2 August 2006

Specific technique - feet are for pulling too!

1- Getting into position: my feet are pushing down through the footholds to support my weight, but also pulling inwards (towards the rock) to allow me to put more downward force through my feet, reducing the force on my fingers. Centre of Gravity (hips) low, arms straight.

2- Initiating the move: throwing my hips in to the wall by pulling in aggressively with my feet (note foot angle, bent legs and arms still straight).

3- exploding off my FEET using my bent legs to generate the momentum to the next hold. (side note: even though I've jumped for the hold I've maintained the tension through my body to limit the swing - note pulling in from the shoulders, forcing torso inwards and already eyeballing the next foothold and aiming for it).

One of my aims with this site is to focus on some of the themes I've seen to be most problematic in climbers I've coached. I'll be adding a steady flow of short tutorials on specific techniques. Please comment if you want me to write something specific that's on your mind or want me to expand on a point. Although these are designed to be applied by novice-intermediate climbers, even the best often don't use nearly the full repertoire of techniques out there. I've seen 8b climbers who don't understand the topic below.

One of the most common footwork issues I come across is that people don't realise that feet are for pulling as well as pushing and that they should be used as much like hands as possible. On overhanging rock, your COG (centre of gravity - note to self: add a training glossary/abbreviations guide to the site!) is pulling you away from the rock, reducing your ability to get weight through the footholds. In climbing getting more weight through your lower body is priority No. 1. So you have to pull (and I mean REALLY pull) inwards even on small footholds so you can get more weight on them. When I coach climbers I see this pulling and pushing at the same time idea is a little confusing at first, but once experienced/understood is always a revelation. The next stage is to find out just how hard you can pull with your feet. Legs are pretty damn strong limbs (compare the volume of your forearm to your thigh) but often people don't really use them because it feels natural to concentrate on pulling with our arms. Next time at the wall, seek out a good climber. Stand and watch them and look out for when they are pulling with their feet. Watch how they hook their big toe over the foothold, pull in and then execute the move. Now copy it.


Anonymous said...

hey dave
congratulations on all your acheivements, its very inspiring. thanks for taking the time to do coaching blogs such as these they're a great help. take it easy.

Mike said...

Seconded. Quick question then. I've seen some video of malcom smith talking about not twisting on overhanging problems (something to do with reducing your reach - ?), however i find this the easiest way to my COG into the wall. So would you recommend avoiding the twisting in favour of feet pulling technique (i'll believe it went i see it btw)?

Dave MacLeod said...

Pulling with feet can (and should!) happen whether you are front on or twisting during a move. I think in the vid clip you mention Malc was talking about making sure he covered front on, reaching out to the side moves -in training- rather than as a method to climb universally. The purpose being to make sure he had strength in this position when it was needed (the clip showed an example - a V12 called 'bully'). I'll talk more about different basic move patterns in future pieces...

jimmy smithian said...

Hi Dave,

Does pushing & pulling also apply to foot holds that are sloping down which would require you to drop your heels low?


Anonymous said...

Pushing with one's feet assumes that the holds are of such a quality that one can pull on them. On sloping holds it seems like this would be impossible and that even trying to step up on it is going to push one's body away from the wall to a degree.