"A few months ago, I had the privilege of shadowing Coach Chapman for a week, at Boulder Parc in Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of learning I gained during the nine hours I spent with him. His approach to teaching is truly transformative.
Allow me to provide some context: I've been part of the climbing world for a decade, managing a 20,000 sq. ft. bouldering gym in Hong Kong. Currently, I serve as the General Manager of The Climbing Hangar (Exeter) in the UK—a company with nine locations and the country's largest climbing presence. Although I'm not a competitive climber myself, my experiences have provided insights into the qualities that define an outstanding coach. From my perspective, here are three standout reasons that contribute to my high regard for Coach Chapman:
Educator First and Foremost: Coach Chapman's true strength lies in his foundation as an educator. Unlike the norm of upskilling climbers to become coaches due to resource constraints, Coach Chapman's background as an educator sets him apart. This exceptional quality ensures that the techniques and skills he imparts are deeply ingrained in his students.
Adept Routesetter: An often overlooked facet of his expertise is his skill as a routesetter. While many coaches rely on existing routes for instruction, Coach Chapman has developed a system that empowers him to craft tailor-made routes from scratch. This proficiency, combined with his coaching abilities, distinguishes him. Even among top routesetters, his efficiency stands out—accomplishing in a fraction of the time what others may struggle with.
Relatable and Impactful: Coach Chapman's instruction goes beyond climbing-specific skills; he imparts transferable life skills like grit, persistence, and a distinctive tough love approach. This connection with his students and their parents fosters a bond that extends far beyond climbing achievements.
While I acknowledge these points are broad, the synthesis of being a skilled climber, a proficient routesetter, and an educator is indeed rare. Even the Head Coach at The Climbing Hangar, a company I'm associated with, and who coaches the GB youth team, refrains from routesetting due to its multifaceted demands. Coach Chapman uniquely embodies this blend of talents.
Conversations with several team members and parents echo nothing but admiration and respect for Coach Chapman. His genuine passion for the sport and the future of the youth he guides is truly exceptional.
In summary, Coach Chapman is truly unique. While there are resemblances between Boulder Parc and the training centers of the French and USA National Climbing Teams (take a look at Karma Gym in Fontainebleau, France), attempting to duplicate Coach Chapman's results with an ordinary climbing coach, even given the same space and tools, would likely fall short. He is the essential element that keeps everything in balance. Essentially, he has made world-class coaching accessible to everyday families, and that’s why I hold him in such high regard." ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
International Youth High Performance Training Camp, summer 2023
"This camp exceeded our expectations. It was transformational for my son by challenging him mentally and physically, increasing his confidence, and providing support and friendship. Coach Matt, Coach Chaela, and Coach Molly were fantastic with the kids: teaching and drilling new skills, giving feedback, and constantly encouraging them! The staff at Boulder Parc were welcoming and friendly, and the space was great not only for the kids, but for parents to spectate or to work remotely. This High Performance Training Camp was such a fantastic, motivating and inspiring opportunity and experience for my son. We absolutely look forward to the next; it is totally worth it!" ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
"The HPTC with Coach Matt was likely the most significant week of my daughter’s young climbing career. The daily focus on individual skills and try-hard created an environment where she was able to grow rapidly. Coach Matt’s coaching style is perfect for serious athletes. He really knows the modern comp skills he’s teaching. His interventions with athletes are to the point, allowing them to problem solve on their own while continuing to make progress throughout each training session. This camp created an environment where young athletes were able to try harder than they thought possible while still having a great time. The HPTC is not for every athlete, but I would certainly recommend it for serious athletes that want to improve their comp climbing skills and mental game. I look forward to the next opportunity my daughter has to work with Coach Matt. A fantastic week of growth and making new friendships!" ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Onsight Training Camp, Tennessee, October 2023 Instagram
Getting to spend a week with @coachmattchapman was beyond anything I could’ve dreamed of! I’ve never been around someone who is so perfectly encouraging and kind and yet makes you want to try harder than you ever have, pushing past any pain or fear or exhaustion. It sounds crazy, but I think it’s safe to say that @coachmattchapman changed my life in just 5 days! I walked away with pages and pages of notes, crazy psyche, and a new expectation of what it means to train hard. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Our youth climbing team recently had the incredible privilege of working with Coach Matt Chapman, and we can't praise his coaching enough. Matt is a true master at his craft. His unique approach to coaching and training for competition climbing is nothing short of transformative. He doesn't just guide the athletes; he leaves a lasting mark on their climbing journeys.
Under Coach Matt Chapman's guidance, we've witnessed not only our athletes' climbing skills improve but also their mindsets and overall approach to the sport. Matt's coaching is about more than just physical training; it's a holistic transformation. He's a coach who understands that success in climbing involves both the body and the mind. Matt creates a supportive and motivating environment that encourages our young climbers to push their boundaries, improve their mental fortitude, and think strategically on and off the wall. He has an innate ability to ignite a fire from within, driving them to achieve more than they thought possible.
We can honestly say that Coach Matt Chapman's influence on our youth climbing team has been profound. If you want to nurture the potential of the next generation of climbers and help them cultivate a deeper comprehension of the intricate world of competitive climbing, there's no one better to guide them than Coach Matt. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
- Yolanda Chen | Owner | Onsight Rock Gym
"Matt Chapman has been my coach for almost two years now, working together remotely, and during that time I’ve experienced the most extreme climbing improvements of my career.
To give a little context, prior to working with Matt, I’d worked with the best, internationally accredited professional coaches in Canada. Over the course of my youth career and early senior career, I’d seen improvements and I’d had good performances, but they’d been sporadic, and would be followed by large dips in performance, or injury.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Matt’s coaching is my performance at the 2018 Canadian Open Boulder Nationals. It was only five days prior that I had begun to work with Matt. At BC Bouldering Provincials, a month earlier, I had finished 11th. After a promising youth career (1st place Junior Lead Nationals, 3rd place Junior Bouldering Nationals), and a full season of good training, this was a super disappointing result, and an even more disappointing performance. For those that know the feeling, I was “in my head” throughout the whole competition, unable to put out a true effort.
Competitions were beginning to beat me down, and I had many phone calls with my coach at the time about quitting competitions. When Open Nationals was a week away, I arranged a phone call with Matt. I detailed to him what I did for physical training, what my week looked like, and how I had been feeling at competitions and at training and in my head. After forty-five minutes Matt stopped me, asked if he could repeat back to me what he thought I was going through, and then outlined, in intimate detail, all of the problems and stressors that I had been unable to put to words. Over the next five days, we practiced mental exercises. We threw out my training plan and revamped my entire approach to competition preparation. We etched ourselves deep inside my drive for climbing, and structured my mental game around it.
Open Nationals 2018 was a game changer for me. I climbed with my heart for three full rounds, attacking every boulder with everything I had, and bringing a smile to every boulder I faced. I finished semi-finals in 2nd place, missing out on a full round sweep by only a single move to a finish hold. Every moment felt like a flow state. Matt’s approach allowed me to engage all of those finely tuned parts of my athletic game that had not had the chance to work at their fullest.
Two weeks later I climbed my first V12/8A+.
It’s difficult to fully express what Matt does for me as a coach. During our time together we’ve developed a pretty cool relationship, one that I value quite dearly. Often he knows what I need before I do, but he also respects and values my own knowledge of my body or motivation levels, and we plan my training intuitively, while forming structure to meet my long term and short term goals. A massive part of our training involves mental training: reprogramming how to evaluate boulders and rounds, finding “try hard” in training, and building a long term approach to climbing and life that extends beyond the confines of “sport.” For anyone considering a new coach for high performance climbing, or someone who just wants to get BETTER, there is no one else I would recommend." ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
- Tosh Sherkat, Team Canada, 2020
Boulder Parc Performance Climbing Program
"Matt is an absolutely outstanding coach, intertwining the physical, emotional, and psychological resilience of an athlete. Matt is continuously providing challenging environments and settings, thus allowing athletes to thrive and build confidence not only in competition but in real-life settings. His dedication, determination, and drive are an inspiration to the highest standard of coaching, on a global level.
Matt has been dedicated to climbing for decades, and the knowledge he brings on a local, provincial, national, and international level is quite extraordinary. Matt is also a lifelong learner, as he listens and appreciates feedback from athletes, parents, peer coaches, setters, as well as members of his community, and he is continually seeking best practices. The youth team he currently coaches at Boulder Parc is a team built on virtues of trust, kindness, teamwork, and dedication. All members of the team feel a true sense of belonging. You can hear Matt's voice from afar, cheering, encouraging, and laughing with his athletes.
Beyond climbing, Matt cultivates the overall well-being of the athletes, providing succinct advice and up-to-date resources on aspects such as nutrition, injury prevention, and mental health. Matt is highly organized and collaborative. He is able to work in busy environments and make every athlete feel like they are receiving undivided attention. Matt is also an amazing co-regulator when athletes are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. In our experience, Matt provides the very highest level of coaching." ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
- Parents | Todd & Chantal Bouillon, 2023