Academy: Breaking X-Motion

Part of our "Toes to Knows" Climbing Academy series--covering climbing from footwork to mental preparation.

Tags: Advanced, Movement

X-Motion is an excellent tool for staying in balance during 90% of your climbing movement. We covered X-Motion here. But there is the 10% case where the available holds don’t support X-Motion climbing and you need to break it. In this blog post, we give three good methods for breaking x-motion while still maintaining balance.

Climbing with balance is critical to minimize the relative amount of effort you need for any given move. Reducing effort means you’ll be able to have more in reserve for the next move and will be able to climb longer and harder.

To recap, X-Motion is a method of anchoring your balance across your body, from left hand to right foot and right hand to left foot. This frees up your opposite hand to move to the next hold with minimal effort.

Same Side Climbing

90% of climbing moves can be done using X-Motion. When you’re not using X-Motion, you’re using what I call “same-side” climbing. This means you’re anchored on only one side of your body and when you move a hand, you tend to barn door off. In this picture, the climber is anchored only on her right side. When she lunges for the hold, she barn doors off.

Barn Door

You can offset this barn door in a few different ways. These methods assume you don’t have another foothold off to the side to check the swing.

Method 1: Move Quickly

Move Quickly

If you move quickly and catch the hold you’re going for with sufficient tension, then you can stop the barn door from happening. Timing is critical here. Ideally, you catch the handhold at the apex, or dead point, of your ascent. In this image, the climber catches the hold perfectly, and the hold is good enough to hang on for her.

EyeSend Belay Glasses

Method 2: Reverse Flag

Reverse Flag

A more static method is to use a reverse flag. In this, you cross your free foot behind you, flagging out to the side. This shifts your center of gravity and allows you to maintain balance while reaching toward the hold. Any time you feel yourself barn dooring off the wall, pull out the reverse flag and see if it helps.

Method 3: Hip Shift

Hip Shift

The hip shift is a less exaggerated version of the shift used in the reverse flag. Depending on the position of the foothold you’re using, you may be able to get away with just shifting your hips instead of committing to the full reverse flag.

Master these techniques for staying in balance when you can’t use x-motion and you’ll climb harder using less energy.



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