Skitch was first introduced at North American OCR Championships (NORAM) 3k in 2018. The obstacle consists of two horizontal poles that athletes are required to traverse. The tricky part is it is not that is just a traverse obstacle but that it requires using two vertical nunchaku (nunchuck) grips with hooks on them as your method of movement. 

This obstacle took a lot of bands last year, so here are a couple of tips to help you get ready:

Specificity

When training for anything, specificity is king. If you can manage it, training on the same or similar type obstacle will teach you a lot of lessons. Skitch is an obstacle made by Force 5, the Canadian based obstacle company. They sell the actual ninja hooks (handholds) that are used on course. Pick yourself up a pair and start practicing.

ocr training - the skitch

Mimic the Hand Position

If you’ve been reading this articles series, you may have noticed a trend. Breaking obstacles down into their smallest parts and practicing each one individually will make doing the obstacle easier when you try to do everything at once.

For Skitch, just like for La Gaffe and Platinum Rig nunchaku holds, you want to mimic the hand position.

Here’s a few ways to mimic the hand position:

  • Put the ninja hooks on a pull-up bar to practice dead hangs 
  • Pull-ups, getting you used to that grip
  • Locked out pull-ups to practice the most efficient arm position

You can also buy the Blacksmith Stick (which is the most similar) or the Nunchuk Grip (harder version) to use for practice. Personally, after exhausting my grip and back muscles doing rig work with bodyweight, I switch to a lat pull-down machine but replace the standard bar or handle with a nunchaku grip for more repetitions with a lighter weight.

Practice the Transition

The part that caused most athletes to fail was the transition between the two poles. You want to get close to the end without both hands being at the end. If both are at the end you will find your lead hand (the one you are trying to transition with) is stuck because your trail hand is leaning against it.

Instead, stop a couple inches before the end so your hands are still separate, and make the transition.  When transitioning, lift your body up, move one hand with the ninja hook.  Then do another pull-up up and bring the trail hand over. By pulling up first it gives you additional time to make the movement and allows your body to absorb some of the impact instead of trying the transition with both arms locked out.

ocr training

Believe in Yourself

Other than that, think positively and don’t get discouraged. If you mess up the first time, drop off, get in the retry lane and give it another go. If your hands are sandwiched together and you can’t get them unstuck, it might be easier to drop and redo the obstacle instead of maxing out your grip struggling. Unlike some of the other upper body obstacles, this one is pretty short and if you make the transition the rest of it is pretty easy.

Watch Others

If you have time and you aren’t in the earliest waves, go over and watch others complete the obstacle. Seeing others will allow you to analyze what they do well and where they are failing. Plus you might pick up some new techniques. For example, last year I transitioned the first hook then slid through the second half of the obstacle with both hands on only one hook. I picked up that move from watching others on the course. Skitch was definitely a band taker in 2018. Do some obstacle specific practice this year and come into 2019 ready to crush it.

A man hanging on an obstacle in an obstacle course race

–Evan Perperis

Evan Perperis, NSCA-CPT,  is an athlete on the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team and author of three books on Obstacle Course Racing. Included in his 39 podium finishes is a 2nd place Pro Coed Team at the 2018 North American OCR Championships and 1st Place Team at 2018 World’s Toughest Mudder. Find more of his content at www.teamstrengthspeed.com. Want more obstacle tips and training plans?  Pick up the only book focused on the competitive aspect of Obstacle Course Racing, Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR