Skitch was first introduced at the 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 not just that it’s a traverse obstacle, but that it requires using two vertical grips with hooks on them as your method of attaching to the obstacle.
This obstacle took a lot of bands through the years, so here are a couple of tips to help you get ready:
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 Skitch’s ninja hooks handholds that are used on course. Pick yourself up a pair and start practicing. Save 10% with code OCRWC10!
Mimic the Hand Position
Here’s a tip for all obstacle training: 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 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 Force 5’s 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, but keeps your hands spaced apart and not pressed against the support chain. If both hands are together, 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.
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.
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 OCRWC ready to crush it.
Lock in your spot for this year’s OCR World Championships to check out Skitch first hand. Don’t wait – spots always sell out fast. Register here.
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
**Editors note: This post was originally released in June of 2019 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.