The British Mountaineering Council is the National Governing Body for all aspects of mountaineering and climbing. Funded by Sport England, the development of a talent pathway for climbing is a new concept, in the rapidly developing world of competition climbing.
I was employed as the strategic lead for Technical:Tactical profiling as part of the team to develop profiling tools for climbing coaches. Keen to demonstrate that there is more to climbing talent than just technical or physical prowess, we had to develop methods for measuring these skills, and benchmarking a standard, andmeasures to improve and develop performance.
The first port of call was to research near neighbour sports (especially those involved in competition for many more years, like GB Canoeing and SnowSport UK) to explore their measures for tactical/technical skill. The leading sport was GB Sailing from the RYA with a world class profiling system.
The next stage was to explore the development of a Tactical Skills Inventory, as used in a Dutch study for soccer and field hockey. Using this process, we engaged leading coaches to list both the attributes of technical and tactical skill, and to populate descriptrs for a scale from unnacceptable weakness to super-strength at each level of the talent pathway (from Regional Academy to World Class Podium). This initial experiment yielded results which were simple to use, fit for purpose, and developed by the coaches – and thus ensuring cultural buy-in.
We are now in the testing and pilot phase of the project, and look forward to this insight being rolled out to develop both climber and coach education in the future.