Sanchez, X., Lambert, P., Jones, G., & Llewellyn, D. J. (2012). Efficacy of pre-ascent climbing route visual inspection in indoor sport climbing. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 22, 67-72.

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"Pre-ascent climbing route visual inspection (route preview) has been suggested as a key climbing performance parameter although its role has never been verified experimentally."

This study examined the efficacy of visual inspection on indoor sport climbing performance. Male climbers (N = 29), divided into intermediate, advanced, and expert climbing level groups, climbed two indoor sport routes matched to their climbing level and, where applicable, routes below their climbing level. At each level, one route was climbed with a preview, where Ss benefited from a 3-minute pre-ascent climbing route visual inspection. Performance was assessed in terms of output (route completion) and form (number and duration of moves and stops).

Route preview did not influence the output performance. Ss using visual inspection were no more likely to finish the ascent than those without the option of using visual inspection. Conversely, route preview did influence climbing form. Ss made fewer and shorter stops during the ascent following a preview of the route. Form performance differences remained when baseline ability levels were taken into account, although shorter duration stops occurred only in expert climbers.

Implication. Visually inspecting a climb before its ascent improves climbing form but not overall performance.

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