GB Climbing evolves the Talent and Performance Pathway

Posted by Lucinda Whittaker on 26/07/2022
GB Climbing and Talent Pathway athlete Molly Thompson-Smith competing at the IFSC Lead World Cup in Briançon. Photo: Lena Drapella

GB Climbing evolves the Talent and Performance Pathway to support emerging talent to reach their potential, as it seeks to become a leading climbing nation by 2032

GB Climbing has announced its new Talent Pathway plans for 2023 and 2024 to enhance the journey for aspiring athletes across the summer Olympic disciplines; Boulder, Lead and Speed Climbing.

The current GB National Development Squad was established by the British Mountaineering Council and Mountaineering Scotland in 2017 to provide a program for talented athletes to bridge the gap between National and International competition.

Over the past six years the GB National Development Squad has successfully provided hundreds of athletes with opportunities to come together, train together, experience international standard route setting, world-leading coaching and for some, the opportunity to compete internationally. As a new Olympic sport, GB Climbing has been working closely with UK Sport and Sport England, along with its partners at Mountaineering Scotland to evolve and further enhance the GB Climbing Talent pathway experience for talented athletes.

Mountaineering Scotland, as part of GB Climbing, will expand its ClimbScotland Team through additional investment from sportscotland to recruit a full-time Talent and Pathways Officer. This new post will support and develop current and new squads/teams to become recognised GB Climbing talent squads and provide additional support for the Scottish Development Squad. In addition, national development squad athletes in Scotland and Wales will be able to access opportunities to train alongside their counterparts in the English talent pathway and squads (and vice versa). The shared ambition is to create a hyperconnected coaching community, with a learning and development offer for personal/home coaches of athletes on the GB Talent Pathway. 

There are three programmes in the new GB Climbing Talent pathway;

Regional Talent Squads (Age 12-19yrs)

The GB Climbing Talent pathway in 2023 will see an evolution of the regional talent squads, which have been established over the last two years.  

The Regional Talent Squads will be the first step on our new talent pathway, and the starting point for any athlete with aspirations to be a member of the GB Climbing team. The regional coaches will work holistically with athletes and their personal coaches to foster a creative learning environment to develop the foundations to express their own individuality and prepare young climbers ready to thrive as they navigate their youth competition climbing journey.

The development of a tailored ‘Individual Athlete Development Plan’ (IADP) lead by the Regional Pathway Coaches, in collaboration with their home coach, will help shape the athlete experiences for all on the regional talent squad programme. Exposure to and experience of the different disciplines, competition standards and styles will support those athletes in the Regional Talent Squads to develop their potential through coaching and climbing with peers of a similar or higher standard. Athletes will develop a broad range of technical skills through wide-ranging practice and domestic competition experiences, supported by a functional athletic base, alongside a safety competence in each discipline.

The Regional Talent Squad is the first opportunity for aspiring GB athletes to know what it will take to be a top competition climber. If selected onto a regional talent squad, the more an athlete and their personal coach engage the more they will benefit from the experiences.

Nations Development Squads – Scotland, England & Wales

Athletes who achieve selection to the Development Squads for Scotland, England & Wales will remain in their regional talent squads for localised progressive individual training and will gain additional development experiences through the Development Squad residential camps with their squad coaches.

The camps will focus on the development of the personal skills – technical, tactical, physical, mental, health and well-being - required to bridge the gap from national to international level. The Scotland, England & Wales Development Squads will act as an introduction to a high-performance culture. Athletes should have already developed a high technical skill level, coupled with high physical awareness, physical literacy and be able to apply more advanced performance skills with support in all aspect of performance that they require as an individual.

GB Junior Team

The GB Junior Team will be formed of athletes selected to take part in international competition, providing competitive experiences to prepare athletes as they look to make progress onto the GB Climbing performance pathway and the GB Climbing senior team. Once selected, athletes will evolve their IADP to develop to own their athletic journey further, including international competitive opportunities.

The focus at this stage will be to apply and further develop specific technical nuance and adaptations needed for International Competition, such as complex decision making, physical skills and movements, competition tactics and psychological and sociological development. It is important that this part of journey is supporting the whole person to be best prepared to compete well through a progressive competition programme from IFSC Youth European Cups, the IFSC Youth World Championships, IFSC Senior competition at European Continental, World Cups, European and World championships, and Olympic Games.

Lorraine Brown, Head of Performance for GB Climbing, run by the BMC, said: “The new changes to our Talent pathway are an evolution to our current pathway, providing a more localised and enhanced regional offer for athletes and personal coaches. It is an exciting and progressive development for our sport and one which continues to push forward climbing as an Olympic discipline, whilst enabling our rising stars to thrive.

“The introduction of Regional Talent Squads will enable us, alongside our partners at Mountaineering Scotland, to provide more holistic support for young talent across Wales, Scotland and England, with bespoke planning in collaboration with home coaches that will play to the strengths of each individual.

“With an increasing interest from young people getting into the sport since Toyko 2020, it’s critical that we implement a talent pathway which enables us to provide a world-class journey for our emerging talent in order to maximise elite success in future.”

Each part of the pathway will have a different route to selection. The processes involved will include applications, multiple benchmarking opportunities throughout the year and specified national championship competitions. These processes may vary for the Scottish athletes as the home nation develop their own talent pathway following the recruitment of their new Talent and Pathway Officer. To stay in the loop with updates visit the GB Climbing website.


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GB Climbing is supported by the BMC, Mountaineering Scotland and Secur-it. The GB Ice Climbing Team is supported by Montane. Many UK walls also support the GB Climbing through free or subsidised entry.


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Anonymous User
27/07/2022
What about Young climbers in category C who are already members of the GB development squad? Do they continue to trai with their GB development squad?
Parents have spent thousands ensuring their young climbers have competed across the four nations, with no support from the BMC.
Anonymous User
27/07/2022
Where does the age 12 come from? Everything is done by year of birth in competition. Do all category C go into GB development squad if they're already representing GB as they will be 12 in 2023?
Anonymous User
27/07/2022
It looks as if the new development pathway will exclude the youngest Cat D climbers already in the existing development pathway for at least one year until they are old enough (12) to be eligible for entry to the Regional Talent Squads in 2024.
Is there any plan to accommodate this cohort of 10 year old's already in the existing development pathway within Regional Talent Squads through 2023?
Anonymous User
28/07/2022
Yet another example of the BMC' lack of organisational skills. Expecting something for nothing without consultation or consideration for the athletes or their families.
Anonymous User
28/07/2022
Thank you all for your comments, all of which are valid.

For clarification, all current members of the GB National Development Squad (GBNDS) gain automatic selection onto the new Regional Talent squad, this will include the current lower D athletes. The selection documents for non-GBNDS athletes will be published in September.
Anonymous User
28/07/2022
When will the selection policy detailing the full criteria be made available ?
Anonymous User
01/08/2022
Why do all current athletes get automatic acceptance, some on the programme have not even competed in the all nations this year or have done so and not really met a standard based on the data of the results. There are several children who have competed and done exceptionally well and are not on the current programme. How do our children gain acceptance.
Anonymous User
02/08/2022
Why do all current athletes get automatic acceptance, some on the programme have not even competed in the all nations this year or have done so and not really met a standard based on the data of the results. There are several children who have competed and done exceptionally well and are not on the current programme. How do our children gain acceptance. What an incredible opportunity starting please step up and be better! How is the best way to spend the precious money ?

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