Compared to more widely funded sports, at what stage would you describe climbing sports science as being at today?
We are at very exciting times, because we know many things about physiology, anthropometry, biomechanics, etc., and what factors are important for performance in climbing. But there is a lack of knowledge about training for each of those key factors. And it is precisely that area what will imbue our sport with the scientific character it needs, helping coaches and climbers to program their training in the most serious and effective way. For example, while writing my thesis I searched for controlled experimental studies that compared finger strength methods in climbing and found only the ones that I conducted.
Training seems to be becoming more widely accepted at all levels in climbing – we see it increasingly as part of most climbers’ routines now, rather than something reserved for an elite. Unless this is only a UK phenomenon, do you have any thoughts about it?
It is true that we are facing a change in the way it’s regarded. Climbers are increasingly approaching training as a way not only of gaining level, but also to better enjoy climbing, staying motivated and keeping injuries at a distance. Perhaps it is related to the growing number of climbing gyms and professionals that work at these, while bouldering and sport climbing are considered more and more as “real” sports, where training is a given.