Technical heel hooks


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

So one skill I've been trying to get better at as I try to push my bouldering grade is technical heel hooking, particularly in problems that call for really specific hook moves and pulling with your hamstrings. I've done a few problems that require "rolling" your heel and know about pointing your toe to lock in the heel, but what often gets me are moves where you have to hold a hook while shifting body positioning (e.g: problem starts with a really high heel hook above your head, then you pull up/mantle until you can eventually stand on it).

What I often find is that a hook will feel solid when I'm underneath it, but when I get higher and my body position shifts, my heel slips. What adds to the difficulty is the fact that these problems with obligate hooks usually feature lockoffs on really shitty holds, so it can be hard to keep your concentration and body tension to maintain and adjust the hook. Any advice?

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Out of curiosity, what grade are you trying to push too? The first heel hook that I encountered was on a 3- where my right heel matched the hold my right hand was on, level with my head (followed my moving my right hand straight up). And it was a very mandatory move. It took me months to figure it out. But the best advice I got was to keep my right hand on the hold until I was practically standing straight up. It made all the difference. I don't know your situation, but making sure to use both your leg and arm will help distribute your weight and make it easier to lift yourself up

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50

Take off your shoe, place it in the ideal "after the move" position, roll. Now you have an idea how to form that heel hook.

As a rule of thumb. Take your shoes off and place 'em with yer hands. This is the key to understand tricky footwork.

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Pavel Burov wrote:Take off your shoe, place it in the ideal "after the move" position, roll. Now you have an idea how to form that heel hook. As a rule of thumb. Take your shoes off and place 'em with yer hands. This is the key to understand tricky footwork.
Theres a first time for everything I guess. Never thought I would hear "take your shoes off and place them with your hands"

How about climbing upside down so you know where to put your feet. Wouldn't that be just as good?
Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50
Tylerpratt wrote: How about climbing upside down so you know where to put your feet. Wouldn't that be just as good?
Nope.

Reversing moves is the first step. The most obvious and primitive.
Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Pavel Burov wrote: Nope. Reversing moves is the first step. The most obvious and primitive.
Nah, climbing upright is primitive. Climbing upside down is futuristic.
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

Most of your pulling should be done using your gluteus not the hamstring. That's why when you see the pros doing the heel hooks, they toes are turned out. Also, by turning it out you will gain the precision. Once you figure that bit out, you'll be able to heel-hook a quarter-pad edge and it will feel secure enough to pull on.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Nivel: what do you mean by "turned out"? Do you mean pointing your toes forward (as opposed to up)? If so, I do do that and it helps immensely...I never thought about it as engaging your glut instead of your hams.

Baba: Right now I can get up just about any V3 and some V4s at my gym, which is a bit on the stiff side. I'd like to be able to climb most V4s and some V5s, if that answers your question. I guess I would say I'm looking to go from V3/V4 to V4/V5.

Pavel Burov wrote:Take off your shoe, place it in the ideal "after the move" position, roll. Now you have an idea how to form that heel hook. As a rule of thumb. Take your shoes off and place 'em with yer hands. This is the key to understand tricky footwork.
That's a cool idea!
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
Ted Pinson wrote:Nivel: what do you mean by "turned out"? Do you mean pointing your toes forward (as opposed to up)? If so, I do do that and it helps immensely...I never thought about it as engaging your glut instead of your hams.
So lets say you are placing a heel on a flat hold. At the initial stage of the placement, it's the outside of your heel that should be making the contact with the hold, as opposed to the bottom of the heel. The foot is sideways (i.e. shoe laces are facing away from the wall, not upwards). What this does is interesting - it allows you to engage your hamstring to press the heel into the hold sidewas and at the same time allows you to use your butt to pull or support yourself on that heel. I can tell you by experience that you can make a quarter-pad two-finger crimper into a secure heel hook by doing that.

If you look at really good technical climbers like Ashima, it's really apparent at 50th sec then again at 59th sec, 3:20 min and 3:40 (starting heel hook on Vortex yoga and then another one on a vertical crimper a little later).

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Huh...interesting. Will have to try that!

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

That's about where I'm at, too. All V3's, most V4's. And 1 V5 project. In that case, I'd have to agree that turning your foot outward is the best position. Ashima shoes it off really well in the video posted above (at the 3:40 mark better than the 3:20 mark).
It might be a little uncomfortable if you don't have too much rubber on the sides of your heels (my vapor V's are lacking it there). But if you can get the placement right, you'll see a huge increase in your ability to pull up your body weight by just your heel

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Yeah, that's what I was wondering. Luckily I just picked up a pair of Solutions, so no worries there, but it probably wouldn't work as well with my Hiangles.

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 290

I agree by turning your toes out you can make a bad heelhook better. I think this is the result of turning your knee out so you can apply more force toward the rock, thus increase the frictional force on the heelhook. But I don't think you need to pull on every heelhook with your toes (and knee) turned out. Whether to do this or not really depends on which direction you want to pull on the heelhook.

Using the above video of Ashima as example, in the first heelhook at 0:50, she had to turn her toes and knee out because that heelhook is under a roof, so there's no place for her toes and knee to go. The second heelhook at 0:59, she had to turn her knee out in order to place her heel on the hold, but as soon as she pulled into the heelhook, her knee was pointing up, and so were her toes. Now if that jug of a heelhook is replaced with a much worse hold, I imagine Ashima will keep her hip slightly further right under the roof, and turn her left knee and toes out in order to pull more inward on the heelhook.

Lastly, I think this move puts more stress on your knees. Ever since I tweaked my right knee, whenever I do a heelhook with my right knee turned out, I can feel a twinge in my right knee. May not be a big concern to the young bucks, but something to think about for the older folks.

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Aikibujin, That was something I meant to mention, too. About your knee. Since your knee joint isn't a ball and socket like shoulders and hips, putting too much force on them sideways is a surefire way to do real damage. So be sure your footing is solid, and don't try to hold yourself with your toes pointed out for long. Know where your hands will go before you even place your heal to make the transition quickly

Long Ranger · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 75

I have very tight hamstrings, but just a word of caution: I have pulled my hamstring by trying to heel hook to almost a rockover when the heel was above my head, so be careful. The amount of force can be very great if your hands are low, the rest of your body is lower, and you heel is the highest. This happened not when I was pulling into my body with my heel, but rather trying to pull my body up from my heel. Hamstrings are big muscles and hurt when pulled.

The idea to pull in from your ass is probably a great one. It's easier for me to visualize it similar to doing a pullup using your back, rather than your arms. Perhaps pivoting your heel to the side rather than placing it squarely on the back of the heel itself is similar to the differences of doing a pullup, and a chinup.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

Yeah, one of the few times when you appreciate any stretching that you have done is when you have to throw a high heel somewhere. Both active and passive flexibility are required too.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Was watching a bunch of Alex Puccio and Paul Robinson videos...sh!t, you guys are right! They do turn their toes out. Will have to try that as soon as my damned gym opens up...lazy bastards were closed for New Years. :p

https://youtu.be/xcLZoajoafE

https://youtu.be/FFjl_r7D9mo

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

There might be a version with English subtitles, but I could not find it. This Cafekraft clip goes through smart heel and toe hooking in detail. Really worth while to watch, even if you don't speak German:

https://vimeo.com/149254136

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

For sure!

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,365

Seen a few heel hooks. The best however was by Trevor Bowman. Check with him. He pulled this FA w/o any rehearsal and did it with "minimal rubber and maximum core strength". I think that is the key to a good hook. Be strong in the middle.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/109365097 4th bolt.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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