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Academy: Toe Hooks

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

Tags: Footwork, Advanced

 

Toe hooks are often needed to control your lower body on steep routes in a bouldering cave. Sometimes they are also useful on less steep routes, but balance can be a bit more tricky in those situations. In general, a toe hook lets you keep your feet on the wall when more traditional methods aren't working.

Some of the same principles of matching slope and normal pressure discussed for toes applies to heel. Toe hook keys include:

  1. Maximize normal force into the hold
  2. Maintain core tension to keep pressure on the toe and allow yourself to reach to the next hold
  3. Match the angle of the foothold with your toe
  4. Most importantly: "Activate" your by pulling it toward your head

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Practice Drill:

After you've warmed up a bit, move into a steep cave area and practice toe hooking on different holds. If you're in a climbing gym, ignore the colors of the routes and just work on using your toe on a variety of holds. Experiment and see how bad of a hold you can use. Also experiment with different levels of core tension to see what is required for different body positions and different footholds.

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