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How To Read a Climbing Gym Route!

"The Climbing Sensei," Justen Sjong gives us seven steps to reading a sport route.

Set yourself up for projecting successfully. Climbing technique is important, but there is a process before you even leave the ground. It's called "Previewing."

Justen Sjong. Full of knowledge bombs.

Follow these seven steps before getting on your next project:

1. Become aware of where the line goes. Step back and follow the line up the wall.
2. Preview the first 15 feet. If you can get into a rhythm of climbing well for the first 15, that might get you into a good enough rhythm for the rest of the climb. Then try previewing 30 feet. Can you do all the hands? (Just focus on handholds while previewing; don’t worry about the feet.)
3. Make note of the cruxes in detail. Most people see where the crux is, but they don’t do a very good job of asking ‘What is it that might be causing the crux? Is it the size of the hold? Or is the move risky and that’s why I'm hesitating?’ This will help you become aware of what might be causing fear and anxious behavior.
4. More important than identifying the crux... ask yourself, ‘Where does the route get easy again? Where are the thank you holds?’
5. Learn to see options—this will put you in a better place on the wall, and prevent you from getting bogged down and telling your partner to ‘take’ when you get frustrated. You have to be open-minded to winging it if 'Plan A' doesn’t work out.  
6. Next: Create a tempo. How quickly can you go through a climb? I encourage people to actually count because when you count, you hear a cadence. Zero is the start hold, X is the finish. Counting sets the tone for some type of authority.
7. Finally, (the most important part of previewing): Make notes of what you did AFTER the climb. (Remember, you're red-pointing.) When you’re back on the ground, ask yourself immediately, ‘What did I just do?’ If you wait too long, you’re going to lose the perspective; you’re going to look at the climb and think ‘No way did I step on that; I’m not that tall, or I’m not that short.’ Make key notes immediately so that you’re 100% ready for your next attempt! 
Here's Justen telling Max that he needs new shoes.

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