Competition tacticals

Clipping techniques: A lot of power can be lost clipping from a bad position. On a competition all clips MUST be clipped in sequence.

  • Derwich clip: Clipping while doing a cross under. Extra video.
  • Double clip: clipping 2 quickdraws at once. Extra video.
  • Z-clip: Beware of Z-clips! On a competition Z-clips must be restored for safety reasons. It is allowed to unclip and reclip any of the quickdraws involved. On the video you can see that Okiyo dragged the long sling upwards and therefore didn’t realise that she took the rope from under the long clip to clip the next quickdraw. At this point she had 2 options: unclip the last clipped quickdraw and reclip it correctly (thus taking the rope above the long quickdraw) or (safer) unclip and reclip the long quickdraw. Unfortunately she had to be stopped as soon as she clipped the next quickdraw because she failed to restore the Z-clip.


The qualification round of World Cups Lead is done flash. The (2) qualification routes must be demonstrated before the round, either by video or live. Concentrate on the first route you will have to climb.

  • It’s now common to have a video demonstration which should start at the opening of the warming-up zone. The advantage is that you can watch the video as much as you want. The disadvantage is that it is sometimes harder to add this observation into your warming-up routine. Sometimes the quality is not very good or the area is overcrowded. Recording the demonstration video on your smartphone gives you the possibility to watch the demonstration at a quieter place, while stretching for instance.
  • Live demonstrations must start at the latest 30 minutes before the beginning of the first competitor. It’s a good idea to study the routes before the demonstration and learn them by hard. If possible, have someone film the demonstration (preferably not you because it is far better to watch live).

The semifinal and final round Lead are done on-sight. Observation time is 6 minutes. You can use binoculars and even make a drawing if you want. It is permitted to touch the first holds you can reach as long as you leave one foot on the floor. Start reading the route at your own. First look at the general line of the route. Then look for all the handholds, beware of handholds hidden behind a corner or on a volume. Try to climb the route in your mind using only handholds. Do this again now using footholds as well and imagining how your body position should be. Repeat, now deciding where to clip the quickdraws. Then you could use the remaining time to read the route with other competitors and discuss some tricky sections. Back in observation, take some time to discuss the route with other competitors and to further memorise the route. Before your turn, try to bring the whole route back to your mind. Remember that you have another 40 seconds before you have to start once you are in front of the route. Use this time to read the route (or at least the first part) again.

Note: For Boulder competitions the observation is part of your climbing time (5 minutes) in the qualification round and the semifinal round. The final round Boulder is preceded by a common observation time of 2 minutes per boulder (so 8 minutes in total).

Time management

On a Lead competition the starting lists for the qualification round are provided at the technical meeting (usually the evening before the competition). Maximum climbing time is 6 minutes. What you need to know:

  • How long is your warming-up routine? For some it is only 20 minutes, others need about 1.5 hours. Don’t forget to include the observation.
  • How much time you need between warming-up and climbing? For some this is 10 minutes, others need 45 to 60 minutes. Use this time to watch the video or better: your fellow competitors.
  • When do you expect to start? It’s important that you try to calculate your starting time. On average count on about 12 to 15 competitors per hour. There must be a cleaning break after maximum 22 competitors. So don’t forget to take this into account (cleaning usually takes 8 to 15 minutes).
  • Calculate the remaining time before you have to climb your second route. You will have time to observe your second route by watching other competitors and/or the video. Do you need to warm up again? Decide when you start.

Unless you climb early in the semifinal, it is often hard to calculate when you will have to start. Maximum climbing time is 6 minutes but sometimes the first competitors all fall early, sometimes most competitors take 4 to 5 minutes or even longer. Try to get information from the isolation stewards about which competitor is at the wall.

With only 8 finalists the time management for the final round is much easier. Climbing time is 6 minutes. After the presentation of the finalists, the round starts (men first then women or vice versa).

Note: For Boulder competitions you will know exactly when to climb in the qualification and semifinal round. The final round is a bit less predictable but no problem for the time management.

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