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"Work On Technique"


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Daniel T · · Riverside, Ca · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 35

What kind of drills do you guys use to get better at your technique?  I often hear people on various podcasts saying they work on their technique 1-2x times per week but I haven't heard them say anything about the drill they do.  I know I need to lose weight but I would like to get better at my climbing and push my grades this season.  I don't really care about looking dumb in the gym I haven't been able to get outdoors in a few months and I'm feeling really really heavy and out of practice.

Stephen Lander · · Columbus, OH · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Number 1 drill is to focus on footwork precision, putting weight on the point of the toe in most situations. 

It's less drills than it is focusing on particular aspects of what you're already doing. I.E. focus on keeping arms straight and hanging as much as possible, focus on keeping core tension so feet don't cut, learning how to most efficiently grab certain types of holds, focus on how your hips are turned and how that affects the moves. From there move on to heelhooks, toe hooks, knee bars, etc. 

Hang out with some good climbers and just try to imitate their beta on problems/routes.

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 30

I do that when I warm-up, among other things. I think it's easier to improve it on things you can climb somewhat easily, not at your limit.

When I warm-up, I climb slower than I usually would. The reason being that I feel it gives more time to my muscles/tendons to stretch and get used to the exercise. I usually stay a couple seconds on each holds, even though I could easily just launch for the next one. That allows me, for example in a overhang, to find the "best" rest point for each given position. Maybe I need to flag a little further out right/left on a given hold to really minimize the effort I need to hold on, or maybe I need to turn my hips in a little more. I think that overtime, this helps me better understand subtle differences in balance and I am better able to predict (say on onsight) where the ideal position will be, as opposed to wasting time/energy trying to find it or just flowing through the sequence on sub-optimal body positioning. Since you're climbing slower, it allows you to think about HOW exactly you should put your feet on that next hold (toe, heel-hook, outer/inner edges etc., and which part of the hold exactly to go for...).

Another key to that is to repeat the same routes/problems numerous times, ideally in close sequences (since you're warming up and they are relatively easy, should be doable). Sometimes you notice slight variations in your sequences. You can also use that to try different styles for the same problem (static/dynamic, layback or gaston/sidepull, etc.).

So for example, if you're usually sending say V4-5, I would be doing this on V1-2-3. So stuff you would typically flash or send very quickly.

If your gym as a slab, I used to that a lot - climb with only your feet. You need fairly slabby slab. You can press your hands against the wall for balance, but that's it. THis really works you balance.

EDIT: yeah, as Stephen said above - adapt this to your level. If you're rather beginning and/or your technic isn't very solid yet, use that to observe how much easier it is with straight vs bent arms etc... 

Tomily ma · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 295

A goofy one but I like it. 

For each successive hand hold of a route touch it and the touch the one you just left before grabbing the next one. Helps you do moves statically and have better body positioning.

DynoDave · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0
Stephen Lander wrote:

Number 1 drill is to focus on footwork precision, putting weight on the point of the toe in most situations. 

It's less drills than it is focusing on particular aspects of what you're already doing. I.E. focus on keeping arms straight and hanging as much as possible, focus on keeping core tension so feet don't cut, learning how to most efficiently grab certain types of holds, focus on how your hips are turned and how that affects the moves. From there move on to heelhooks, toe hooks, knee bars, etc. 

Hang out with some good climbers and just try to imitate their beta on problems/routes.

"focus on keeping arms straight and hanging as much as possible"

Do this only if your goal is to trash your shoulders and elbows for the rest of your life. 

Derick Page · · Ft Collins · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 35

As a beginner, I still practice one or no hands on easy slabs at a local bouldering area to focus on my foot placement/trusting my feet. I'm sure this could be done at most rock gyms.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 442

If you're gym doesn't have a slab that's low enough angle to practice with no hands, another option is climbing the easiest boulder problems (V-B or V0) only using one hand. It will force you to experiment with different foot positions on footholds and adjusting your center of gravity, etc. 

Max Tepfer · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 1,645

While you're never really done focussing on placing your feet with precision, you reach a point where you're ready to move on to the next step.  At that point I think it's best to leave drills behind and just try to climb as many different styles of route on as many different types of rock as possible.  Bonus points if you're including routes that others might consider to be poor quality.  It's a similar mindset to the idea that there's no bad snow, just bad skiers. (myself included)

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

Something to consider is one handed traverse. The drill will naturally push you to dead point every second move = great precision and overall balance.

Andrew Hewitt · · Somerville · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 430

Here are a couple of drills I've done which I have found very useful. 

1) Precise feet. This is where you climb a route or boulder problem but you have to hover your toe for 3 seconds before you place the foot. This gets you much better at placing a foot once. 

2) Coins. Similar to precise feet, except find an empty corner of the climbing gym (or go really early) and place pennies on all the lower footholds. Then traverse the wall. If you knock off any of the pennies, do 10 burpies or something to punish yourself. Yes, it's really annoying to do this, and people might hate you if you do it during busy hours, but you'll get very precise quickly. 

3) Toe touches. Find some good holds on an overhanging wall. Grab those holds. Then you want to swing your body and dynamically place your feet on different holds. I believe they describe it in this Climbing Mag article: https://www.climbing.com/skills/training-7-simple-drills-to-improve-footwork-and-technique/

Footwork is probably the most important thing, but obviously straight arms is important too. I would just climb and have someone critique you if you start bending your arms. Or throw something at you. 

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 745

Self-Coached Climber has a chapter on technique drills, and the book comes with a DVD that demonstrates the drills, if you are relatively new, this might be helpful.

The common drills that are helpful to start are silent feet, glue hands, pivot-and-flag, same-side-in traverse, no-hands slab climbing.

If you have the basics down, then focus on a few drills that are specific to what YOUR weaknesses are. Get input from people who see you climb. If you always climb square, work on pivots, flags, backsteps, same-side-in traverses, etc. If you rely too much on your arms, spend extra time on no-hands climbing, the straight-arm traverses, movement initiation, etc.  And then just think beyond drills into bigger picture. of you always climb slabs, get on overhangs, if you climb dynamically, work on climbing more statically sometimes, things like 3 sec pauses on every move before touching the next hold, climbing both up and down.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 456
Lena chita wrote:

Self-Coached Climber has a chapter on technique drills, and the book comes with a DVD that demonstrates the drills, if you are relatively new, this might be helpful.

The common drills that are helpful to start are silent feet, glue hands, pivot-and-flag, same-side-in traverse, no-hands slab climbing.

If you have the basics down, then focus on a few drills that are specific to what YOUR weaknesses are. Get input from people who see you climb. If you always climb square, work on pivots, flags, backsteps, same-side-in traverses, etc. If you rely too much on your arms, spend extra time on no-hands climbing, the straight-arm traverses, movement initiation, etc.  And then just think beyond drills into bigger picture. of you always climb slabs, get on overhangs, if you climb dynamically, work on climbing more statically sometimes, things like 3 sec pauses on every move before touching the next hold, climbing both up and down.

This, generally. Whatever you need to work on.

To start thinking about my first ice climb, I spent time on a treadwall. The drill was simply mimicking ice movements until I fell off, all holds on. That helped a lot. At the very least, I was confident I could change to a different movement pattern. Helped my head a bunch to know that it was not going to be a total train wreck, and the trip was super fun!

Now, it's all the "cheats" I can figure out, to get up stuff with an old, short, body. Challenging to the point of tears, sometimes, but so, so, fun! Forcing myself to work parts that don't want to bend at all is preserving my mobility, too. I have arthritis, obviously pushing isn't a good idea with injuries.

Best, Helen

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 12,744

If you want good outdoor footwork, there's just no substitute for lots of climbing on rock - mostly less than vertical - outdoors.

And climbing with No hands is not really the key to footwork -- though _outdoor_ no hands is a valuable part of the learning process.

Need to get experience (pushing your limits) with every combination of slopy feet with slopy hands or with side-pulls, or underclings. Side-slanted feet with with etc ete. Semi-jammed foot with etc etc.

As long as you incurring the overhead time + effort outdoors for approach and set-up, also adding some down-climbing practice is another way to get more useful mileage for your "technique" experience (as well as increading outdoor safety in real climbing situations Trad / Alpine / Solo).

Ken

P.S. Fingers ...
Getting your fingers really strong opens up lots more options for better footwork. Especially as get toward outdoor 5.11, lots of slopy footholds can be made to work only by hanging outward (or sideways) from thin or slopy hand-holds.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 568
Lena chita wrote:

Self-Coached Climber has a chapter on technique drills, and the book comes with a DVD that demonstrates the drills, if you are relatively new, this might be helpful.

RCTM has a chapter on technique development that is worth reviewing, although generally overlooked.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 12,744
Lena chita wrote:

Self-Coached Climber has a chapter on technique drills, and the book comes with a DVD that demonstrates the drills, if you are relatively new, this might be helpful.

Yes that's a pretty good collection of basic techique "starter" tricks (with an indoor-climbing emphasis) . . . so get the basic terminology, get a feel for the non-intuitive "style" of some of the tricks -- also sensitize you for things to look for watching other people climb.

The other approach is to do lots of bouldering together with people who have better technique than you - (on a style of rock or plastic which you mainly want to improve your technique) - and ask them to give you suggestions about what's preventing you from sending. Likely the best way to get to the "next level" of technique sophistication.

Ken

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 456
kenr wrote:

If you want good outdoor footwork, there's just no substitute for lots of climbing on rock - mostly less than vertical - outdoors.

And climbing with No hands is not really the key to footwork -- though _outdoor_ no hands is a valuable part of the learning process.

Need to get experience (pushing your limits) with every combination of slopy feet with slopy hands or with side-pulls, or underclings. Side-slanted feet with with etc ete. Semi-jammed foot with etc etc.

As long as you incurring the overhead time + effort outdoors for approach and set-up, also adding some down-climbing practice is another way to get more useful mileage for your "technique" experience (as well as increading outdoor safety in real climbing situations Trad / Alpine / Solo).

Ken

True, but...

Some of us have this thing called winter, and don't have the luxury of year round outdoor climbing.

:-(

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

Arguably the most important part of the equation is to stick to one or two particular drills for long enough. If one"tries" new drill every training session they will raise theirs technique shittiness up to amazingly incredible level.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 12,744
Old lady H wrote:

Some of us have this thing called winter, and don't have the luxury of year round outdoor climbing.

I've been out skiing 4 of the last 5 days, expect to be doing lots more of it for weeks to come.

My advice remains: Use indoor climbing to work mainly on technique aspects which are well-oriented to indoor climbing, like back-stepping and flagging, etc. Don't waste much time indoors working on footwork drills with the false hope that they will give you a jump-start on outdoor climbing in the spring.

Ken

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
Pavel Burov wrote:

Arguably the most important part of the equation is to stick to one or two particular drills for long enough.

Arguably the most important part is being able to execute the correct technique once, followed by having the spacial awareness to repeat it. The actual number of repetition is somewhat overrated.

Also, slab technique is vastly different from overhang (of various degrees) technique that not much translates (besides pretty basic stuff).

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

The actual number of repetition is somewhat overrated.

Exactly. Moreover with a developed enough technique more repetitions translate to technique degradation.

Bill C. · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 110

This is an oldie but a goodie:

Put some jingle bells on your shoes. Climb with enough control/precision so that the bells don't ring. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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