Youth Competition - ISO.....Isolation Zone

What is ISO? And getting your kid krusher prepared for it.

So your kid krusher wants to compete in a climbing competition.  They may be in a climbing program, or they may be climbing on their own with you. They heard about the competition in some manner in their home gym, and want to give it a go. Awesome.

This part of the blog is more for parents who do not have kids in a "climbing program" of some sort because most all of the programs we have been associated with, the coaches took care of preparing the kids.

As you try an get some information and such, you may find it difficult to get said info if your home gym does not run a kids program, or has any youth competitors or coaches. No Problem. You are resourceful. You check out the PSO for your province and start to review the rules. Great.

Reading thru the rules you find wording along the lines of:

"An isolation zone will be in effect for the climbing competition, climbers must attempt the routes with no previous knowledge of the route or sequences". - Whaattt? ......You are not allowed to see the problems/ routes prior to the competition.

So how do they accomplish this?

This is accomplished by holding the climbers in a waiting area called "isolation". This area separates the competitors from viewing the routes, talking to other climbers who have completed their climbs or talking to spectators or coaches. Generally a climbing competition isolation area includes a toilet, drinks, chairs, table, warm-up or bouldering wall and a transition zone, sometimes called "on deck". It may be a separate area of the gym, a curtained of off area. You get the point. There may also be a separate check in and entrance to ISO.

 Ok, so how does that affect my kid krusher?

As a new competitor walking into your first comp, it can be a stressful environment for your child, especially if they are not part of a "team or program". You may have the same experience as an adult walking into a room full of strangers.  And with kids starting to compete at a younger age, it can be intimidating.

In large climbing competitions, isolation can be a long wait. It is not uncommon to have competitors in ISO for a couple of hours..(yes 2-3 hours). And if you are not a "registered" coach with the PSO, you don't get to hang out with your child in ISO. Coaches and competitors only.

So how do you prepare for ISO?

An effective way to get your krusher ready is to simulate ISO at practice in your gym before the competition. OK. how do I do that? Prior to your training session, pick out 5 problems for your kid krusher to climb. During the period you are doing that, have your child find a quiet  place to sit and chill. Unless you have other kids participating in your training session, have your child understand, that they cannot talk to other people, "spectators, grandparents etc". (they are in isolation). 

  • Ensure they have some snacks with them
  • Keep them hydrated
  • Keep in mind, No electronic devices that have "transmission/reception capabilities are allowed in ISO. So let them color, read a book etc
  • Have them go thru a warm up drill while in mock ISO

Yes its kind of like going to the principals office LOL, but the good news is, you are not in trouble :-) For the first few simulations don't keep them sitting for too long, you paid for a membership. Let em climb.

And here is the best part....climbing is a community. Its ok for them to be social with the other kids in ISO. Let them know its ok to say hi, chat up other kids etc. Some of the strongest friendships in climbing, are formed in...you guessed it...in the isolation zone.

And guess what else, do you think the other kids in ISO don't want company and friends as well? 2 or 3 hours of silence for a kid is an eternity lol. Trust us we know. Try 5 minutes of not talking. See how that works out ;-).

The more often you practice a routine similar to this prior to a competition, the easier it gets for the kids. And once they have learned to relax in ISO, they will have a blast at the comp.

And as a parent keep this in mind, as you send them off to ISO the first time, don't worry...they have already gone thru a similar experience in their lives...the first day of school. Time to make new friends.

Cheers.