Ben

31st Aug 2011

Question:

My footwork is rubbish!

I'm a 35 year old bloke. I've only been climbing a couple of years I lead at around VS4c. Not being confident in my feet is causing me some grief and I think it's holding me back. Affecting my head game. I'm fit and strong but I get pumped out all too quickly the minute I run out of footholds!

Any tips to help my footwork?

Answer:

This is a great question, as in my experience ‘rubbish footwork’ is at the root of why climbers can’t improve. You can train all you like but if you aren’t using your new found strengths properly you will reach a plateau.

So improving your footwork is key but it will need some work of course.

Firstly before you even start climbing, you need to make sure your shoes fit correctly and they are the right shape for your feet. I’m no advocate of excruciatingly tight boots but you need to try on different manufacturers boots to see how they feel. Just because your mate rates the 5.10 blah blahs, it doesn’t mean they will work for you. It’s also worth recognizing that ‘all day comfy’ boots are not designed for precision and hence you will not get precision! You need a shoe that will give you accuracy, trust and comfort.

So when you get a well fitted shoe and you can feel the holds through your toes you need to start using them correctly.

This means when you place your foot on a hold you have to watch where your foot goes and you make sure you can feel it go onto the exact part of the hold you intended. If you don’t do this you will never be able to trust what is going on under your feet.

When you are happy that your foot is secure, you then push your weight through your foot onto the hold and your foot won’t slip off. This technique works for very small holds and smears and the more you practice and see it working, the more trust you will gain in your footwork.

What you are trying to achieve is a feeling of most of your weight going down through your feet and your arms are simply holding onto the wall for balance. Your feet should be taking the majority of the weight.

If you manage to master this technique, you will save a lot of arm power and endurance and have more in reserve. You will also get pumped less quickly and therefore your head will improve because you feel more in control.

Go practice and see yourself improve!