On Saturday, we celebrated our very FIRST Adidas sponsored event: the adidas Ticket to Rockstars! We were stoked to see hundreds of excited and tenacious climbers at Sender One LAX to face numerous bouldering challenges while rocking out to awesome music!
We started the day off with our youth bouldering jam, and were met by a sea of green adidas shirts and upbeat attitudes. We were blown away by all of the energy and excitement that these little (and crazy strong!) senders brought to the competition and we want to give a very special THANK YOU to all parents for spending the day and bringing their kids to enjoy their very own Ticket to Rockstars event! It’s amazing to see so many supportive and proud parents with a huge smile on their face as their kids test their skills on new routes and share their excitement with new people! These kid crushers are the future of rock climbing, so it’s safe to say: we are in good hands!
As the Open Jam began, we were met with an even bigger sea of red adidas shirts! Climbers of all levels gave it their all while continuing to rock out to great music. No matter if you are an experienced climber or a beginner, our gym and competitions are always going to cater to everyone. Even if you didn’t feel like climbing, there was a relaxing lounge area filled with bean bags, corn hole, and a selfie booth with fun props!
Congratulations to first place winners, Simon Benkert and Kylie Cullen! Good luck and have fun competing in Stuttgart, Germany!
In case you couldn’t make it to this event, check out the video re-cap and get psyched for the next time adidas Ticket to Rockstars returns to Sender One!
Special thanks to our vendors who helped support our very first Adidas Ticket to Rockstars competition!
Randy Casillan, possibly better known as RC, is Sender One SNA’s routesetting foreman. Recently, he was invited to set for the USAC Collegiate National Championship at Momentum Indoor Climbing in Houston, Texas. We interviewed Randy about his experience at the National Championships.
Hello Randy. For those of us who aren’t familiar with you or your setting style, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi. I’m Randy, I’m the SNA routesetting foreman. I’m RC. I set what I think will be fun; climbing is like a puzzle. I like challenging people, and making them “solve” my climbs. Climbing is more than just a physical challenge, there’s a huge mental game in climbing. That’s why they’re called problems.
That’s awesome, that’s probably why they invited you to set for the Collegiate National Championship. Can you provide some background on the event?
The championship was a two day event, and we set at two Momentum gyms. We had climbers come from all over the place, I even saw some climbers from Sender One there. We set boulders and sport climbs. It took a whole week to prepare for the event.
Wow, a whole week! How many other setters were there? Did you enjoy meeting and them?
I’m a social butterfly with the other nine routesetters. We had our own texting thread. I sent GIFs, and had a lot of fun. It was great connecting with the other setters. It wasn’t just climbing, we stayed out and hung out throughout the week.
So you made friends. How was setting with them?
All the sets were a team effort. There was a lot of setting to do with a very diverse skill-level to accommodate to. We all had a say in everything, and we set climbs from V3 to V10. I even helped set a 5.8 for ropes.
Did you learn anything from the other setters? How did you contribute to the team?
Absolutely! Climbing is constantly changing and everyone has their own styles and ideas. Competition sets are a different game than commercial sets and it gave us an opportunity to try some new things.
I learned a bunch of new things, and Momentum has a lot of cool toys and tools that I got to try out. I think I was an I was positive influence on the team. I believe I have great attention to details, I notice things. I liked tweaking certain aspects of the climbs to just make the flow smoother.
Can you tell me how competition sets are different than regular sets?
For competition sets, we’re really testing someone’s skill in all aspects of climbing. We use the Risk-Intensity-Complexity scale for the climbs. Risk means a high commitment moves, like dynos. Intensity is the raw strength required for the climb. Complexity means the technical aspects of the climb, or the creativity in reading the route beta.
In the gym, I just like to set what I think would be fun to climb. I set all different aspects so I can challenge everyone and help them improve.
What was the best part of the competition?
Finals night was the pay off for all of our hard work. Watching the climbers try to figure out our climbs, and feeling the energy and hype from the crowds. The crowds would just go wild when the climbers would make certain moves, or finishing the climb.
Did you bring anything back from your experience? How is going to affect your sets at Sender One?
Well, I got this super cool jacket. And I’m back on dynamic moves. Paddles, I’m gonna set a bunch of paddles. Low percentage, high commitment moves. Risky moves, cross dynos, and such.
Would you like to see anything new at Sender One?
Our gym is perfect. But I saw some cool new holds that we’re planning on getting for Sender One.
Any advice for the climbing community out there?
Climbing is hard. Never quit. And all climbing styles are good. I’ve seen it all and it's always fun.
Sender One SNA will be hosting the USAC Sport & Speed Youth Regional Competition. Click here to volunteer for the event!
Sender One Santa Ana (SNA) and Los Angeles (LAX) both have competitive ("comp") teams that practice at their respective "home gyms". Given the distance between the two gyms, Sender One coaches hold monthly full team practices and an early season "all team lock-in" event. This encourages bonding between comp team members and fosters cohesion for Team Sender One. For the 2018 sport and speed climbing season, the all team lock-in event took place at Sender One LAX on February 17, 2018.
While the Sender One Youth team trained together, coaches Christian and Nate held a parent orientation to discuss team goals and important information about USA Climbing membership requirements for competitors. Many parents were new to the comp team, and climbing in general, and welcomed a forum where they asked the coaches questions about training methods, safety, and USA Climbing rules. Coach Christian Mercene, the SNA youth head coach, really listened and addressed new parents' questions and concerns. Coach Nate Withey, who has extensive personal competition experience, was able to answer technical questions about USA Climbing's rules. Parents are encouraged to visit USA Climbing's rules page and watch the short video explaining its competition rules.
After training and dinner, Team Sender One visited Sender City. Parents were welcome to try out the obstacles, some of which were quite challenging! My husband won the "speed climbing challenge", but I was able to pass his high-point on the the "moving cog-wheel" climbing problem. Many of the challenges required leaps of faith, such as jumping off high objects or platforms into the air, which are wonderful exercises in "trust" and made these obstacles popular in adult team-building/confidence events.
Groups began to form, with some kids heading to the party room to watch the climbing movie, featuring world class climbers Chris Sharma, Alex Honnold, and Margo Hayes. Others hung out with coach Melanie (who seemed to be exercising for hours at a time!) at the fitness area. The rest of us headed to the climbing walls to work off the dessert we ate! At 10pm, the gym doors were locked and all the other guests had left. Team Sender One and their families were locked in. A few parents collectively took a breath as Team Sender One took over LAX!
Kids ran all over the place, playing hide and seek, clamoring upstairs and downstairs. The main lights turned off, leaving the spot lights shining on the iconic Torch and the other big walls. Those who brought head-lamps did some "head-lamp climbing".Coaches also rigged up a "King Swing" in the middle of the lead climb arch. This was a long rope that required the swinger to climb up the wall, then jump off, for a long fall and wide swing.
By this time, it was past midnight. Many parents were exhausted since it was past our bedtime! People began staking sleeping spots around the bouldering areas. We set up the ground sheet and sleeping bags/pillows, and as things wound down, we settled to sleep. It was quite a pleasant experience to sleep in the dark and quiet building, with the occasional sound of an airliner taking off or landing at LAX.
The next morning Team Sender One campers woke up, packed up, and met for potluck breakfast. Coaches Toby and Christian greeted everyone and asked about favorite parts of the lock-in. King swing, Sender City, Rope swings, the (climbing) movie, "everything" were answers, followed by the next question: "When are we going to do this again?" Looks like the lock-in was a success!
I want to address an often-ignored aspect in kids participating in competitive sports: young athletes' emotional and mental health. As with many sports, a major factor in climbing performance is the athlete’s mentality. Too much pressure, and the climber may crack. Too little, and the climber may lose focus and motivation.
...youth athletes will get the sense that "comp day can be equal parts high-pressure excitement and simply a good time."
As a parent of a young climber, I struggle between encouraging my son, Jaden, to his potential versus pushing him too hard. Given that my husband and I also climb, we easily fall into the trap of fixating on grades.The sentence, "You have to start climbing V5 problems to be competitive" has actually come out of my mouth, when I could have identified specific skills in a difficult problem and encouraged Jaden to practice those skills. I want Jaden to "have fun and relax" at a competition, but alternatively, I want him to "take this seriously" so he will perform his best.
Udo Neumann wrote about training children who climb in his Art of Bouldering. Udo is the coach of the German Bouldering Team and shares training videos of the national team that includes Julie Wurm, Jan Jojer, and Monika Retschy. In a section on child development, Udo discouraged "grade-oriented climbing" because this puts children under pressure that can impact their overall well-being. For those parents and coaches who encourage children into climbing as a serious sport, Udo's approach is "a way that doesn't leave them either injured or disillusioned and out of sport for good at 13 or 14." Instead of fixating on immediate results, parents and coaches can focus on what actually matters: intention and consistency. Udo states that training is a long term commitment: "Ultimately, sustained success comes from training and performing well over the long term rather than winning in the short term."
Falling is part of getting better!
Jordan Terry, Sender One LAX's youth competitive team head coach, teaches young climbers that falling and "feeling like a failure" are the most important parts of progressing. Young athletes may find it difficult to see that something that feels so negative is something positive. This process of mental growth takes a lot of time to for young kids, especially young motivated athletes, to cultivate. Jordan makes sure to tell youth competitive climbers about the times that she has fallen or failed, in climbing or in life. Jordan is honest about mistakes and ask for forgiveness when she missteps, and asks her youth athletes to do the same with their team. By asking others to be accepting of their "off" days, it becomes easier for young competitors to forgive themselves. This mindset then leads to more opportunities for success. Learning to accept falling off a project, saying "I can't", and being supportive for teammate creates an environment of trust for young competitors while also holding each other accountable to reaching climbing goals.
Climbing competitions are a challenging aspect of USA Climbing (USAC), because the pressure is high and there is temptation to compare oneself to others. Jordan cautions parents against entering into a competition space with any discussion of how their young athletes will do compared to other young climbers. Although Sender One youth athletes train as a team, climbing is an individual sport. It may be easier for parents and coaches to talk about "focusing on your personal climbing goals" than consistently creating a fun and constructive climbing environment. Jordan believes that as long as parents and coaches stay calm and maintains a casual and high-spirited energy, youth athletes will get the sense that "comp day can be equal parts high-pressure excitement and simply a good time."
Sender One youth athletes train as a team, climbing is an individual sport.
Jordan's advice for parents of youth competitive climbers is to praise young athletes for a job well done or trying hard AND talking about how their young athletes felt when they weren't climbing their best. "Kids don't want to be told that they did great when they feel like they didn't, it doesn't feel genuine," says Jordan. Parents are more helpful by by working with young climbers to identify what specifically bothered their athletes about their climbing, put some thought into what could go better next time, and then move on with their day.
Injuries and accidents can lead to a plateau or recession in progress, both physically and mentally. Check out another blog post to help youovercome mental blocks on the wall. Especially in younger athletes, it is important to give them the push they need to discipline their training, but allow them the freedom and fun of the sport to truly maximize their potential.
I currently consult in the orthopedic field specializing on osteoarthritis, where I speak with sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons about their management of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) pain. Historically, patients with OA pain have been elderly patients, as this degenerative disease is common with age. In recent years, the demographic has changed to include not only professional athletes, but "weekend warriors" -- active adults regularly engaged in sports. What troubled me was hearing physicians talk about "treating 20 year olds with knees that look more like 50 year old knees."
Physicians are increasingly treating younger children with sports injuries that were once common only in professional adult athletes. Children are specializing in a single sport at a younger age, which may confer a degree of competitive advantage, but exposes youth athletes to degenerative, repetitive-motion related injuries. Injuries can vary, but certain sports have a propensity for specific injuries.
Those of us who climb know how hard climbing can be on our feet (climbing shoes!) and finger joints (crimps!).
A 2007 literature review published in a sports medicine journal analyzed 50 scientific studies on common growth variables in young climbers (Morrison and Schoffl, Br J Sports Med 2007;41:852-861). Based on injury data and existing published scientific evidence, the researchers recommended that climbers younger than 16 should not undertake intensive finger strength training (campus board training, closed crimps), and should not participate in international bouldering competitions. Additionally, the researchers also found the following trends in young climbers:
- Ligament tears can be especially harmful to young children because their cartilage growth plates (epiphyseal plates) are 2-5 times weaker than the surrounding connective tissue. Emphasis should be climbing more (volume) with diverse routes to improve fluency and technique, instead increasing in climbing intensity (power).
- Growth spurts are associated with increased risk of injuries and growth plate fractures. Children who may have rapidly increased strength do not yet have the growth plates strong enough to withstand the amount of exertion.
- Wearing restrictive climbing shoes increases risk of foot injuries and deformities. Parents should keep regular records of street wear and climbing shoes size to monitor normal foot development in young climbers.
- Young climbers' body fat should be monitored, and referred for complete health evaluation, especially if height is in the lower 5th percentile or there is a downward trend of growth indices across 2 major percentile lines. For female youth climbers, menstrual age and cycle details should be monitored. In other words, deliberately becoming "underweight" as a means to improve competitiveness can be harmful to children's developing bodies.
The researchers concluded that an elite adult climber's training regimen is not appropriate for an elite young climber, even if they compete on identical routes. This makes sense: just as children are not "mini versions of adults", young climbers are not mini-versions of adult climbers.
Parents should also periodically check in with our youth climbers' pediatricians. Don't be afraid to ask our children's doctors questions and share concerns that they need to watch out for. Our pediatrician is not yet concerned about Jaden's growth plates because of his age, but cautioned that "If he starts getting frequent injuries, we need to pay attention." She confirmed that as children enter puberty, the growth spurts are correlated with increased injury risks.
Sender One coaches work with the kids to improve and prevent injury!
Fortunately, Sender One’s Youth coaches are all conscientious of our young climber’s health and well-being. Their curriculum, especially for the competitive program, is tailored, monitored, and adjusted to each individual athlete. Age, experience, and current physical condition are all accounted when developing the climber’s training program. The Sender One coaches maximize climbing growth, and minimize stress and risks. For the adults who don't have professional rock climbing coach, check out this piece injury prevention!