How to learn to trust tiny feet when climbing
One of the things we hear from those in our Introduction to Technique classes is how much people dread small footholds. You know the ones--the little, teensy, weensy specks on the wall that you tap, tap, tap with your foot in an effort to will your toes to trust them.
We've all been there and that's why we're going to look at how you (yes you!) can learn how to trust your feet on even the most microscopic footholds.
How to trust sketchy feet
Body positioning is incredibly important when it comes to trusting sketchy feet. First thing to keep in mind: you'll want to make sure your heels and hips are in a good position for the move. But how exactly do you do that?
- Identify where you want to place your foot on the teeny foothold, take a deep breath and then place your foot.
- For sloping footholds: drop your heels a little to get more shoe rubber (think the ball of your foot) on the hold.
- For small edges: raise your heels and engage your toes to help ensure the toebox of your shoe is firmly on the hold.
- Start to move your hips and shift your weight over towards that foot.
- Once you've shifted your weight over, stand up confidently.
Keep in mind that if you try to weight that foot with your hips still over the previous foot, you are likely to slide off the wall. Don't do that! Place your foot, commit to shifting your hips and your weight on top of it, and stand up confidently.
Our best advice
If we could give you our best tips for incorporating this technique into your climbing, it's this: practice in the gym.
Head to the bouldering cave and practice on bad footholds closer to the ground. If you fully commit and fall when you're close to the ground, no worries!
Or you could also head over to your gym's system and training boards. Look for a concentration of smaller footholds and practice trying out various positions using more comfortable handholds.
When something like that happens, you may also want to take a look at your foot placement--did you have your toe on the best spot on the hold? Another thing to consider: did you keep your core and lower body engaged when shifting your weight? And finally, sometimes it helps to clean off your shoes OR if it's extra humid in the gym or outdoors, put a little chalk on them.
Take one of our classes!
We go over these techniques and others, and give you several drills in our Intro to Technique and Intro to Technique LAB classes.
In Intro to Technique, one of our instructors covers the basics of how to start trusting and using your feet better. You'll also go over a lot of other climbing technique skills.
In Intro to Technique LAB, you'll get time with one of our coaches to work on this and many more climbing technique skills.
To sign up for one of our classes, find your gym's website, click on the calendar, and look for one of our Intro to Technique or Intro to Technique LAB classes.