5 August 2006

Climbing beginners - top 5 technique basics

Much of the advice out there on improving climbing technique is aimed at climbers who have a bit of experience behind them. If you are a true beginner and just been to the wall/crag for the first time you probably were shown the basics of safety and the rules of the game (use only one colour of holds etc) but many will learn their climbing technique intuitively from a mate and won't know what to look for.

It takes a bit of time to get comfy with being at height and moving on rock before the more detailed technical drills will help you improve. Try them in your first few sessions and they sometimes just frustrate and confuse. So here are 5 basic things to repeat in your head on your fist few sessions.

1. Feet are the key:
Your body is built to be supported by your feet. The more weight on your feet at all times, the better. When you struggle on a route, you're arms are giving in and you start to rush, think FEET - they will almost always be the reason you are stuck and the solution to keep you on the rock.

2. Arms straight:
Keep your arms straight as much as you can (i.e most of the time). The basic climbing movement is to keep arms straight, move feet into position to reach the next hold, pull up momentarily to reach next hold, arm straight again to move feet, and so on. This helps you in lots of ways but the most important benefits are reducing the muscular effort from your arms and being able to see what's going on at your feet much better than if your face is pulled hard against the wall.

3. Lots of small foot moves:
Many beginners automatically assume the making more foot moves is bad. Your footwork will become more efficient in time, but it's still normal to make 2-3 foot moves for each hand move in many types of climbing.

4. Quiet feet:
This technique has nothing to do with keeping the noise down in the climbing wall, its just a simple technique for good footwork. Avoiding jumping or scuffing your feet up the wall as you move your feet means you have to get in balance to place them carefully.

5. Make the most of each hold:
In indoor climbing, each hold will have a 'best' spot on the hold which is the part you should use. You need to try and find it (hand and feet!). Beginners tend either to grab and pull without 'feeling' for the best bit first, or, when they get stuck on a move, they feel around for way too long trying to find that magic hidden incut that isn't there. Somewhere in between is best; look and feel the hold to find the best bit, then move on. If you get stuck, concentrate your efforts on feet (see No. 1) and looking for other holds.


Anonymous said...

thanks a lot !!

Bec said...

thanks Dave! just started climbing and find your blog and articles really useful

imran said...

this is the kind of information i needed to imporve my climbing as i am a biginer and wish to get better.
cheers Dave

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