Tips for Classic Redpoint Bouldering Competitions

Tips for Classic Redpoint Bouldering Competitions

Most local youth bouldering competitions are in redpoint format, either “classic” or “modified”. Read on for a general overview and some basic tips for navigating classic redpoint competitions.

FORMAT: In a classic redpoint bouldering competition, many climbs of varying difficulty will be set for the competition. All the boulder problems are available to all of the climbers at once, and the competitors may attempt the climbs as many times as they wish in the given time period (usually 3 hours). Each climber has to carry a scorecard and give it to the judge before each attempt.

BETA: Climbers may discuss beta (information or advice about the climbs) in between attempts. No beta can be given to climbers when they are on the wall. Climbers may also watch the other competitors' attempts to learn about the climbs.

SCORING: In a classic redpoint comp, each problem will have a point value: the score you will receive if -and ONLY if- you top it. At the end of the competition, only the top 5 scores on your scorecard will be counted. Attempts are recorded and may be used to break ties.


Preview the climbs. When you enter the competition venue, take time to walk around the gym and scope out the problems. It's helpful to go with a coach or a more experienced competitor for guidance. Look for the problems that you want to climb: warm-up climbs, "safety" climbs, and try-hard climbs. 

Be selective about your climbs. Once you are warmed up, don't waste time and energy on climbs that are way too easy. Be strategic from the beginning by finding 5 "safety" climbs that you are fairly confident you can top on the first try - but also have decent point values. Once you have those 5 scores in place, you can work on your try-hard climbs with higher point values to replace those "safe" scores with better ones.

Collect beta. Ask your coach for advice. Talk to and watch other climbers who are similar height and have similar climbing styles/strengths. Sometimes a climb is a lot harder or a lot easier than it appears, so you may have to adjust your strategy partway through the comp.

Take breaks. It's common to hit a wall after 1.5-2 hours of a redpoint comp. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a breather. Have a snack, drink some water, and take a step back for a few minutes. Rest long enough to regain a positive attitude and get back some of your energy. 3 hours is a long time. Pace yourself.

Manage your time. Pay attention to which climbs have long lines and which do not. Remember, only tops count in a classic redpoint. Only get in a long line if you are fairly sure you can top the climb and the point value is worth the wait.

Make every attempt count. Try every method with 100% effort, or you won’t truly know if that beta will work for you or not. If you fall, learn from the attempt, and make adjustments accordingly. A good rule of thumb: If after 3 tries, you are not confident you will top the climb on the next 1-2 attempts, move on to something else. (You can come back to it later.) Also, attempts factor into tie breakers. In a tie, the climber with fewer attempts will prevail.

Relax and enjoy your climbing. Focus on gaining profitable experience on competition-style climbs. Don’t worry about your placement. Yes, we know you want to get into the top 20 and qualify for Regionals, but stressing out about that won’t really help. Concentrate on CLIMBING, not competing.

Special thanks to all the coaches and climbers that have given us advice and input over the years so that we can share these tips with others. You know who you are. :)

Readers, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have any additional tips? Let us know in the comments!

At lot of these tips apply in principle to modified redpoints as well. To learn more about that format see our other posts:

The Modified Redpoint Competition Format: Pros and Cons

USAC Multi-Zone Scoring: A Common Misconception on Penalties for Attempts

Youth Climbers at USAC's National Cup Series

Youth Climbers at USAC's National Cup Series

USAC Multi Zone Scoring: A Common Misconception on Penalties for Attempts

USAC Multi Zone Scoring: A Common Misconception on Penalties for Attempts