You’ve spent a lot of time in the climbing gym lately and your motivation is starting to go?
We hear you.
Here are some fun ideas to spice up your training routine to keep you motivated, both on and off the rock!
These climbing games are an interesting addition to your regular routine on the climbing wall that can help you to train for longer and try new things.
(Not to mention)
Having fun while climbing is not just important for your brain and mind, but it will also improve your climbing.
And let’s face it; if it’s not fun, it’s not worth it anyway!
Indoor Climbing Wall Games
Here are some ideas of activities to integrate into your gym climbing routine, to keep you motivated and climbing at your best!
Climbing Games For Training
Now that you are warmed up and ready to go, here is a list of games that help you build endurance, practice how to fall, or focus on creative problem solving and using a wider variety of movements while rock climbing.
All of those things are important for a climber and it can be a good idea to tackle a weakness you have with a more playful approach.
This not only helps you to stay motivated as a climber, but it is also important that climbing is a relaxing pastime that helps you to take your mind off things.
So, whenever you get to the climbing or bouldering wall try to focus on just climbing to the best of your abilities and to have fun!
The progress will come automatically.
Dynos: For Range of Movement
Pick a set of footholds and handholds, then pick a hand hold higher up to dyno to. Each person in the group takes a turn practicing the move, then the next climber chooses the next move.
Dynos can be demanding, as they are explosive movements that sometimes require a big range of movement.
This is why all climbers should make sure to be well warmed up for this to prevent any injuries.
This climbing game is a good exercise to build confidence and practice different kinds of “scary” moves in a playful environment.
When the time comes and you get to an actual route or problem with a dyno, you have more muscle memory to fall back on.
Rock climbing also has a lot to do with your attitude and mindset as a climber, and practicing difficult things while playing makes it much easier to tackle them “in real life”.
The 4×4: For Power-Endurance
Pick 4 routes from the climbing wall that are within your limit, then climb each problem in a row and then rest for 4 minutes.
Then do the 4 problems again until you have done them 4 times each (4×4).
This is one of the climbing games that help you train your stamina and endurance on the wall and get you to build muscle strength.
The routes should be easy enough that you can finish them without any problems, so you can focus on your endurance and won’t get interrupted by a move that you can’t do yet.
You can do several series of 4×4 in one session, each time increasing the grade of the routes if you are looking for a more challenging training routine.
This is a useful exercise to prepare you for routes which require a lot of “power-endurance”.
Lemon-Limes: For endurance
This climbing game works well as a one person endurance challenge, and is much harder than it seems at first. And here is how it goes:
Pick a slightly challenging problem from the bouldering wall. Start and do the first move, then come back to the starting point without coming off the wall.
Then climb the first 2 moves and come back to the start again.
Keep track of which moves you have repeated and continue to climb the route this way until you have reached the top.
This is the Lemon!
Then comes the next round of the game: climbing the Lime.
Downclimb one move, and go back up, then downclimb two moves and back up to the top.
Keep repeating this until you down climbed to the bottom and back to the top, then you can jump off the bouldering wall and you are done!
This is a great game to build your endurance in a playful way, while only using one single route on the wall.
This can be a good option if the climbing wall is busy and you can’t keep several problems free to do rotations, like with the previous game for example.
Training on the downclimbs also helps to practice downward movements that we are often less familiar with. If you want to make it even more demanding you can set a time limit for each climber to complete the climbs.
Forced falls: For Falling
This is a good game to train your mindset and to overcome your fear of falling in the safe environment of a climbing wall.
This only works on sports climbing routes that you feel comfortable leading and you should trust your belayer to catch you.
Here are the rules on how to play it:
Pick a lead climb you are comfortable with. The first person climbs the route and at a random moment the belayer yells “fall” and in that moment the climber must let go of hands and feet and drop!
This is great to practice your falling technique when lead climbing, which is an important skill to master. Then switch and the belayer is now climbing, repeating the game as often as you like to increase your confidence on the climbing wall.
Drag race: For Endurance
This game is fun either indoors on a climbing wall or outside on the rock and you need at least four climbers to play.
Set a timer for 15 minutes for bouldering problems or 30 minutes for sport climbing routes. And here is how to play:
In teams of two, try to climb as many routes as possible within the time and give points according to grading.
For example, if you climb a 5.11, this gets your team 11 points and so on. You can add penalty points for falls or takes if you want to make it a bit more challenging.
The climbers that have more points at the end win!
You can also turn this into a more relaxing affair and just count the routes throughout the whole training session and make it a competition between you and your partner!
Lucky draw: For Range of Movement
Together all climbers write down about 10 different climbing moves onto slips of paper (drop-knee, right-hand lockoff, left-hand dyno, gaston, heel hook etc) and put them into a bag.
One person must then pull four slips out of the bag and locate a route that uses all these different moves.
Complete the route using the moves on the paper strips and then mix the papers back in with the rest.
Now the next climber gets to pick new ones!
This is a fun exercise to use different moves in circumstances when you normally wouldn’t and helps to expand your repertoire as a climber.
This increases your range of movement and challenges you to think creatively when it comes to figuring out how to move from one hold to the next, which will make you a better climber in the long run.
Rock Climbing Games for Kids
Children also have to warm up before climbing and adding it into their training routine from the beginning helps to create a habit early on.
This will benefit them in the long run to prevent the development of injuries like climbers-elbow when they continue to climb as adults.
Some easy warm up exercises for kids are a few minutes of jumping jacks, some leg swings, hip circles, ankle and wrist rotations and shoulder rolls.
After they are more or less warmed up, there are some games to keep them warm up on the wall.
Traversing: For Warming-up
Choose a section of the wall with a low-level traverse for the little climbers.
You can make it more difficult by asking them to do laps without coming down from the bouldering wall for example.
Another fun variation is to have them do the traverse with only one foot or one hand, or to set the rule that they can’t use the same handhold twice.
The possibilities are endless!
Pick Up: For Endurance
Put stuffed animals or little toys on different holds across a section of the climbing wall.
The kids now climb until they have picked them all up without coming down.
This helps to train their endurance in a playful way and challenges them to stay on the wall for as long as possible.
Simon says: Fo Range of Movement/Fun
Play it like the normal game of simon says, but with climbing!
The leader on the ground shouts the commands that the others need to follow.
All climbers are at the bottom of the wall and then follow the commands and whoever falls off or fails to follow the command, loses and is out. This is a good activity for climbers of different levels as you can place the kids in different sections of the wall according to their level of climbing.
The kids can take turns in being the leader, making it an interactive game that can keep them busy for a while!
Outdoor Climbing Game Choices
Many of the games we introduced above can also be played outside while rock climbing, but here we picked some that work especially well.
Golf: For Warming Up
Pick six or more boulder problems within the ability levels of all climbers, each route represents a “hole” on the imaginary golf course.
One person starts and the climbers then take turns on each route, trying to complete it with as few holds as possible.
Count the handholds, each one is a stroke. A fall is 3 strokes and whoever has the least number of strokes at the end, wins.
Add-on: For Endurance
Set 3-4 moves to start, that all climbers can do easily.
Then the first climber climbs those moves and adds one more (one hand move with set footholds).
The next person then does the sequence and adds one more and so it continues. If you can’t follow the sequence, you lose one of your three lives.
This is good for building endurance, route-finding and helping you to train your memory!
There is a variation, where you hover your hand over the hold for 5 seconds before latching on, to make it even more difficult.
Times-up: For Range of Movement
Start with 10 seconds on the timer. The first climber tries to do as many moves (keep count of hand holds) within that time.
Then the next person tries to do more moves within the same timeframe and so on.
Whoever gets to the highest number of moves within the same time wins the game.
Climbing Wall Warm Up Games
A good warm up should be part of your personal routine for any type of exercise
Climbers are notoriously bad at doing it.
Whether you are off to go rock climbing, bouldering or climbing at the gym, a proper warm up should always take place.
A climbing game can be a good way to introduce a warm up into your routine, especially if you usually find it to be very boring.
The best part, all you have to do is climb.
All the grades
This is a very straightforward game that you can easily do by yourself or with friends.
Pick a grade and do all the routes or problems on that grade in the gym. If you are using it to warm up, start with a lower grade and work your way up to more difficult routes slowly.
This sounds very basic, but using a game can be an easy way to motivate you to try something different and keep you entertained for longer.
Another basic climbing game you can either do by yourself, or with a group of friends.
And here is how you play it:
Choose a route on the climbing wall or a boulder problem well within your limits and the first person starts to climb it.
If there are several of you, take turns to complete the problem one by one.
After the first round, one person eliminates a hold from the problem. Mark the hold with chalk for an easy visible clue.
Then the next climber gives it a go again and if you fall, you’re out!
Everyone gets one try at each route and then the next hold gets eliminated. The game ends when only one person is left.
This climbing game is fun, no matter your age!
For this game you should be in a group of three or more climbers and have quite a big stretch of vertical wall for traversing at your disposal.
To start the game, everyone gets on the wall and starts traversing, trying to catch the next person in front.
The rules are quite simple, if you get tagged you are out.
If you fall off the wall or push another climber off, you have to start to climb again at the end of the pack.
Children also tend to have a lot of fun when they play this game, so if you are a coach looking for inspiration, this climbing game is for you!
Why Warm Up Anyway?
But invest 10 minutes of your time before you hit the climbing wall to stretch your body and get your blood flowing and your joints ready.
Your body will be grateful for it.
This helps to avoid injuries and prevent long-term chronic injuries like climber’s elbow!
A climbing game can be a good option, but there are plenty of short warm ups that you can do before you start climbing.
At the end of your rock climbing day, you should also stretch to help your muscles wind down and improve your flexibility going forward. This can also be done in just 10 to 15 minutes, and your muscles will feel more flexible and stretchy the next day.
So, after having done a basic warm-up off the climbing wall, there are some fun climbing games to warm up on the wall, that you can do either alone or together with your buddies.
Now you are ready to go!
For most of these games, all you need are rock climbing shoes and chalk. Ever thought about making your own liquid chalk?
And if you are thinking about getting a fingerboard to take your training to the next level check out the best options out there!
Hi there, I am Mirjam and have recently discovered rock climbing for me while backpacking in Colombia. Originally from Switzerland I currently live in Venezuela and work as a freelance writer and translator. I have always loved being in nature and the mountains and am stoked to explore more of the world’s best climbing in the years to come!
You can find me at @mirigoesround or www.bosstranslations.com