Rock shape vs board shape

Related to the latest podcast on board sessions…Do you find boards help you climb better outside? What about vice versa?

I ask bc I’m having an amazing season on rock and upon returning to my mini moonboard I thought I’d be killin it but it turns out I am really struggling more than before the rock season. Thought it would just be an adjustment after 2-3 sessions but 6 sessions in, the board is killing me hah. (And fyi I’m all about getting humbled in these boards and have been sucked far down the board rabbit hole in the past few years, it’s easy for me to get really psyched on these) I remember going from a lot of board sessions to rock, I felt there were big improvements in hand strength and tension but I had to relearn moving on rock.

On the one hand, maybe this is an opportunity for improvement! On the other hand, does it mean that board climbing really isn’t what I need right now to pursue my outdoor goals? Since I’m doing well outside but not on the board, maybe the board isn’t very specific for my goals…? Or they are just different universes and I can have goals in each universe at different times of year…

I’m sure there’s no right or wrong answers, just curious for your experiences!


I have to relearn the styles like Kris, Nate, and you said. I find that when I have been climbing on the boards for a while and go outdoors: I fall into a ‘Law of the Instrument’ problem. My style will become less intricate and be more brutish until I relearn.


I’m currently in pretty good board shape, and I have yet to find my groove on rock this season- every hold feels pretty good, but the details are still a challenge. I assume like most things, time and rate will sort things out on the rock.

It goes the other way, too- when I’m coming off a long rock season with little to no gym time, plastic always feels weird/hard/different for awhile at first, especially if I haven’t been climbing inside at all!

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That makes me feel better - I always fall into the trap of assuming plastic and boards will feel like no big deal when returning from a rock season. I guess it’s good to always have something to humble you…

Nate and I talked about this a little on a recent Patron episode. Boards are very specific. Spending a season on a board might be closer to projecting one Boulder than doing lots of boulders, since there is a massive amount of overlap in grips, styles, positions, and even specific moves.

For me, the transition is always rough. It used to be jarring, but now I expect it.

Transitioning from indoors to outdoors is easier for me - but I’m a much better rock climber than I am a plastic climber. Going back indoors to any wall or board is a massive drop off every time.


Do we always mean a commercial board when we say board or does this apply in all the above to a spray wall?

For me i think it’s a MASSIVE difference and I’ll take a good spray wall over a board every time as a result. A good spray wall and a willingness to make up your own climbs with a lot of movement and hold variety ( not an easy task, easier with friends and an open mind) transfers to rock WAY better than the commercial boards IMO ( and experience ).

I’ll definitely still feel a bit less snappy coming from outdoors back to a board if I’m not current with it, but going to the rock from a board I almost always feel like a better climber. I thinj there’s a boards vs spray walls discussion somewhere in the podcast that probably goes deeper into this?

I’m wondering two additional things:

  1. I had an idea for a minimalist training plan where you either on a spray wall doing hard physical climbing that’s not too complicated or you climb comp style setting of all varieties. The idea being you’re either doing the simplest kind of movement or some of the most subtle and demanding technically and the two complement each other really well to give a huge breadth of preparation.

  2. if in a few years we’ll be talking about the commercial boards like we talk about the different hangboard protocols now? “ they all work at this one narrow job, but you have to do other stuff and give it time or it doesn’t always transfer well to rock”?


I should also mention I train a lot by climbing on boards, but try to alway get out 1x/ 10 days or so and climb hard on rock as well which I think helps with the transfer. Even still, I know board climbing won’t be the X factor for getting up a hard face climb. Generally it’s important to consider what sorts of rock climbs your board training for before you can analyze whether it’s transferring, but that’s a pretty obvious idea.


I would imagine any wall with a stable set of holds and its own ‘flavor’ will be an adjustment when coming back to it after awhile away. I struggle on any board or spray wall the first few times i try it, and when i come back to it, it always feels harder than when I left it. Even my home board feels tough if I’ve been off for a couple weeks due to an injury or a trip.

Wait a sec, are you the same jwilder setter on Kilter? Your problems are great. I climb them all the time.


Guilty! Glad you like them- I always hope that people enjoy my contributions to the kilter board community.

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