The Little Things


My bag vibrated as I dropped it down on the mat, I ignored it - well in the zone, pulled on and dispatched an eliminate I'd just set. Set to the rules - big moves, open handed. It flowed easily, I caught the big press out left with ease and the flick to the flat ledge with my right went down without any bother. Something was different, I was climbing in a different way than I ever had before. Sure I'm not yet as strong as I was in the past, but perhaps that was it. I was climbing in a more mature way, not just pulling hard through the moves.  

I was focussing on the little things - the details. 

I remember in my early twenties watching the video of Jerry Moffatt and Ben Moon out in Utah. Two things stuck with me, Ben Moon put up Black Lung and Moffatt commented that you can still do hard stuff in your thirties as you have the climbing history, you're more mature. 

I remember at the time thinking that was a long way off. Well, I'm there now gray hairs and all. Well Moffatt was right, those little details and that climbing history matter.  It's not just a history of technique or training either, it's an understanding of the details in your body.  

As I dropped to the mat I picked up my phone from my chalkbag it was my remote physio  'it's the attention to detail' the text started.

Just before I hit the wall I'd come off a long Skype call with my Physio and ex training partner Huffy, he's a mm who knows his details. Remotely working through my elbow and finger problems he assessed and diagnosed. My elbow has made great progress  and is now fine to climb normally on. Huffy made a diagnosis on my finger and a buddy taping technique that allows me to climb with very little pain. 

I realised how fortunate I am to have so many great climbers as friends who focus heavily on the details, they matter. In the same way Huffy,  Dave Mason has been a great support on my training regime, getting down to the finer points - even commenting and fixing the position of my shoulder blades when I fingerboard. 

I've met many people at the gym in NYC who are newish to climbing, they get fairly strong inside  - but watching them climb makes you realise what they lack - the attention to detail. 

Moffatt was right, it matters. 

Neal Mann

New York City