MCofS Coaching in Climbing


MCofS Coaching Symposium 2013

MCofS Coach Induction 2012

Coaching children at the Climbing Rocks Festival at Ratho

Coaching Performance Climbing & Long Term Athlete Development

The MCofS has begun a coach development scheme to train climbing coaches to deliver performance coaching.

The development of performance coaching is focused on a process known as Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD). LTAD is intended to develop a sports person’s skills and potential in a constructive manner whilst preventing injury, ‘early burn out’ and retirement from the sport, and enable athletes to continue their sport throughout their lives. It is now the recognised manner for all sports in the UK to undertake coaching.

LTAD operates on the following 5 stages:

  • FUNdamental
  • Learning to Train & Training to Train
  • Training to Compete
  • Training to Win
  • Retirement & Retainment

The following is an example of a five stage progression relating to climbing (based on the UK Athletics model) for long term athlete development (NB: the stages are not just relevant to children but to any adult from novice to elite):

Coaching Course:

Climbing Progression (yrs climbing)

Age Range for Children:



(Stage 1)



Emphasis is on fun whilst developing basic fitness and general movement skills

Intro courses at walls; school walls; YCS coaching; NICAS level 1-3

(Stage 2)



Learning how to train and develop general skills

Courses at walls; YCS coaching; NICAS level 4&5



Emphasis is on sport specific training

Courses at walls; YCS coaching; NICAS Level 5

(Stage 3)



Emphasis is on correcting weaknesses and developing athletic abilities

SYCC coaching; National Team coaching; British & International coaching

(Stage 4)



Emphasis is on enhancing elite performance

SYCC coaching; National Team coaching; British & International Team coaching

Retirement / Retainment
(Stage 5)

Any Age

Any Age

Maintaining a healthy enjoyment of the sport and contributing to the next generation through coaching & management etc.


MCofS Coaching Workshops

The MCofS offers a series of workshops in coaching practices in climbing in the first (FUNdamentals) stage of LTAD. These workshops will be required modules for the Mountain Training Coach Awards due to be launched in 2013. Initially the awards will concentrate on Coach Level 1 and Level 2. As development proceeds with Level 3, we shall add workshops covering modules required relating to the training and competing stages of LTAD.

The Primary School Climbing Experience

The MCofS FUNdamentals of Climbing 1

The MCofS FUNdamentals of Climbing 2

The MCofS Advanced Technique Workshop (First dates start in April/May 2014 - Dates & Booking available soon)

The MCofS Physical Training Workshop


MCofS Coaching Symposiums

The first MCofS Symposium was held in May 2013 - a report can be found below in 'COACHING NEWS'. Further Symposiums will be organised and notifications will be posted here. The BMC also hold a annual Coaching Seminar and details of these will be posted here.

The second MCofS Coaching Symposium will be held in April/May 2014.





MCofS Inaugural Coaching Symposium 2013




Affordable Distance Learning Courses


Supporting MCofS Sports Development



Report by Kevin Howett

On Saturday 11th May  the MCofS held its first Coaching Sympsoium at EICA: Ratho. Aimed at those MCofS Endorsed Coaches delivering our events, volunteers, instructors and coaches working within MCofS Kids Clubs, those older children mentoring within the Kids Clubs, climbing wall youth squad coaches and MCofS Area Youth Coordinators. The event was arranged and deliverd by members of the MCS Coaching Development Group and selected guest lecturers. The symposium was an opportunity for climbing coaches to attend a series of workshops on a wide variety of subjects currently not available through other awards but which will complement the MCofS FUNdamentals Workshop content, particularly the new FUNdamentals 2 and FUNdamentals 3 due to be launched in Scotland later this year.


PHOTOS: MCofS / Kevin Howett


Over 30 coaches attended including many young aspirant coaches from within the Kids Club - which bodes well for the future. The Symposium kicked off with a run down of the MCofS Coaching Development initiatives, including the work of the Development Group and the deelopment of the workshops by Kevin Howett (Sport Development Oficer). Graeme Morrison (Mountain Training Sscotland Chair, MTUK Coaching Management Group member and MCofS Development Group member and FUNdas Moderator) brought everyone up to date with the progress on Level 1 and Level 2 Coaching Awards. The participants then split into workshops following 2 different 'pathways': roughly following FUNdas 1&2 (Coach Level 1) and FUNdas 3 (Coach Level 2).

The workshops were a mix of lecture-style theory and hands-on practical sessions:

Pathway Level 1:

Jon Jones and George McEwan delivered an introduction to Coaching Process in 2 parts: the theory and then the practical application of it, which involved a fair bit of role-play and experimentation. Pamela Millar then investigated what advice and level of coaching should be delivered to young climbers in competition teams or squads focusing on the diffference between different age groups from age 8 to 16. Finally, Theresa Tait delivered advice on injury prevention, focusing on how stretching can help. This was both a brief intro to physiology of the most common climbing injuries and practical demonstrations of activities that help. It was by far the most noisy workshop!

Pathway Level 2:

Ross Lorimer started this level with the theory of what a coach actually is and how taking a Climber-Centred approach will help long term performance through empowering the climber. Rodrigo Aspe looked at strength & conditioning and its role in climbing training and whether it is betetr to climb to train or to train to climb! Following this discusison on some of the theory, Eleanor Hopkins then took everyone though a series of core exercises that junior coaches can show children which dont require direct supervision. This had many of the coaches struggling to keep up with the youngsters. The final session was an introduction to Human Physiology by Ross Lorimer, focusing on the physical demands of climbing. Ross dispelled a few myths regarding the casueation of 'Pump' and 'shaking out' for recovery.

The day finished with a brief resume of Abertay University's Science Support Survey and Research, undertaken by Ross Lorimer on behalf of the MCofS. The purpose was "to investigate climbers perceptions of coaching and scientific support, and areas where our knowledge is lacking".

Symposium Presenters were:

  • Kevin Howett (MCofS Sports Development Officer)
  • Graeme Morrison (MTS Chief Officer; MCofS FUNdamentals Coach Moderator)
  • Ross Lorimer (Programme Tutor, University of Abertay, Dundee)
  • Jon Jones (Head of Mountaineering, Glenmore Lodge)
  • George McEwan (MTS Executive Officer)
  • Rodrigo Aspe (Strength &Conditioning Coach, University of Abertay, Dundee)
  • Pamela Millar (Senior Instructor, EICA: Ratho)
  • Eleanor Hopkins (Irish Junior Climbing Team Member & MCofS Aspirant Coach)
  • Theresa Tait (Massage Therapist, EICA: Ratho)












MCofS Scottish Coach Induction Day 2012

Report by Neil McGeachy (MCofS National Coach)

PHOTOS: Ross Hunter

Sunday the 4th March saw Scottish coaches descend on Perth High School for the first MCofS Coaches Gathering and Induction. The event was attended by coaches, who are active within the varied Scottish Youth Development scene, as well as Area Youth Coordinators.

The ethos of this event was to provide an opportunity for professionals to come together and share ideas, observe coaching techniques and discuss up and coming initiatives the MCofS aim to deliver over the coming months.

The gathering also served as an opportunity to introduce the current three-tier MCofS Youth Coaching Structure [Aspirant Coach, Assistant Coach and Full Coach], outlining the job descriptions of each post and explaining the pathways in place [i.e. shadowing and training] to progress through the structure.

The day kicked off with talks from:

  • Tony McClelland [Head of Outdoor Education - Perth High School]. Discussing the story of climbing within the school set up. Explaining how he came about obtaining such a great climbing facility and how this has grown in to one of the most successful regional climbing development initiatives in Scotland.
  • Neil McGeachy [ReAch Coaching and MCofS Scottish Team Coach]. Discussing the roles of MCofS, its coaches and setters in the development of Scottish Team members. Also discussing the MCofS Youth Development Ethos of promoting increased pathways in to the outdoors for climbers of all levels and ages. Aiming to promote varied and active life long futures within the sport for our country's young climbers.
  • Neill Busby [MCofS British Team Representative]. Discussing how MCofS works to help nurture and support our country's elite young climbers. He talked about coaching support, previous and current success stories and future ambitions.

These talks provided a great over view of how healthy all levels of youth development within Scottish climbing are. They also illustrated how well these levels serve in supporting each other and provide clear logical support pathways in the climbing journey;

  • Numbers are up in all Scottish competitions,
  • Regional youth clubs and performance squads are popping up all over the place,
  • The school climbing competitions scene is growing massively and beginning to feed the Youth Climbing Series
  • Outdoor Real Rock Initiatives are being better attended than ever
  • We have enjoyed an 8 year period of producing many of the UK's most successful International competitors. Currently holding 9 slots on the British Junior Climbing Squad.

This continued growth and development means more than ever we need a diverse and extensive pool of MCofS performance coaches to draw from and also require a strategy in place to begin the process of bringing through future coaches and making the whole set up more sustainable long term. This Gathering and Induction was the beginning of this process.

After the talks the coaches were given time to study the hand outs provided on 'Training Guidelines for YCS Finalists'. These documents offered info on MCofS and ReAch's stance on appropriate training and injury avoidance when coaching young performance climbers.

The day then progressed to a series of short coaching workshops delivered by a selection of assistant coaches and full coaches on the MCofS coaching program. The Coaching Workshops Delivered were:

  • Pamela Miller - Coaching route reading and sequence memory
  • Neill Busby - Balance and body positioning on steep ground
  • Ian Sneddon - Variety of uses of Add on in coaching
  • Natalie Berry - Competition Tactics
  • Ross Kirkland - Activities for coaching precise footwork
  • Ross Hunter - Using video analysis in coaching
  • Neil McGeachy - Coaching momentum and advance balance techniques

The day rounded up with an opportunity for everyone to have a group discussion on the role of coaching within youth development and how we can build on the success of the current set up.

All in all the day was a great success and as a member of the MCofS coaching team for more than 12 years, it was extremely rewarding to see so many of the aspirants, assistants and coaches in attendance being young climbers who have progressed through the set up as talented climbers themselves; thus showing the on-going culture of Scottish Climbers putting something back into the development of the sport. Very exciting times lies ahead.