax

Click Here to find out more…about the Chodes and Calcena Hot Rock Holiday

Costa Blanca Hot Rock Holidays and Coaching Courses

Come and join us as we bask in the winter sun on our amazing 7 day Costa Blanca Sports Climbing Holiday.

Winter is rapidly approaching you have resigned yourself to a winter of indoor climbing. Why is that? Alicante is often only £50 return to fly to, it is sunny and warm throughout the winter and we are running sport climbing holidays there. What more could you ask for to wash away those winter blue by feeling the sun on you skin.

There is literally something for everyone in Costa Blanca, and quite often all at the same crag. Another great place to get a tan whilst you climb.
There is literally something for everyone in Costa Blanca, and quite often all at the same crag. Another great place to get a tan whilst you climb.

The Costa Blanca is one of the original winter hot rock destination, situated just north of Alicante the area is cheap to get to and has an amazing variety of classic sport climbing routes and destinations. This is the reason we have chosen to run our climbing courses from here over the winter as they will suit anyone from the F4/VDiff leader to someone trying to break through into the 7th grade.

We are based around the sea side town of Calpe, which is nestled below the amazing Penon D’ifach. This is a great location from which to be based as it is close to the centre of the Northern region of the Costa Blanca best climbing. This allows us easy access Sella, Toix, Echo Valley, Alcalali, Olta, Gandia and Guadalest.

Click Here to find out more…about the Costa Blanca Hot Rock Climbing Holiday.

Links to Holidays


How To Climb Harder

Do you dream of pushing your grade and climbing harder then we offer a fabulous course for you. Our How to Climb Harder course uses a holistic approach to improve your technique, tactics, confidence and mental approach to climbing. We find this delivers repeatable and longterm results to your climbing. There is even a How to Climb Harder book to go with the course.

Our How to Climb Harder course runs over 2 days and will make a real difference to how you climb. Helping you be more relaxed and climb with better technique and improved tactics, meaning you will be much more efficient. It will also help re-energising your drive to get out there and enjoy yourself on the rock. More often than not you will also break into harder climbs.

Our How to Climb Harder course involves movement coaching of rock climbing techniques on both boulder problems and rock climbs. We also cover the tactical approach to leading a rock climb, as well as the psychological skills that will help you improve how you feel lead climbing.

In essence, we cover the Technical, Tactical, Physical and Psychological aspects of rock climbing performance. Looking to make small gains in each area, will have a major impact on your climbing.

How To Climb Harder Course

Day 1

  • Fundamental Technique Workshop
    • Footwork
    • Balance, Body Position and Efficient Movement
    • Hand Holds
  • Gear Placement Workshop
  • Basic Tactical Climbing
  • Leading a route within Limit
    • Isolating individual mistakes
    • Personalised feedback
  • Steep Rock Workshop

Day 2

  • Mental Skills Workshop
    • Relaxation
    • Anxiety Management
    • Imagery
    • Self-talk
    • Confidence
  • Training Workshop
    • Strength
    • Stamina
    • Strength Endurance
  • Putting it altogether on difficult lead
  • Creating a plan for the future
  • Course review


  • April 7, 2018
  • July 21, 2018

Cost: £250 – To Book visit Snowdonia Mountain Guides.

More Rock Climbing Courses

Private Rock Climbing Coaching

Lead Climbing Coaching Courses – North Wales

1 Month UK Trad Climbing Tour

Costa Blanca Sports Climbing Coaching Holidays




Rock Climbing Courses

How to Climb Harder’s author runs many rock climbing courses through his other business Snowdonia Mountain Guides Courses. Where he offers everything from beginners courses in Trad Climbing right the way through to Performance Climbing Coaching. However he also offers a two day How to Climb Harder course that looks holistically at all aspects of climbing from the mental, physical, tactical and technical challenges we all face.

The course is run by Mark Reeves who has over twenty years experience as a rock climbing instructor and coach. He holds the nationally recognised Mountain Instructor Award and has a Master degree in applied sport science in which he studied Effective Coaching, Sports Psychology and Performance Physiology. He has onsighted climbs up to E6 and 7b and still climbs and trains regularly.  He used all this experience to write How to Climb Harder and now is using it to deliver a unique course that will find and address your weaknesses and help you climb harder.

How To Climb Harder – Next Courses

Our Next course are available throughout the winter in Spain, see our Hot Rock Holidays. Alternative if there are two or more of you we can run a course to meet your needs at a date to suit you. Discounts available for larger groups.

Starting at the end of October at destinations to suit your needs.

Cost: £800 a week (Inc. Accommodation and Transport)- To Book visit Snowdonia Mountain Guides.

More Rock Climbing Courses throughout the year


Lead Climbing Coaching Courses – North Wales

1 Month UK Trad Climbing Tour

Costa Blanca Sports Climbing Coaching Holidays




Drill Boards: Drop Knee and Flagging


The use of these drills boards has help many climbers start to develop a better understanding of climbing on steep rock. Although you can develop one for the rock over it is the tricky techniques of the drop knee, inner flag and outer flag that this drill boards really helps.

For most climbers the first time they use a drill board they struggle with the pattern of movement. In that they can often get the beginning or the end position but it is the transition from one to the other that become the problem.

It is this ability for a climber to repeat many different combinations and permutations of the movements need in order to get the underlying fundamental principles dialled in.

As such whilst know what a drop knee, inner and outer flag are is great this exercise really helps you get to grips with the body positions needs to make the transitions smooth and effective.


Private Coaching Course

Our sister site snowdonia mountain guides runs private coaching courses that are specifically aimed at getting you to a higher level in all aspects of climbing. We can focus on indoor or outdoor technique and training. Covering skills like in the drill boards above.

Alternatively maybe consider a How To Climb Harder Course.

eMail us to find out more.




One of the more basic climbing movements (which you will have worked out for yourself no doubt) – how to transfer your weight from one foot to the next. Be awarene of your centre of gravity (usually around your belly button). The key is to rock your weight from one foot to the other fairly quickly and hit the next point of balance before moving on.


An everyday action like getting out of a seat requires rocking our weight from one point of balance to the next – a ‘rock-over’.

Rock-over exercises

Standing on the floor, raise your foot onto a bench and bounce up onto this foot. You have just performed a rock-over. This can be done with your hands at rst, but eventually you should be able to manage it without by gauging the amount of force needed to just arrive in balance. Too much and you fall over the foot you are rocking onto, too little and you end up back on the foot you started from.

Move onto a higher bench or a table, remembering to use both feet.


Rocking over onto a bench.
Rocking over onto a bench.

Try the move on a slabby wall, rocking up onto a foothold. Emphasise a dynamic and speedy movement to a point of balance. Visualise the next point of balance as your belly button or head moving to directly over the foot you are about to rock-over onto.

Rock over onto a slab
Rock over onto a slab

Now link a series of moves from foot to foot, each time concentrating on that point of balance.

Rocking over from standing on the floor,
a quick movement to re-establish yourself on a balanced position stood on the next hold, with the climbers belly button directly
in line with the foot.

You can demonstrate the shift of you centre of gravity from one foot to the other with a water bottle or weight hung from a belt in the small of your back (roughly where your centre of gravity normally is). The plumbline will hang directly over the foot you are balanced on.

Using a Plumbline to visual the point of balance.
Using a Plumbline to visual the point of balance.

The plumbline helps you visualise when you have reach a point of balance, when the weight is directly over the foot.

Try all this blindfolded (or just close your eyes) .You will need to rely on your sense of balance, rather than vision.

Advanced rock-over exercises

With well developed exibility you can attempt to place your foot beside your hand into a rock-over. This high stepping rock-over is particularly useful for the short, as well as on hard slabs. This will place strain on your groin, so build up slowly.

A high stepping rock over, where you match hand and foot before rocking over.

Stand side on when making the move and you will be able to step through onto the outside edge of your foot. Alternate stepping though with both your left and right foot to zig-zag upward.

Stepping through whilst rocking over
Stepping through whilst rocking over

Rock over tips

  • Move uidly, carried by momentum, between one foot and the other.
  • Hands can help you initiate and stop movement.
  • Concentrate on coming to rest on on one foot in balance.
  • Stand side on.
  • Pivot from facing one way to the other as you alternate the in which direction you headed.

Advance Climbing Technique

It’s time to combine and develop your techniques – to work your way up between places of rest and conserve as much energy as possible on the way. This section includes further exercises on technique, with the idea to hone your skills and increase efficiency.

There are also sections of the Tactic and Mental Approach to rock climbing. These are there to further develop your resilience to climbing harder.

Links to Subjects in the Section


Hands Off Rests

Learning to climb with efficiency is all about saving energy. So finding a hands off rests or a little respite is a key component of good climbing technique. A hands of rest is a place where we can recover from a tricky section and shake out the lactic acid from our arms and even legs, but also a place to plan the next section of climbing from.

In the video above we cover several different type of rest, the first thing to do is practice them in isolation so you can recall them. The next step is to see what shape the wall/rock needs to be for you to get the rest. This ability to identify rests from below will give you islands of safety and rest to aim for.

Once you get to the rest remember to take a deep sooth breathe, this can help calm you down if on lead. As the rest can help you regain a composed and relaxed manner, as well as giving a physical rest. You might also be able to add to this relaxing feeling by placing gear from these restful positions when trad climbing.

Finally use the rests to plan the next section of a climb. Whether be a plan to get to the  next runner or rest. The rest or respites become a tactical component of your climbing, but essentially they are all just simple techniques based on the ability to identify the rest and use it.



Coordination: Mind to Body Warm Up

As you are warming ups, doing some pulse raising exercise you can add in some co-ordination exercises. These will focus your concentration on kinesthesia (your sense of movement), proprio- ception (sense of space) and balance. We can effectively turn on the part of the brain that we use for learning and acquiring new skills.

In the long term, these types of coordination exercises can become second nature, it is in the context of the learning to learn that these exercises will benefit you for the first few sessions that you use this book.

Coordination exercises

  1. Balance on one foot and move upper body and other limb to counter balance each other.
  2. Rub tummy, pat head whilst balancing on one foot. Put the other foot forwards, left, right and back.
  3. Rotate arms in opposite directions whilst walking around then change your direction of travel.
  4. Basic Juggling, then move to see if you can do it on one leg?
  5. Rotate your right foot in a clockwise direction and then with your right hand write a number six in the air.
  6. Run on the spot with your legs going in slow motion and your arms as fast as possible and vice versa.
  7. If there are three of you tried the human plait or some gymnastic multi person balances. (see video below)
  8. Various Yoga poses 

Video of German Climbing team warm ups with coordination exercises

The video below show various routines that the german climbing team have used over the years to warm up. Many are fun and require a high level of coordination and look more like acrobatics than climbing.

Coaches Notes

This warming up people coordination is extremely important when we are teaching people new physical skills. As it helps them to access the right part of the brain for learning.



How We Learn

Consider how you learn skills which require hand-eye coordination, movement and balance. How did you gained the skills you have like driving a car or riding a pushbike? When you first learnt these skills, they required concentration as well as co-ordination. In the filing cabinet of your mind the instructions for driving were put on file, opened and added to every time you drove. As you progressed things became easier and easier. A few years down the line you have so much practice tucked under your belt that your program file for driving no longer needs your conscious attention at all.

The passage from conscious to unconscious participation is illustrated in the learning curve – the further along that curve, the closer you are to reaching your upper limits of performance.


After trying something for the first time we seem to become worse before we get better. At some point we aren’t as good at a sport as we initially thought. It is at this point of conscious realisation that we can start to piece together what we are doing wrong and make a decision to improve. The pathways we can take to improvement can be a through an informed or an uninformed route.

Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes per- fect – Dr John Fazey

To take driving, most people have lessons (informed) to be taught how to pass the test, but we also gain experience with friends or relatives (uninformed). The informed progression keeps us heading in the right direction (toward becoming legally safe to drive), but it is often the other experiences and extensive practice that really helps us develop.

It takes around one hundred repetitions of a movement to develop muscle memory (unconscious ability) of that specific move. Furthermore, driving or climbing are more than just one or two basic movements. They require you to interact with the real world and to know which techniques to pull from your toolbox for any situation.

It is possible to learn how to drive in an empty car park, but the real skill of driving is learning how to interact with other road users, pedestrians, rain, etc. Likewise in climbing it good to know a series of key movement skills, but it is the ability to pick the right one at the right time that is important. This is the competence that we are aiming to develop, something which might well take ten years or ten thousand hours of practice before you reach your highest level.

To learn a new movement skill we repeat a series of muscular movements and get feedback. After many repititions we lay down movement memory and our nervous system is conditioned to just how hard, fast and long the muscle has to contract or relax. With experience we will have more movement vocabulary to call upon and the more frequently we use them the closer to the front of our ‘ ling cabinet’ the movements will be.

CPD learning spiral

Left to develop these skills on your own can lead to bad technique or lead you down dead ends. The exercises on this site will help to combat this and help you to ‘listen to’ your body as you climb. Efficient climbing comes down to making the right move at the right time, and whilst there are no hard and fast rules, by learning to feel how hard a move is it becomes easier to make improvements to save energy.

Learning isn’t just about trying new things it also requires feedback. What have you learnt? Why you have learnt it? How does that lesson fit into the bigger picture?

In its simplest form the process is Plan – Do – Review. Planning is reading the exercises, watching the videos, looking at the diagrams and thinking about what you are about to do. Doing is the easy part, in doing the exercises our brains are learning things about our bodies and the movement. Review is when we ask ourselves what we have just learnt, good or bad, how we could improve and perhaps where to go next. It is important to allow yourself some time to review your session and review your planned progress.

Bear in mind three things when you practive; try to learn only one thing at a time; keep things simple; discover things for yourself in your own time. Most people can only take on board five to nine pieces of information (7±2 chunks of information) before there is too much information to process.

As part of learning a new skill consider the experience you already have. A gymnast or black belt may not have climbed much rock but they will be be quick to learn because they have learnt to feel their body, they have methods for learning new skills and they have developed balance, flexibility and proprioception. As a climber you bring a vast amount of prior learning to the learning cycle, some of which may be bad technique which will need to be undone. No two people will be the same.

In order for our practice to be most effective for long term learning the practice needs to be varied and random. Don’t train at the same spot on the same things again and again, mix it up in different locations and situations. And by moving location you give yourself some down time from the exercise to process that new information.

Constant repetition during practice will give quick results during your session, but the lessons learnt will fade without breaks to consolidate and think about what you have just done. It is important to take breaks from practice even if it is simply resting whilst a friend climbs, or doing another exercise helping you to forget what you were just trying to learn. This allows you to later recall, reconstruct or even elaborate on the skill you were learning.

Practice needs to be bi-lateral, both left and right or climbing both up and down – variety is the key. Motor skills can be quite specific to each limb (think of kicking a football or riding a snowboard regular or goofy) and varied movement gives greater diversity to our practice and in the long term that vital movement vocabulary.

Learning Summary

  • Focus on Efficient and Effective Practive
  • Start by repeating skill in isolation
  • Move onto repeating the skill is a random and varied
  • Allow yourself a break to think and forget about the skill before trying it again.
  • Practice things bilaterally (Left/Right, Up/Down)
  • Focus on the perfecting the process rather than outcome of a climb.
  • Use your warm-up at the start of your session to remind you of what you learnt last time.