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Taylor 2020 Anovel toolfor the assessment of rock climber performance

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Climbing performance analysis: A novel tool for the assessment of rock
climber's movement performance
Article in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance · January 2020
6 authors, including:
Nicola Taylor
Dave Giles
University of Derby
Lattice Training Ltd
Michaela Panáčková
James Mitchell
Charles University in Prague
University of Derby
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Climbing performance analysis
Page 1 of 13
A novel tool for the assessment of rock climber’s movement performance
Nicola Taylor1, David Giles2* Micha Panáčková3, James Mitchell1, Joel Chidley1, Nick
School of Human Sciences, College of Life and Natural Sciences, University of Derby, UK
Health and Social Care Research Centre, Health and Social Care, University of Derby, UK
Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Prague, CZ
School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ
Purpose: To assess the validity and reliability of a novel movement performance
assessment tool for climbing/sport climbing. Methods: Firstly, salient climbing movement
performance factors were identified through an iterative consultation process with ten expert
climbing coaches; the resulting Climber’s Movement Performance Assessment Tool (CMPAT) contained 14 items in five categories. Secondly, 61 intermediate to advanced climbers
ascending a single route, which was video recorded. Subsequently, four experienced (>10 years
coaching) coaches used the CM-PAT to observe and score the climbers performance. Interrater reliability and comparisons with existing measures of climbing performance (six-month
self-reported ability, success and failure, climbing pace [m.min-1] and geometric entropy [GE])
were made. Results: Intra-Class Correlation Coefficient (ICC 2,k), for the four raters
demonstrated excellent reliability (>0.81) between observers, and good to excellent test – retest
reliability (0.71 – 0.91). Pearson’s correlations between self-reported ability and CM-PAT
scores explained 61% variance in self-reported climbing performance compared to 16% for
GE and 52% for climbing pace. Considering differences in successful and unsuccessful
climbers, the CM-PAT (p < .0005; d = 2.14), GE (p = .014; d = .67) and pace (p < .0005; d =
1.88) were able to differentiate between groups. Conclusion: The CM-PAT is the first sport
climbing performance observational instrument to be developed through a thorough iterative
process with expert coaches. Excellent inter-rater and test-retest reliability and excellent
agreement with self-reported ability existing quantitative measures of performance, support its
recommendation for use in coaching and research contexts. Notably, a key advantage over
existing measures is the identification of coachable elements of performance.
Key Words
Climbing; Performance Analysis; Observation; Coaching
Climbing performance analysis
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Despite climbing being recognised as a sport that requires a high level of coordination
and technique1, climbing research has predominately focused on physiological and
psychological aspects of performance2-5. Analysing key technical and tactical factors of
performance has become common practice in mainstream sport6, where performance analysis
techniques are used as an information source for the coaching process 7. Equally, the systematic
observations of the application of skill and technique during a climber’s ascent are an important
element of the climbing coaching process8. In spite of this, there has been limited development
and use of observational instruments for climbing performance. In part, this may be attributed
to the complexities of climbing, which allows multiple movement solutions to successfully
ascend a route and depend on dynamic interactions between climber and environment 9;
however, while these issues are challenging, they are not insurmountable. Consequently, there
is a need for the development of an instrument that will allow the use of systematic observation
strategies that enable the climbing coach to provide feedback based on the essential
characteristics of performance, as well as providing a framework on which future practice
sessions can be based10.
Gross measures of success and failure have provided indicators of climbing performance
in a small number of studies, but these measures provide no insight as to movement
performance en route3, 11. Equally, whilst scoring systems are used in competition events,
where scores are determined by outcomes such as how far (high) participants achieve on an
ascent of a route and the number of holds used12, information on the quality of ascents such as
the execution of skilled movement and tactical components are not part of such measures. The
same is also true with the application of time-motion analysis 13, 14, and indices of the fluency
of the displacement of climbers centre of mass, such as the geometric index of entropy 15, 16. As
a result, in order to gain further insight into the quality of climbing performance, several studies
have attempted to analyse the technical and tactical factors through the design and validation
of observational tools17-19. Whilst these studies contribute to our current understanding of
climbing movement, the application of these studies and the instruments are limited due to their
context-specific nature. For example, Hardy and Hutchinson17 Climbing Performance
Evaluation Inventory (CPEI) is designed to assess traditional lead climbing performance.
Equally, Hernández Hernández et al.18 observational instrument was designed for the
observation of top rope climbing in low level beginner climbers. The future application is
therefore limited for both research and coaching purposes due to the specific nature of these
instruments. This highlights the need for the development of a valid and reliable observational
tool to assess sport climbing movement performance. Such an instrument would provide and
important performance measure for coaches and researchers.
As participation in recreational climbing increases, so will the demand for effective
coaching and reliable resources to further develop performance20. The same is also true for
elite athletes, who undoubtedly receive more attention due to the recent inclusion of climbing
as an Olympic event in Tokyo, 202021 and as a proposed event for Paris 202422. At these events
it is likely that three forms of climbing will be on display; sport lead climbing (the focus of our
study), speed climbing (a fixed route, ascended as quickly as possible) and bouldering (short,
Climbing performance analysis
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powerful routes low to the ground protected by crash matting). Overall, research to date has
not clearly identified the salient technical and tactical factors of climbing performance. This is
likely, at least in part, to be the result of the lack of an instrument with which to quantify
climbing performance. The aim of our study was to assess the reliability and validity of a novel
performance assessment tool, the Climber’s Movement Performance Assessment Tool (CMPAT), for sport climbing.
The CM-PAT instrument was developed using an iterative two-part process consisting
of (1) consultation and development with expert climbing coaches and (2) reliability and
agreement with existing quantitative measures. The process was comparable to that used by
Chidley, MacGregor, Martin, Arthur and Macdonald23 to explore characteristics that explain
performance in downhill mountain biking. All participants volunteered to take part in the study,
provided informed consent and health history and the study was approved by the institutional
ethics committee and conformed to the Declaration of Helsinki.
Part One
Through selective sampling 10 expert coaches of regional and national level were invited
to contribute to the development of a climbing performance rating scale to be used for both
coaching and research purposes using the Delphi method24. The expert coaches were asked to
consider salient factors that identify the quality of climbing performance during an indoor lead
ascent. It was highlighted that salient factors should not be tied to specific moves (e.g., a rock
over), which may, or may not, be present in each performance. Rather, they should describe
factors that are common to all movements, differentiating between those that are
inappropriately selected and poorly executed and those that are appropriate and perfectly
executed (and those in-between). Completed by email and in person, through an iterative
process an extensive lists of performance factors were identified. Ambiguous terms were
defined, and duplicates removed, and the factors were then categorised into common areas.
A second round of consultation allowed for further refinement, through identifying areas
that were either not represented or highlighting confounding issues. To confirm the face
validity of the identified climbing movement performance factors, coaches were asked to
compare the identified items against the following definition of skill in climbing provided a
point of reference: “the ability to co-ordinate a series of complex, whole body, movements to
ascend a predefined route with economy of movement”, developed based on the work of Orth
et al.9 and Pijpers, Oudejans, Holsheimer and Bakker25. Coaches comments were reviewed,
domains refined, and a final list of factors circulated for their consideration.
The final movement performance scale consisted of five categories (subscales)
containing 14 items. The performance scale categories and items (in parenthesis) are shown in
Error! Reference source not found.Table 1. A score sheet was developed based on a 5-point
scale and each item had a unique descriptor for a poor or non-existent component (1) and a
flawless demonstration of skilled performance (5). From the scale, it was possible to calculate
an average score for each of the five categories; base of support, transitioning, co-ordination,
Climbing performance analysis
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technique and tactics. As set out, the scale allows for climbing routes to be scored as an overall
performance and in two halves; as a lower halve and upper halve, thus providing information
on the consistency of a performance. The full CM-PAT is provided in the supplementary
material (Supplementary Material 1).
Table 1: Sport Climbing Assessment Tool (CM-PAT) movement performance variables,
subscales, and definitions.
Category (Subscales)
Base of Support
Accuracy and precision /
Transitioning Movement
Dynamic balance / Fluidity
and linking / Exploratory
movements / Sequencing
movement initiation /
Extension and body
Repertoire of movement
skills and techniques
Tempo / Commitment and
confidence / Rests /
Climbers interface with the holds on routes with both their hands and feet, which
form the climber’s base of support. Accurate and precise placements without
readjustments to facilitate efficient economical climbing movement.
Ascending a route requires climbers to use momentum to link moves between
positions, whilst remaining in balance. Fluidly in transitions between movements
allows the maintenance of momentum. To facilitate these movements, the
climber must observe and execute sequences of movements without mistakes,
hesitation, or the need to reach out and feel hand and foot holds.
The climber must coordinate the whole body in the correct sequence throughout
whole movements, whilst extending and maintaining body tension, without
unnecessary movement, in order to keep weight over the base of support.
The climber must select appropriate movements for the routes, skilfully apply
techniques, employ the most biomechanically advantageous form of movement
to complete a given move and route.
Whilst ascending the route, the climber must make a number of tactical
decisions, including the selection of pace appropriate to the difficulties of the
route, ascending without hesitation and select appropriate rest positions and
clipping positions that minimise unnecessary energy expenditure.
Part Two
To establish the inter-rater reliability and agreement with existing metrics of climbing
movement performance (self-reported ability, success and failure, climbing pace and geometric
entropy) of the CM-PAT, four experienced coaches observed and scored video recordings of
61 climbing performances.
Sixty-one climbers (14 female: height 1.68 ± 0.05 m; mass 61.1 ± 6.9 kg; years climbing
8 ± 6 yr; 47 male: height 1.76 ± 0.07 m; mass 69.6 ± 5.7 kg; years climbing 9 ± 8 yr) volunteered
to participate. Participants were included based on their six-month self-reported on-sight ability
of between French 6a to 6c+ (International Rock Climbing Research Association grade scale
[IRCRA] 11 to 16; YDS 5.10b to 5.11c), classified as intermediate to advanced 26, 27.
Climbing performance analysis
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Experienced Coaches
Four experienced (>10 years coaching) coaches (referred to hereafter as raters) watched
the video recordings and assessed the climbing performance using the finalised version of the
CM-PAT (Supplementary Material 1). The raters were not informed of the self-reported
climbing grades of each participant. Prior to the rating procedure, the lead researcher (NT) coordinated the evaluation procedure of the observational analysis of performance, the aim was
to introduce and explain each of the CM-PAT items and categories, as well as providing a
familiarisation period for using the CM-PAT whilst observing the video recordings. The
familiarisation period consisted of the four raters watching and scoring a series of five ascents
(not used in later analysis), following each the lead researcher reviewed and clarified the
scoring with the rater, this was repeated until consistency across the group was achieved
(within ~3 views of each video). Following this familiarisation period, all raters watched all
recordings in a randomised order, providing a score for each of the CM-PAT subscales. To
determine the test-retest reliability of the CM-PAT one of the raters was also provided with a
randomised subset of 20 of the videos for re-assessment, one month after initially rating the
climber’s performances.
Participants attempted a single on-sight lead climb (without prior practice) ascent of a
route 14.1 m in length, with a 1.6 m overhang, that was graded French 6b (12 IRCRA; YDS
5.10c). As participants of a range of abilities were asked to complete the route, the route was
set so the bottom half was graded f6a and the top half f6b+, providing an overall grade of f6b.
The easier first half of the route ensured all participants could reach at least the third quickdraw,
reducing the chances of a ground fall. After the first quickdraw at 3.1 meters, the distances
between the next nine quickdraws were 1.2 ± 0.1 meters. Participants were provided with a
period of up to five minutes for visual inspection of the route, immediately prior to their
Self-Reported Ability
Climbers reported the on-sight (OS; without prior practice) grade for which they have
completed three successful ascents on three different routes (at the grade) within the six months
prior to data collection26. The validity of self-reported climbing ability has previously been
established by Draper et al.27 in this study. The authors asked twenty-nine competitive
climbers, of a range of abilities, were asked to report their current ability and then ascend a
route that incrementally increased in difficulty, the distance achieved on the route represented
their assessed ability. There were no significant or meaningful differences between selfreported grade and the grade achieved, although there were slight over- and under-estimations
in male and females respectively. As such, the self-report method has been used for on-sight
and red-point performance extensively within the literature. In addition to climbing ability,
climbers’ experience, in terms of the number of years they have been taking part in the sport
was collected based on IRCRA guidelines26.
Climbing performance analysis
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Quantitative Indices of Climbing Performance
Movement performance analysis was made based on video-recorded (Panasonic HD
V720 digital video camera) lead climb ascents. Due to the challenges of recording in a climbing
wall, the camera was set up 10 meters from the base of the route, at 1.5 meters’ height. The
placement of the camera at the base of the route necessitated the correction of the perspective
of the video files prior to their digitisation for the calculation of geometric entropy. Had the
video files been left in their raw, unedited form, the digitalisation would have overemphasised
the size and velocity of the movements in the lower half of the route and underemphasised the
movements in the upper half of the route. The videos perspective were corrected in Adobe
Photoshop (Adobe Systems Software Ireland Ltd.). From the recorded videos, the following
variables were calculated:
Success or Failure. Failure on the climb was recorded if the climber fell from the route before
reaching the last hold or used a hold from another route (success or failure).
Climbing Time. Total climbing time (s) was recorded as the time between the climber’s second
foot leaving the floor and the climber holding the last hold on the route, or the time at the point
of failure.
Pace of Ascent. The climbers’ pace of ascent was calculated as follows:
𝑃𝑎𝑐𝑒 =
∙ 60
where pace is meters of climbing per minute (m.min-1), t = time (s), d = distance (m).
Geometric Entropy. It is possible to quantify the fluency of movement through the analysis of
the path of the centre of mass of a climber over the course of an ascent, the geometric index of
entropy quantifies the paths relative complexity15, 16. The x and y coordinates of the climbers’
position was digitised throughout their ascent of the route. A single point on the middle back
of the harness was chosen as an approximation of the climber's centre of mass to represent the
climbers’ displacement over the entire route28. Several studies have used the single-point path
of the centre of mass11, 15, 16, 25, 28. The chosen point was manually digitalised into x and y
coordinates using Tracker (Version 4.92; Open Source Physics). A one-meter marker was used
at the top and the bottom of the route to calibrate distance in the Tracker software. Lateral
displacement (1.6 m) was not taken into consideration due to the change in displacement
consistent over the length of the route. The slow nature of climbing, with each climb lasting
between one minute eleven seconds and five minutes, and the need for manual digitalisation
necessitated the use of a 5 Hz sampling frequency. The geometric entropy of the climbers’ path
was calculated from the digitised x and y coordinates. Two variables were calculated, the line
of motion (LM) and the convex hull (CH). Geometric entropy (GE) was expressed as the
natural logarithm of two times the LM divided by the CH:
𝐺𝐸 = log
2 × 𝐿𝑀
Climbing performance analysis
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The convex hull was calculated as the value of the perimeter around the LM 15, 16.
Statistical Analysis
All statistical analyses were performed using SPSS v. 24 (IBM Corp, Armonk, NY). The
level of statistical significance was set at p < .05. To examine the inter-rater reliability of
coaches using the CM-PAT, the Intra-Class Correlation Coefficient (ICC), 2-way random
measures (absolute agreement) was used to analyse the internal consistency. Test – retest
reliability was determined using ICC, standard error of measurement (SEM), and smallest
detectable change (SDC). In accordance with Fleiss 29, an ICC value above 0.75 is considered
to indicate excellent reliability, 0.4 - 0.74 fair to good reliability, and <0.4 poor reliability. To
examine the agreement of the CM-PAT with existing measures of performance differences in
the subjective assessments of climber’s skill, climbing time and geometric entropy were
compared between climbers grouped into whole letter grades using a one-way ANOVA (6a/+
- IRCRA 11-12; 6b/+ IRCRA 13-14; 6c/+ - IRCRA 15-16). Partial eta squared ηp2 was used as
an estimation of effect size. The variance in self-reported ability explained by the CM-PAT,
GE and pace was confirmed using Pearson’s product moment correlations. Differences in
scores between successful and unsuccessful climbers were also considered using an
independent samples t-test (successful vs. unsuccessful) using Bonferroni’s correction for
multiple comparisons (level of significance taken as p = .05 multiplied by the number of
comparisons made) and Cohen’s d to estimate the size of the effect.
Four raters used the CM-PAT to independently observe and score a total of 61 climbers
across the 5 categories and 14 items. Reliability between observer scores was excellent (> 0.81)
with lower confidence intervals of at least good (0.61 – 0.80) when using the CM-PAT,
demonstrating high reliability between raters (Table 2). To determine test – retest reliability
one rater used the CM-PAT to re-assess 20 climber’s performances one month after initial
assessment (~33% of performances). Test-retest reliability was excellent (0.92) for total score.
Sub-scores also had excellent reliability (0.71 – 0.91). Reliability data are presented in Table 2.
Table 2: Reliability data for (a) inter-rater reliability (ICC) of total CM-PAT score and sub
categories for four rater (b) test – retest reliability for a single rater using the CM-PAT for the
assessment of 20 ascents.
Inter-rater reliability
ICC (95% CI)
Total Score
.94 (.91 – .96)
Base of Support
.86 (.79 – .91)
.93 (.90 – .96)
.86 (.79 – .91)
.93 (.89 – .95)
.90 (.78 – .95)
Notes: ICC intra-class correlation coefficient; 95% CI 95%
measurement; SDC, smallest detectable change
Test-retest reliability
ICC (95% CI)
0.92 (.47 – .98)
0.81 (.39 – .98)
0.89 (.32 – .97)
0.73 (.32 – .91)
0.71 (.31 – .91)
0.90 (.49 – .98)
confidence intervals; SEM, standard
error of
Climbing performance analysis
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Differences in performance descriptors between ability groupings were significant for all
characteristics including total and subscale CM-PAT scores, GE 1st half and climbing pace, but
not total and top-half GE (Table 3). The lack of significance in total and top half geometric
entropy occurred due to only being able to calculate a score for a complete route section
(bottom or top), meaning that those climbers who were unsuccessful were unable to receive a
score (successful climbers: 6a/+ = 3, 6b/+ = 13 & 6c/+ = 24). The variation in OS grades
explained by CM-PAT total and sub scores was > 50% in all cases, GE only explained small
variation, while pace was comparable to that of the CM-PAT (52%).
Table 3: Differences in success, CM-PAT score, geometric entropy and climbing pace between
climbers categorised into ‘whole letter’ on-sight grades 6a/+ (IRCRA 11-12), 6b/+ (IRCRA
12-13) and 6c/+ (IRCRA 14-15) and variance explained (R 2) was calculated from Pearson’s
product moment correlations with OS grades.
(n = 17)
(n = 20)
(n = 24)
ηp 2
Successful =
Total Score
33.4 ± 6.1
40.9 ± 6.1 a
51.4 ± 7.7 a, b
< .0005
Base of Support
2.7 ± 0.4
3.2 ± .4 a
3.8 ± .5 a, b
< .0005
2.4 ± 0.5
2.9 ± .5 a
3.8 ± .6 a, b
< .0005
2.6 ± 0.5
3.1 ± .5 a
3.7 ± .6 a, b
< .0005
2.1 ± 0.4
2.7 ± .5 a
3.4 ± .7 a, b
< .0005
2.4 ± 0.6
3.1 ± .5 a
3.8 ± .6 a, b
< .0005
GE 1st Half
.909 ± .148
.810 ± .123 a
.783 ± .109 a
GE 2nd Half
1.001 ± .369
.886 ± .144
.902 ± .133
GE Total
.994 ± .231
.884 ± .127
.884 ± .117
Pace (m.min-1)
3.1 ± 1.1
3.9 ± .8 a
5.2 ± 1.0 a, b
< .0005
Note: mean ± SD; GE geometric entropy; a significantly difference from 6a/+; b significantly different from 6b/+
Twenty-one of the 61 climbers to attempt the route were unsuccessful. Considering
differences in performance between successful and unsuccessful climbers, Table 4 presents
the results of a series of Bonferroni corrected independent samples t-tests. Mean differences
and confidence intervals indicate a substantive difference in CM-PAT score between groups,
along with GE and climbing pace.
Table 4: Mean differences and effect sizes for the CM-PAT, geometric entropy and climbing
pace between 40 successful (reached the top of the route) and 21 unsuccessful climbers.
Total Score
Base of Support
Mean Difference
< .0005*
< .0005*
< .0005*
< .0005*
< .0005*
Climbing performance analysis
Page 9 of 13
< .0005*
GE 1 Half
Pace (m.min-1)
< .0005*
Note: LLCI lower limit 95% confidence interval; ULCI upper limit confidence interval; d Cohen’s d effect size;
GE geometric entropy. * Significant following Bonferroni correction
The findings of the present work have informed the design of the CM-PAT for the
determination of sport climber’s movement performance on sport lead routes. An iterative
consultation process resulted in the development of the CM-PAT, which is made up of 14 items
in five categories (i.e. base of support; transitioning, coordination, technical and tactical) that
together contribute to the description of skilful performance. Assessed inter-rater reliability
between the four observers was shown to be excellent (> 0.81), test re-test reliability was also
shown to be good to excellent (>0.71). The assessment of 61 climbers on a single route
demonstrated CM-PAT score to explain 61% variance in climbing performance, compared to
16% for geometric entropy and 52% for climbing pace. Secondly, considering ability groups
and successful and unsuccessful climbers the CM-PAT was able to describe differences in
observed performance, along with pace, but not geometric entropy. The CM-PAT offers
coaches a reliable observational tool that can differentiate between ability groups and
successful and unsuccessful climbers, while also providing coachable information, improving
on existing performance measures and observational tools.
The complex and multifaceted nature of climbing necessitates the need to identify
common factors without losing the gestalt of the movement 30. Each climbing route affords
movement solutions that are dependent on individual characteristics (e.g. individual’s
physiology, psychological and anthropometric characteristics), making it difficult to prescribe
one method of ascent. In the present study, the intention was to construct a scale for assessing
the invariant features of skilful climbing movement as opposed to discrete movements, based
on the definition of “the ability to co-ordinate a series of complex, whole body, movements to
ascend a predefined route with economy of movement” 9. The CM-PAT score is comprised of
five sub-scales of ‘base of support’, ‘transitioning’, ‘co-ordination’, ‘technique’ and ‘tactics’
(see Table 1 for descriptions of each); as the subscales were able to differentiate between
ability groups and between success and failure (Tables 3 & 4) the subscales provide users,
such as coaches, with a means of quantifying changes in individual facets of performance and
the subscales of performance provide athletes with specific actionable feedback. Although
several studies have previously attempted to construct observational instruments to assess
technical and tactical aspects of climbing performance17-19 the instruments were limited to
specific climbing disciplines or ability levels. Alternatively, measures such as geometric
entropy15, 16 and climbing pace provide quantitative measures of performance, but do not
provide coaches or climbers with coachable, actionable observations. Furthermore, geometric
entropy values are limited due to the need for the climber to either complete the entire route or
divide the route into sections (in the case of an incomplete ascent) to make comparisons
between climbers. Finally, climbing pace has questionable relevance due to the self-paced
Climbing performance analysis
Page 10 of 13
nature of the sport, with pacing being dependent on a multitude of factors including the route,
the climbers experience and their physiology. Thus, to our knowledge, this is the first study
within the climbing performance literature that has constructed an observational instrument to
assess lead climbing performance at a global level.
The CM-PAT scale is a valuable tool for coaches and researchers that allow for the
identification of coachable characteristics that could complement existing measures such as
geometric entropy and climbing time. However, several limitations should be acknowledged.
Firstly, the present study has demonstrated the use of CM-PAT to identify differences in skilled
movement within the constraints of a single route. The CM-PAT is useful tool monitoring the
development of skilled climbing movement within groups and comparing performances of
different climbers on the same route over time. However, due to the subjectivity of the scale,
results will be relative to the climbers’ ability and route difficulty and caution should be used
if the scale is to be used to compare results across different groups and routes. Secondly, a large
number of participants were assessed, however, they covered a relatively narrow ability range
(French 6a to 6c+; IRCRA 11 to 16; YDS 5.10b to 5.11c). Thirdly, the present study has
demonstrated the CM-PAT to be highly effective when applied by expert coaches following
familiarisation and training; this may be a limiting factor for further application of the tool, in
both research and the wider coaching community. Fourthly, it is possible that local acidosis
negatively affected co-ordination for climbers this may have partially explained some of the
differences seen in the CM-PAT scores between groups. Future research should (a) the validity
and reliability of the measure for higher grade climbers, (b) consider the reliability of CM-PAT
for assessing ‘real-time’ climbing performance as this is a likely scenario for coaches using
profiling tools; and (c) the modification of the scale for other climbing disciplines, such as the
Olympic disciplines of bouldering and speed climbing.
Practical Applications
The present study has demonstrated the reliability and utility of a sport lead climbing
performance observation tool, the CM-PAT. The observational instrument is of value to
climbers, coaches, and researchers for the objective assessment of climbing performance, not
only quantifying performance across five domains but also providing coachable observations.
For instance, coaches may use CM-PAT as criteria for profiling athletes as part of selection
events or to assist with talent identification. Finally, CM-PAT provides a framework for
observing and identifying coachable behaviours, this may be of particularly relevance for
developing education resources for coaches.
Consultation with expert coaches clearly identified the salient technical and tactical
factors of climbing performance, leading to the development of a novel climbing performance
assessment tool, the CM-PAT. The CM-PAT yielded consistent (reliable) observations of
global movement skills and techniques occurring in lead climbing performance. Demonstrating
the tools utility, the CM-PAT scores were able to explain 61% of the variance in self-reported
climbing performance and differentiate between successful and unsuccessful attempts at
ascending a route, while also providing specific coachable observations.
Climbing performance analysis
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No funding was received for the purposes of this study. The authors declare no conflicts
of interest. The results of the current study do not constitute endorsement of the product by the
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Supplementary Material 1
Climbers interface with the holds on routes with both their hands and feet, which form the climber’s base of support. Accurate
and precise placements without readjustments to facilitate efficient economical climbing movement.
Accuracy and precision hands
Accuracy and precision feet
Messy and uncontrolled, never placed
correctly first time / imprecise and noisy
/ constant adjustments
Messy and uncontrolled, never placed
correctly first time / imprecise and noisy
/ constant adjustments
Placed precisely and appropriately first
time, every time, quietly
Placed precisely and appropriately first
time, every time, quietly
Ascending a route requires climbers to use momentum to link moves between positions while remaining in balance. Fluidly
in transitions between movements allows the maintenance of momentum. To facilitate these movements, the climber should
observe and execute sequences of movements without mistakes, hesitation or the need to reach out and feel hand and foot
Dynamic Balance
Fluidity and linking
Exploratory Movements
Always out of balance in movements /
loss of control
Thrutchy / jerky movement
Frequent and extended exploration of
possible holds
Perfectly balanced throughout all
Smooth and effortless – rising leaf
Deliberate and purposeful movement
absence of exploratory moves
Never in correct sequence / frequent
unnecessary swaps / no plan
Movements always perfectly
The climber should coordinate the whole body in the correct sequence throughout whole movements, while extending and
maintaining body tension, without unnecessary movement, to keep weight over the base of support.
Movement Initiation
Movement initiated with arms
(Body tension)
Movement lacks tension and appears
loose, no demonstration of full
Where possible movements initiated
from lower body or momentum
Movement demonstrates body tension
and full extension when appropriate
The climber should select appropriate movements for the routes, skilfully apply techniques, employ the most biomechanically
advantageous form of movement to complete a given move and route.
Personal Selection/ Repertoire of
Limited repertoire of skill and technique.
Movement selection appears inefficient
for the individual and route
Arms are bent at inappropriate times
Demonstrates a broad repertoire of
skill and techniques applied
Straight arms when appropriate
While ascending the route, the climber should make a number of tactical decisions, including the selection of pace appropriate
to the difficulties of the route, ascending without hesitation, and select appropriate rest positions and clipping positions that
minimise unnecessary energy expenditure.
Inappropriate pace / does not change
pace to reflect harder and easier sections
Commitment and confidence
Frequent hesitation / afraid to move
above clip / does not fall – asking to be
Inefficient / poorly chosen / or not taken
advantage of opportunities for rest
Very poor clipping positions / inefficient
/ inappropriate / dangerous
Varied pace appropriate to movements
/ climbs through harder sections /
maximises opportunities for rest on
easier ground
Fully committed to every more / will
continue climbing until point of failure
Maximises available rests / efficient
and stable positions
Efficient / perfectly selected /
effortless / part of movements