Working Different Betas

I’m sure there is no right answer here, but I’m curious - if you’re working a limit move, and there are a few ways to do the move, and you really can’t tell which way is going to be best for you…how do you decide which method to focus your time on?

For the climb I’m working, the holds are hard enough for me that I only get about less than 10 quality tries per session, maybe less. And from beta videos there are like 5 valid ways to do the move that are each pretty different - a kneebar, a toe hook, or no fancy footwork but instead just doing a hand match, going left hand to the next hold, or going right hand to the next hold. I really can’t tell which option is going to work for me. But if I try all 5 options in a session, I’ll only really get maybe 2 tries per method, which doesn’t seem like enough to learn from…or, recently I’ve just been trying the kneebar for several whole sessions, haven’t gotten it, and wonder if I’d have been better off spending my time on working on other methods.

Again I’m sure there’s no right answer here! But I bet this happens a lot on harder climbs… Maybe just keep experimenting with all the options until something clicks?

If there’s no clear best choice then flip it around: what kind of climber do you want to be? Which beta gets you closest to that kind of climber?

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I’ll generally spend a session on each method unless its super unproductive after three or four tries- or just really clear that it won’t work, then I’ll switch to another way. I’ve currently got a project that I’ve worked two sessions with one way, and a third with another- and I think moving forward I’ll focus on the second way, as I like that it feels a little more my style.

I definitely wouldn’t spend each session trying all the different ways of doing a move- I might spend the first session feeling that out, just to see which one I’ll start with going forward as there’s almost always a way I’d like to do the move, so I’ll focus on that first.

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Rather than trying to find the best method, it could help to rule out the worst ones first. That’s an approach I usually take. There are several ways to do that, but here are two of my favorites.

First, make sure the end position that the method you are trying will work for the rest of the climb. Maybe the kneebar gets you to the hold, but removing it once you are there is more work than it is worth. The toe hook might seem good, but does it leave you too stretched out to do anything after you get to the hold? Same thing with left vs. right hand to the next hold. If neither feels significantly better for doing the move, is there one that sets you up better for the rest of the problem? Getting a power spot through the move with several of those methods will let you get to the end position and rule out which ones won’t work. There will likely be some obvious ones to omit.

Second, is to stress test your methods by doing them from a few moves into the problem. Some moves feel good when you pull off of the ground straight into them, but feel impossible from the start. How realistic is it to set up for the hand match from the ground? Can you reliably set the toe hook or kneebar? Sometimes the fastest method to set up for is the best way to go because of the energy it saves you.

Rule out the bad options before you hunt for the best one. It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting a beta to work so badly that you don’t take a step back to see how bad it really is.