So, bouldering and climbing can be pretty scary sometimes, when you are on the wall it can be taxing to think about the fall. Not only does it make you climb worse, but it can also be exhausting mentally.
One of the major things you can do to reduce or get rid of this fear is to learn to fall properly. You might think “how can you fall properly?” – as weird as it might sound there are a few techniques to falling and making sure you are utilizing those techniques can help you climb better and harder.
The way I see falling is in three parts, before the fall when you are mid-climb, while you are falling, and then the landing when you hit the mat. During each of these parts, there is usually something you can be doing to help make the fall easier on you.
The Climb Before The Fall
So, let’s first get to grips with what you can do while you are still climbing. While mid-route there are two types of falls, ones you see coming and the ones you don’t.
While there isn’t much that you can do while climbing to prepare for falls you don’t see coming, these might be due to slipping on hold or a bit of rock breaking off.
There are however things you can do for ones you know are going to happen. This can be caused by the next move being too hard or maybe something just doesn’t feel right so you bail, you GTFO usually executed by a swift drop and a sigh.
So when you know you’re going to sink like the Titanic the first thing you should do while on the wall, is scope out your landing zone.
What you are doing here is ensuring that you have enough room to land and making sure the landing zone is clear. If you are outdoors this will have already been done pre-climb and your spotters will make sure it’s clear.
Sometimes at the gym, newer climbers might not be used to ensuring enough room is available to the climber on the wall which can cause landing issues. However, a simple shout is usually enough to get them to part freeing up your fall zone. (there is no time for niceties when you’re about to fall – worst case you can apologize on the ground)
Once you know your landing zone is clear, you want to make sure that you know how you’re going to fall. It might sound strange but once you start to drop it happens pretty quick so its best to do a quick rundown in your head of proper falling technique to make sure your body follows suit.
My checklist of techniques I run through:
As obvious as it sounds avoid knocks to the head at all costs, this is the pilot of your meat machine so you probably wanna make sure it’s not damaged.
Loosen up, man! it’s just falling, all the cool kids are doing it. Seriously though, loosen up. If you are tense for the impact some studies have shown that you are way more statistically likely to be hurt, this one took a lot of practice for me to get down as it’s really hard to get comfortable enough with falling to loosen up.
If you have trouble like me, doing some practice falls from small heights might help you build up the experience and confidence to not panic when falling for real.
If you do wanna land on your feet make sure you roll it out. There is a reason you see parkour experts rolling after every jump and every move.
Rolling directly after a fall can help spread the impact out and help you save your ankles for a rainy day when your 80. This move is space dependent, make sure you are not rolling off mats or into any walls.
The last tip I can give is to make sure your limbs are bent this will help prepare you to roll if needed and lessen the impact.
There isn’t that much that you can do mid-fall to ensure a good landing, but its worth factoring in everything when it comes to reducing injury time so you can climb more.
The most important thing mid-fall is to make sure you don’t try to grab back onto the wall or rock. The reason for this is that the best case scenario is you catch yourself and probably pull something due to the sudden impact of your weight, and in the worst case you will throw your balance off even more and end up falling in a completely uncontrollable way.
How To Stick The Landing
So the landing is pretty much the crucial part of whether a fall will cause injury or not. Most of this is just following through with the imaginary checklist you thought of earlier.
If the fall is from pretty high up, you wanna break out into the roll I mentioned. This is really important for helping transfer the dynamic energy and makes the fall a lot safer.
However, a lot of falls won’t need this if you’re in the gym and can mostly be taken on your feet as long as you buckle onto your butt to help absorb the force.
If you use a combination of all the tips above, you should be fine falling inside or out, as well as drastically reducing your chance of getting injured.