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.
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.