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The Basics Of Footwork In Rock Climbing

Nov 12, 2007
The basics of rock climbing start with footwork. Knowing how to place you feet when climbing is necessary as missteps can lead to any number of disasters. Following a few basic tips to get you started, you can ensure you have the proper footwork techniques down and avoid any future missteps.

Shoes

Having the right shoes is essential to learning how to climb. You wouldn't try to learn how to mountain bike on your six-year old cousin's Huffy so why attempt climbing rocks with tennis shoes. Make sure you spend the right amount of time trying on shoes and getting the exact right fit for your feet. You want a small bit of room but not too much, or you won't have the sort of control you need over the surface. If your shoes are too small you'll be putting your toes directly on the edge of each rock you try to step to.

Keep those shoes as clean as you can as well. Make sure to wipe them down every time they're used and let them air dry, brushing out the deeper stains and any interior dirt. You don't want any foreign bodies invading your feet while trying to climb.

Physical Strength and Flexibility

You'll need to be a moderately strong person to successfully climb. Building up leg strength is as simple as leg presses and cycling in the afternoon. Before anyone starts climbing, they should consider bulking up a bit. The foot strength will come in time.

Stretching and achieving a suitable level of flexibility is important as well. You want to make sure that you can handle the agile moves and stretches you'll be performing with your feet

Looking For Footholds

One of the most important parts of basic footwork is knowing where to look for footholds. You want to make sure you have a basic idea of where they are even before you start up the route. You'll only see a few from the ground but even those few will help you get started. Knowing where good footholds are and keeping track of them makes the entire process easier. It keeps you from slipping because of exhaustion and deteriorating hand holds.

Check out the footholds before you use them as well. Know exactly where it is and what it is looks like before putting your foot in it. You want to carefully watch and feel out the perfect spot to put your feet while climbing to keep from slipping. Once you step into a foothold put a little pressure on it to ensure it stays put and your foot doesn't skid loose. That pressure acts as the force holding you in the foothold. Don't let it go.

Once you've gotten used to finding and feeling for those footholds your shoes will do a lot of the work for you. They're specially built to seek out those footholds and hold them well. Knowing how to find a good foothold and where to set your foot makes the entire process much easier.

For those just starting out in climbing, foot work is the most important thing you can work on right away. Once mastered, footwork becomes second nature to the best of climbers and allows you to better enjoy the overall sensation off scaling a perfect route.
About the Author
Tony Brian is a freelance writer for outdoor sports magazines and a contributing writer for tippmann a5 specializing in rock climbing and climbing rocks.
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