Rock Climbing

Having good footwork skills and being able to trust your feet makes for efficient climbing. To smoothly navigate amid narrow footholds, a climber needs impeccable balance. Here’s an exercise to help build your confidence balancing on rock.

  • First, find a low-angle boulder with small footholds. Put a crash pad at its base or set a top-rope. Climb up and down the face. Place your feet precisely on the best part of the holds, using your hands only for balance. Notice the weight shift as you lean slightly left to move the right foot up, and slightly right to move the left foot.
  • Climb the same face using only your right hand for balance. Keep your center of gravity directly over your feet. Repeat with the left hand. Try making the steps completely static, and also try bouncing off your lower foot. Notice how the bounce gives you some momentum to propel you through the move.
  • To further improve balance, climb the face with no hands. If your feet slip, try maintaining more downward pressure on your toes. Practice until you can smoothly climb the face without hands.
  • Now find a steeper face with small edges. With both feet on the starting footholds, eye a small edge up and to the side. Bring your foot to the best part of the hold and hit it dead-on. Now transfer your weight onto the new foothold. Practice until you can consistently hit the foothold on the first try and smoothly transfer your weight between the holds.
  • Climb wearing a large-billed hat, and don’t look up for the handholds. Instead, focus completely on your feet. Strive to stay balanced and press your weight up with your legs.

Look for these climbing exercises and many more in Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben.


-- Adapted from Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben, The Mountaineers Books

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