Tips for Bouldering Onsights

Tips for Bouldering Onsights

Regionals are coming! Some of you are thinking, “At last, no more chaotic redpoints!” And some of you might be dreading it because of pressure and all the (perceived) eyeballs watching you. We compiled a bunch of lessons learned from over the years to share with you to help you get ready and do your best at Regionals.


A Few Days Before the Comp

  • Get good rest. Dial back on the video games, wind down early, and get good rest.

  • Eat well. Lay off the junk, sugary, and fatty foods. 🥗

  • Be happy, positive, confident. Visualize yourself doing well at the event.

  • Check your gear.

    • Is your shoe rubber in good shape or is it time to get some new ones to give you every possible.... edge (pun intended)?

    • Make sure your chalk bag is topped off.

    • Wash your team shirt and your send-pants/send-shorts.

  • Check your Iso call time so you know how long you’ll be in prison.

  • Pack your Iso survival kit. Read up about isolation strategies that help you to come out ready to crush.

  • Don’t go swimming or hot tubbing. You’ll ruin your skin.



Comp Day

  • Eat a good breakfast.

  • Try to poop. Less weight is good and you’ll be less anxious. 🤣

  • Check in at least 15 min before Iso closes. Do not arrive after isolation closes. You will not be let in. You will forfeit your spot. You can cry, scream, and yell but they won’t let you in. Plan ahead, arrive to the venue early, and don’t risk being late.

  • Be prepared for a long time in Iso. In Southern California, Iso times of 4+ hours is possible at regionals. Depends on your region and event.

  • Don’t be surprised if your toilet facilities are limited to port-a-potties. Sometimes isolation areas aren’t close to the restrooms.

  • Once you’re inside, you can not have outside contact with family or friends.

  • Do not bring communication or wifi enabled devices.

 A rules meeting behind the isolation curtain. Photo by me.

A rules meeting behind the isolation curtain. Photo by me.


Mental Game

  • Expect your anti-style. If you hate slab, and a lot of you do, get amped for some slab so you’ll be mentally ready.

  • Every attempt is a new attempt. Clear your head after each attempt. Don’t get tilted. Even if you’re having a hard time making progress to the top of a climb, stay calm. For all you know, you might have high point because all the other athletes struggled even more. You just don’t know, so don’t let it get to you.

  • Close your eyes for a sec and picture yourself doing the crux move.

  • Take two deep breaths before you start each attempt to clear your head and get that oxygen flowing.


Before Attempts

  • If they do previews, where everyone comes out to look at the climbs and talk beta together, be aware that climbers 1 and 2 need to bring their gear with them because they will go straight to the seats at Climb 1, not back to Iso.

  • Follow your normal routine. If you read beta, brush, chalk, then climb in practice and when projecting, do the same thing in the comp. It’s just another day on the wall… with a clock.

  • Read the climb. So many kids skip the beta read. This drives your coaches nuts. Take the 30 seconds and do the read and maybe cut down on attempts because every one of them matters.

  • Wipe your shoes on a towel, on your pants, on your chalk bag, on a judge... ok maybe not that judge. Get them sticky.

  • When starting a climb, put your hands on the start holds and avoid taking little hops where both feet come off the ground. This is common when athletes are trying to position themselves well for a good stable start. An attempt will be counted if both feet come off the ground.

  • Ask the judge questions if you’re not sure about something (“Is that volume on?” “Is that arête on?”.

  • Chalk up. This also drives your coaches nuts when you don’t.

 Always read the beta before your first attempt in order to increase your chances of success. FYB  Jessica  works her way up the slab to flash after a good read. Photo by me.

Always read the beta before your first attempt in order to increase your chances of success. FYB Jessica works her way up the slab to flash after a good read. Photo by me.

On the Wall

  • Every attempt matters so every attempt has to be 100%.

  • You can learn from failed 100%-effort attempts. You might not learn if you’re confusedly doing a half-hearted move.

  • Red tape on a problem: You can flag past but you can’t use any holds beyond.

  • Black tape on a problem: Do not cross with any part of your body.

  • If you bleed or have a hold spin on you, tell the judge. This is called a “technical” and the clock stops for you. You get to be patched up. Holds get tightened down. Read the remaining time out loud so you and the judge know how much you have left for a future attempt.

  • Attempts matter but you don’t get penalized for trying to get higher, so don’t stop early. Read our post regarding this common zone scoring misconception.

 MYB  Silas  giving it 100% on this burly boulder. Photo by me.

MYB Silas giving it 100% on this burly boulder. Photo by me.

Time Management

  • If you’re giving 100% effort on every attempt, you’ll need more rest between attempts. But you’re also likely to get the climb in fewer attempts and create for yourself a longer rest period.

  • When the clock gets down to 20 seconds or less, really think about whether another attempt is worth the effort, or if it’s better to save it for the next climb.



Post Comp

  • Talk through each climb with your coaches, parents, or teammates. Learn from the ones you didn’t finish or didn’t feel clean on. Identify weaknesses to work on.

  • Encourage others. Doesn’t matter if they’re on your team or not. Give them a fist bump and some encouraging words. This is one of the things that makes our community great.

  • Celebrate what you did well with your family and friends. Celebrate others. 🎉🙌

  • Didn’t do as well as you hoped? That’s ok. It’s a process. Keep putting in the work, set goals, and chase after them. It’ll come. 🏋️‍♀️


Cover Photo: MYD
Cruz on the infamous “Hurt Me” slab wall at Mesa Rim Academy. Photo by Phoebe.




Youth Climbers at USAC's National Cup Series

Youth Climbers at USAC's National Cup Series