Rock Climbing Footwork: The Basics
When climbing, we generally have two points of contact with the wall: our feet and hands.
We tend to put a lot of our efforts into improving our grip strength and subtleties in hand positioning on holds. However, this often results in footwork being somewhat forgotten!
You can drastically improve your climbing performance by practising some simple footwork fundamentals!
1. Be Precise, Be Accurate!
Your warm-up is a great time to practise good footwork.
Take your time and place your foot accurately on the foothold.
Choose a specific point on a hold and aim to place your big toe on this point without bouncing it around.
Once it’s there, commit to that position!
2. Be Conscious of Foot Angle!
Is your heel above or below the line of the hold?
If the heel comes too high and you go on your tiptoes, the angle will become too great and it’s more likely that your foot will pop off the hold.
Dropping your heel increases the surface area of your shoe making contact. This is great when you’re smearing on volumes, for example. However, on holds, if the heel drops too low, it shifts the weight to the back of your foot, meaning there’s less force going through the toe. This reduces the friction and makes you more likely to pop.
There is no one size fits all. Each hold will be different. But, with conscious practice it will be easier to find the optimal position quickly!
3. Practice Pivoting!
Learning to pivot on your feet allows you to move your hips and torso into more advantageous positions.
Practice placing the inside edge of your big toe on a large hold and then pivoting round so that the outside edge of your foot is on the hold.
Gradually make the hold smaller and smaller to refine this skill.
4. Trust Your Feet!
A properly weighted foot doesn’t pop!
This statement is generally true… but it’s easier said than done!
Transferring your bodyweight over the hold is one of the easiest ways to weight your foot but this takes some faith!
Again, the more you practise this, the easier it will become to trust the foot.
Also, lowering your centre of gravity and bending your knee as you apply pressure will result in greater force going through the feet.
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