Performance Assessment for Rock Climbers: The International Rock Climbing Research Association Sport-Specific Test Battery

  • Draper Nick
  • Giles David
  • Taylor Nicola
  • Vigouroux Laurent
  • Españ A-Romero Vanesa
  • Baláš Jiří
  • Altamirano Ignacio Solar
  • Mally Franziska
  • Beeretz Ina
  • Canalejo Jorge Couceiro
  • Josseron Gabriel
  • Kodejška Jan
  • Arias Téllez Maria José
  • Cabeza de Vaca German Gallo

  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Strength
  • Successful rock climbing


To examine the validity and reliability of a battery of 10 measures designed to assess the key physiological parameters for successful rock climbing performance. Methods: In phase 1 of the research, an expert panel, using the Delphi method, established a 10-item test battery based on the key determinants of climbing performance. In phase 2, the tests were assessed for validity and reliability to examine their suitability as sport-specific measures of rock climbing performance. A total of 132 rock climbers, from 7 countries, volunteered to take part in the study. Each climber visited their nearest laboratory on 3 separate occasions in order to enable the required tests and retests to be completed. A minimum of 7 days was allowed between visits. Results: The 10 tests established for phase 2 were designed as sport-specific measures of flexibility, strength, power, and endurance. Results indicated that, while reliable, the flexibility and strength tests were only partially successful in differentiating across climber abilities. The power and endurance tests, however, performed well with regard to validity and reliability, with the finger hang and powerslap tests being most strongly correlated with performance ability (P < .0005 to P < .002). Conclusion: The authors' data suggest that climbing may require a threshold level of flexibility and strength for successful performance, beyond which further improvements may not be required. In contrast, the finger hang and powerslap tests were not only reliable measures but also differentiated between climber abilities from lower grade to elite levels.