Maj Al Mason, Vice Chair, Mountaineering
Winter is arguably the best time to be indoors at a climbing wall, and a December weekend, with constant gales and flooding proved the perfect backdrop to the AMA facilitating the BMC Fundamentals 1&2 courses at The Quay Climbing Wall in Exeter.
The courses are explained on the BMC website, but essentially, they are designed to introduce a person to training people without breaking them. Fundamentals 1 lasts one day and looks at a person’s long-term physical development in the context of climbing training. It also examines climbing warm ups and exercises to develop the core skills of Agility, Balance and Coordination. Hands and feet are then discussed, and ways in which to make both more efficient are explored. This then leads into the principles of Head, Hands, Hips and Heels (& Habitat & Head-mental) as parts of the body to be controlled whilst moving. Finally types of holds and features are discussed and then everything is put together to round off the day.
Fundamentals 2 also lasts one day and starts with a revision of Fundamentals 1, so fits nicely into a 2-day package. The course moves into focusing on most of the techniques required for climbing common features such as cracks, aretes, slabs and overhangs. The group was then sent off in syndicates to demonstrate various climbing moves such as smearing, bridging, laybacking, flagging and dropped knee using the IDEAS coaching model (Intro, Demo, Explain, Activity, Summary) and focusing on BOSS (Body, Order, Shape, Speed). Not only did the team have to think about how to breakdown a technique, but also where best in the wall to teach it – not an easy task at a busy wall with limited features (maybe a midweek course might be best?).
What was interesting is that everyone from crusty seasoned JS RCI to hardcore beanie wearing boulderer with limited JS quals got a lot out of the course and everyone went away with a far better idea of how to bring on new climbers and also how to analyse their own technique and that of others. In many ways it compliments the JSMTC courses that tend to prioritise ropework over climbing movement and coaching. It also made the group think about further awards facilitated via the AMA such as Climbing Wall (Development) Instructor, MT Rock Climbing Instructor, Foundation Coach and Fundamentals 3.
Whilst this was an AMA facilitated event, the BMC (and Mountain Training) runs many of these courses throughout the year and SLCs are eligible. SLC application forms are on the members area on the AMA website, but remember an Education Centre member of staff needs to sign the form off before you start the course. Alternatively, you the reader could volunteer to organise a bespoke AMA course! Please contact a member of the AMA committee to discuss this idea if you are interested.
Note to Editor – the straight arm exercise photo is being carried out by a RM – as per the RM roll mat initiation https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/nov/28/military.immigrationpolicy
The AMA recognises that climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death.
Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.