7 August 2006

Tactics - Rock-bootcamp

A deep egyptian on Devastation F8c. On this route I needed to wear different shoes on different feet as I needed a specific heel shape for the crux heelhook. (Photo: Pete Murray)

Wearing a good quality and well fitting pair of rockshoes is so basic for rock climbing, I used to think of it as not even worth mentioning. But then I found myself telling about 50% of the climbers I've coached that they need a new pair (& different model). As I was saying in my last posts about the true basic rules of climbing technique - feet are the key. So if you hinder them by wearing boots which don't fit your foot shape, are too big so you can't put weight through your toes, or have lost all their support and are ready for the bin, you are slicing off a big chunk of your potential ability straight away. Usually, climbers using ineffective rockboots will avoid routes with small footholds, or fall of when they come across them. In my coaching sessions when we work with small footholds, the true effect of wearing the wrong shoes comes out instantly. Climbers with relatively poor footwork but good shoes can swap feet or move off small smears/edges, while climbers with good footwork flail. Unnecessary.

And maybe you think it doesn't matter in the short term, you can buy a new pair anytime right? Well it does matter - Having crap shoes you can't trust and rely on works it's way subconsciously into your technique. You start to solve move problems using your hands, because your brain subconsciously isn't trusting your feet. Once this happens, it's extremely difficult to erase. It will pull your standard down massively.

Take time to try on lots of different brands in the shop, get info about how much they stretch (it differs massively between brands). Find a pair that fit your foot shape. Watch out for what models good climbers are wearing, you can bet your life its for a reason. Ask them. And don't make the mistake of thinking something that good climbers do/use is only for good climbers.


Mike said...

Is the 'no pain no gain' approach to buying shoes good or bad? personally, I think bad.

Dave MacLeod said...

Hmm do you mean pain as in buying super tight shoes? If so it depends on the manufacturer. Some stretch loads - you have to buy them super tight and painful and in three sessions they are perfect. Others hardly stretch at all. My favourite shoes don't stretch at all - you can tae them straight out of the box and do something at your limit in them. Ultimately, they need to be tight enough that you can stand on a small edge without having to use masses of strength to resist them deforming and sliding off. But comfortable to wear for several hours at a time. Sure, you'll want them off after 4 hours, but not after 4 minutes.

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