Academy: Placing Your Foot with Intention

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

Tags: Footwork, Beginner

Many climbers will take their eyes off a foothold before making a foot placement. You get close to placement, then figure it’s going to go okay and you move eyes upward to the next move. Just like in hitting a baseball, it’s critical to keep your eyes on the hold until it’s firmly placed. Only after this is accomplished should you look to the next holds.

  • Look at the foot you’re going to use. Recognize where the good part of the hold is going to be, what angle the usable surface is, how your foot has to align to the surface, how your hips need to be placed to maximize usability. (That’s a lot, but practice allows you to intuitively understand these things instantly).
  • Watch the hold all the way through placement
  • Place your foot carefully on the optimal position on the hold
  • Set your leg, knee and hip in the necessary position to capitalize use of the hold
  • Once your foot is placed, have confidence in it
  • Focus on keeping pressure on the foot all the way through next movement

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Practice Drill: Sticky Feet

  • During your bouldering warmup, climb or traverse allowing yourself only one chance to place each foot. Look carefully at each foothold before placing it. Notice its shape and subtleties. Take time to think about how you have to move on that foot. Once placed, foot must stay there for the duration of the move without moving on the hold--it "sticks" on your original placement.

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