Novel Ways to Measure Performance

Based on the most recent Patron episode about what data and assessments are missing, does anyone have novel ways of keeping track of performance data beyond just sends?

I really liked the episode, but currently I’m going the opposite way and focussing on process goals and data. Things like keeping track of my psych, and making rough % estimates how far I am towards sending my project. The main reason I’m doing this is because my project is actually above my limit, so I need to focus on other things than performance to stay positive and on track - hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have improved enough to be able to send :slight_smile:

For performance data, I guess competitions could be interesting in terms of data collection. Unfortunately it’s a very specific style of climbing, but at least you have some assurances (new climbs being attempted with a time limit and competitors giving 100% on every attempt).

One thing that I was wondering; how would you use performance data? I mean for team sports I understand how it’s interesting for picking the right team and putting everyone in the best position for the overall team performance… but for my own development, how would I make training decisions based on performance data?

I think you just fell into the trap yourself. You note that teams use performance data to make performance decisions, but ask how we would make training decisions using performance data.

Why wouldn’t climbers make performance decisions using performance data? In my experience, looking at thousands of clients over the years, training decisions are the easier part. We complicate it - but if we don’t, it’s quite simple.

Performance is far more complicated.

But here’s the thing: using training data to make training decisions isn’t always a good idea - never if you don’t have performance metrics in the mix. That is, unless getting better at training is the goal. If I can see clear performance improvement, I know the training is “working”. If I can’t, how do I know if what I’m doing is helping me climb better or just train better?

But how would it be useful to make performance decisions using performance data in an individual sport (outside of competitions)? Any examples in climbing? I’m missing something. I feel the need to break it down to its parts, but then I’m left with metrics that somehow seem more useful for training than performance…

For instance, here are a few off the top of my head:

if you know the average number of sessions or attempts at a particular grade, you can better plan what you will work on during a trip.

Theoretically, we could better predict what “limit level” means rather than spending time on sub-limit level or projects that are too hard.

If you see that this season your average # of attempts to send second tier routes has improved (or gotten worse), you can adjust your goals.

If you find yourself way over your average attempts on a certain grade, you can better determine whether you have the best beta or not. It’s always a tricky thing to change beta once you’re in the Redpoint process. This could help dramatically.

If you know you do boulders that include left hand crux Slopers much faster than right hand Crux Slopers, you can adjust season or trip goals accordingly.

Over time, if we could better correlate gym performance with outdoor performance (# of attempts at X grade/style in my gym roughly correlates to X grade outdoors at my local crag) then we could make better performance plans for outdoor seasons.

And lots more. That’s just spitballing for 3 minutes.


It would still take interpretation to be able to apply this type of data, but I think that there would be a lot of value in it. Here are some examples. Some I do use when info is available, but several of these are just the things I wish I could have access to.

How many times did you tie into each grade in a season? You say your goal is to become a more well rounded 5.12 climber to help you break more solidly into 5.13, but 80% of your time was spent between 12a, 12b, and 13a. That’s a huge red flag.

Someone says they just can’t seem to break over a plateau and climb v9. Year after year they are sending v7 and v8 faster. Are they actually not able to break into v9 or is it just that v7 and v8 now feels comfortable to them and they want to get strong enough that v9 feels comfortable too?

If someone has great progress year after year for 3 years, I can look back and see how many climbs of each grade they were doing. Looking at 8a, it’s common to see boulderers who are making continuous progress climbing 80+ teir 1 and teir 2 boulders outside each year.

You feel like you aren’t actually improving and everything you’ve been sending must be soft because a recent 12b took you 5 goes where that should normally be a second go kind of thing. If everything else you’ve been doing is 100ft and this is 40ft then it should be no surprise that your body isn’t in the same kind of shape for that kind of climb.

Someone feels competent climbing v10, but struggles on 13a, why is this? Is it endurance, power endurance, tactics? If that person has climbed 100 boulders v8-v10, but has only done 4 routes 12c and 12d then I can say right now that direct path forward is to get more reps in on a rope.

Using a personal example, every hard boulder I’ve done faster than I should have is a right shoulder dominant crux. Every nemesis boulder I have, problems that feels unnecessarily hard for the grade, is a left shoulder dominant crux.

When I had climbed ten v10’s I had already done over 100 v7’s and v8’s. That said, I still couldn’t climb a pure v7 crimp line on incuts. I was just good at momentum and movement skills and hiding that weakness. Had I not had a logbook of all those ascents (and journals of the things I wasn’t able to do) and been able to look at the styles I did and didn’t climb then I might not have found that weakness as soon as I did.

Without turning this into a 10 page ordeal, those are the things that come to mind first. I think that having performance data by itself is no more useful than anything else, but knowing what patterns to look for makes it invaluable in my mind.


Having journals of things you couldn’t do sounds like a great idea. I keep lists of what i’ve sent and note what i’ve worked on, but organising what I haven’t sent into a list and looking for patterns sounds really useful.

I think there’s a lot of value there. It becomes especially helpful when you’ve been climbing for a longer time and the details of climbs from years before start to blend together. I feel like every few years I spot a new pattern within my climbing, and it’s really helpful to be able to look back at what I’ve failed on and see if that pattern remained true back then…

There’s an old interview with Adam Ondra about the routes he couldn’t do from 2012 that I thought was really unique at the time that it came out. It would be really cool to see modern day versions of these lists from top climbers. Adam Ondra, the routes I cannot climb!

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This is all very interesting, especially around tracking number of attempts across grades and styles (including routes/problems you don’t send).

As someone who keeps track of performance sessions on paper, I can see that I may be missing some valuable insight from a) collecting more data and b) having a system give insights on it. For example, I generally don’t write down number of attempts, and it’s hard to count higher than 3, so I really only know if something has taken me 1, 2, 3, or several attempts. And I can guess that a technical 12b may take me 2 attempts, while a more powerful one may take 4-5, but I haven’t tracked that data at all and memory really isn’t the best tool.

Still need to catch up on this episode - probably after work today - but this is inspiring me to consider a spreadsheet, or maybe something more sophisticated, for performance measurement.

What software exists to track down performances and be able to extract some insights?

Quite a bit. The problem is that we probably aren’t tracking the right things. We haven’t even really defined the right things. For instance, what is an attempt? How do we differ between sessions when some are 1 hour and some are all day?

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You know, the more I think about this subject the more confused I get :stuck_out_tongue:
If performance data is useful for performance, and training data is useful for training, then that would suggest there’s a gap between training and performance. How to bridge that gap?

And can performance data help improve you as a climber? I don’t mean perform better through tactics and strategy, but for instance help improve your movement skills?

Of course there is a gap. There is in every sport I can think of, even something as simple as weightlifting, in which training looks almost exactly like the performance. But you factor in varying locations, competition pressure, travel fatigue, etc, then it can change dramatically for some folks. Performance is multi faceted and hard to accurately deconstruct, but training is often much simpler, by design so it can be more effectively measured and progressed.

If you gather the right performance data to help you make choices about movement practice, yes it could certainly help. What if you always choose to drop knee when most other people backstep? It might help you recognize a hole in your movement library or decision making. I’m sure there are a lot of others, that’s just the first thing that pops in my head.

How are you tracking and reviewing this data? I feel like I spend way too much time tracking (and then I struggle to analyze it meaningfully), or I end up with data that isn’t that useful. Either way, I usually fall back to a very basic form of tracking where I know I’m losing efficiency in my training (as well as overtraining and getting injured consistently). There have to be better answers out there, but I’ve been unable to find them so far.

Currently not. That’s the question - are we tracking the wrong things? Personally, I don’t track much of what I do - instead I make a plan and stick to it, so I can just look back at old plans. But I know this won’t work for everyone. I really enjoy leaning into discomfort and working on weaknesses, probably to a fault, but not everyone does.

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My form of tracking with my own climbing is that I use a scorecard system ( combined with journaling. I really like Kris’s method of having a plan and sticking to it for training, but when I’m outside during performance seasons I tend to do well with journalling the process. I also have a good memory for climbs and experiences which makes reviewing a lot easier. I don’t have a formal method for reviewing my climbing. I normally go back between training periods or performance periods and take stock of the past few years to help me consider where I should take my practice and training next.

I also tend to go back and review these things whenever I have a new “discovery” or revelation about climbing. If I think I see a general pattern that is new to me then I’ll go back and review my past performance data to see if it rings true with my own experiences. If it does then I start reaching out to friends and colleagues to see if this pattern shows up in their experiences as well.

As for how to track and review this data as a coach. It’s like what Kris said, there’s not yet a formal method for this.