Academy: Drop Knee

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

Tags: Intermediate, Movement

Good hip motion is key to staying in balance when rock climbing. One way to drive hip motion is to use a drop knee. The drop knee helps create tension across your body and drive your hip toward the wall. The result is better climbing balance and less effort expended on a move. Read on to learn more about the drop knee motion and see a few examples.

Climbing with balance is critical to minimize the relative amount of effort you need for a given move. Sometimes you don’t have a foot placement available in a traditional location. One way around this issue is to use a higher foot with a drop knee.

A drop knee is where you put your foot out to one side, then twist your knee inward. Drop knees accomplish a few things: 1) it lets you use a foot in a vastly different position than a conventional foot, 2) it creates a natural tension in your body that helps you reach for the next hold and 3) it pulls your hip toward the wall to maintain better balance.

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Drop knees can be either subtle or aggressive. Sometimes a subtle twisting motion is all that is needed to get balanced and reach the next hand hold. If the foot you’re using is really high, then often a more aggressive motion is needed. Be careful with aggressive drop knees as they can put a lot of torque on the tendons and ligaments in your knees.

Below are pictures of the same move done first without any drop knee, second with a subtle drop knee and third with an aggressive drop knee. For this move, the drop knee allowed the climber to maintain good balance and hit the target hold without a huge barn door, making the move dramatically easier to stick.

Drop Knee

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