Tip 12: Finding Balance

By Justin Stirrett

Climbing Tip: Keeping in Balance

Have you ever failed on a climb around six number grades below what you normally climb? Well, the other day I got schooled on such a climb! But thankfully for my ego’s sake, some other really talented climbers also got schooled. At the end of the day we all managed to pull past the crux (ten feet off the ground) and cruised the last thirty feet of hardest 5.7 we have every climbed!

What was it that shut down 5.13 climbers on a 5.7 climb? Balance! Needed for a simple slab with no hands and bad feet. It got under my skin so much that for the next week I got on that climb every day. Only one day did I pull it my first try, most days it took me at least three tries to put together the moves. Why could I not stay in balance and how do you train for that?

When I first start climbing 25 years ago, climbing was all about foot work and balance. As climbing grew it became much more about power. People still talked about foot work and how important it is to climbing well, but few people talked about balance anymore. Most climbers are more concerned with upper body strength than they are about their balance. I know I was.

Thinking about our feet and body position does not come naturally to most of us, but gripping with everything we have does. So how do we switch our minds from our hands to the rest of our bodies? This is a hard thing to teach people as everyone’s body type is different and so the best way for me to keep in balance is probably going to be different than for you.

For me, it has been to get on some slab problems at least once a month and work on balancing my way up the climb with as few hand holds as I can. Thinking about transferring my weight from foot to foot and not on my fingers. This took some time to relearn but the pay off has been huge.

Also if you haven't tried 'slack lining' you should. It is a fun and effective way to get a good feel for your body and how to keep it in balance. It may take you some time just to get up on it and get going, but like climbing the more you do the easier it gets.

The pay off for me has been so huge that it’s hard to put into words. On hard sport routes I have found myself being able to keep my weight on my feet and moving off my feet much better. The word slab no longer brings the fear it once did (I'm just scared of them now, not terrified). And awkward starting boulder problems don’t seem as bad as they once did. In short, if you want to see a big improvement in your climbing in one season, then focus a little time to working on your balance once a week and I'm sure you’ll be impressed with the improvements you will see!

Living Thought: Balancing Everyday Life

Have you ever looked at your life and asked 'how am I going to balance all this stuff'? If you haven't, you are the most “centered” person ever and should just quit reading now. If you have, read on.

School, work, family, friends, climbing, and the list goes on and on and the hours in the day grow less and less. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel! Where do we start finding balance in our lives? I would have to say the only place I have found success in this is through Jesus Christ and prayer!

I'm not writing as someone who knows everything about this, but as someone who is trying to walk this out in my own life. Yes, I fail more than I like to say, but I've made it a goal to press in and find what God’s balance is for my life.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful in finding balance in my life;

  • The first thing I do is look at everything that overfills my day and write them down.
  • Then I spent time praying and looking at each thing on that list. Ask questions like, is this something God wants me to be doing, do I really need to be doing this, what is the cost on others for me doing this thing. This takes time and forces me to make some really hard choices. I have to learn what God wants me to be doing.
  • Before I take on anything new, I spend a good amount of time praying about whether this is what God would want in my life. Remember, it's okay to say NO to someone!

    After praying over all these things, I started to let some things go during my day and that was not easy! After a week of not running all over and losing my mind over things that God had never asked me to ever be a part of, I felt an awesome freedom. It's not about being lazy or not wanting to commit to something. No, it's about prayerfully taking on only what God would want you to do and pouring all you have into those things! It is so refreshing at the end of the day when you know you’re doing what God would have you do and not what everyone else would have you do.

    I think we can see this well modeled for us in Jesus’ life! Just look him up in the Bible and you will see for yourself.

    Matthew 11:28-30 is a great reminder of this. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    You also see it in Jesus’ day to day life. You see him hanging out with his friends in many places.

    In Luke 10:38-42 it says, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." “

    Even when Jesus knew he was going to die on the cross in a few hours, he took this posture at the last supper, “When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.” Matthew 26:20

    In John 21, Jesus hangs out and has breakfast with the disciples is an example.

    The list goes on and on. Jesus always took time for people and even though everything He did was very purposeful, He still was never too busy to hang out and share with people. The perfect example of balance!

    Justin Stirrett Bio Canadian, Justin Stirrett (a.k.a. WhipperJ) has been climbing for almost 20 years. He climbs 5.12, boulders V10 and WI6. A climb that is closest to his heart is 'Jacobs Ladder' (5.14a R) in Pemberton, BC. Although climbed in 1995, it hasn’t been repeated (or confirmed). In 2003, he worked a boulder problem for two years and gave it around 2000 tries. The result was “Come to the Altar” (Cimarron, CO) and maybe as hard as V14. Learn more of him at www.bridgethis.org/whipperj.
  • Continue the discussion at the Where Climbers Gather Forums.

    Date Posted - 12.29.13

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