We hear a lot of first-time climbers say: “I’ll never be good at climbing, I don’t have enough upper body strength.” Well, we’ve got some great news: a lot of climbing takes place in the legs. It’s a balancing sport, one that requires expertise in the delicate art of shifting your weight from foot to foot.
Learning to focus on your legs and figuring out how to shift your weight can be a bit challenging in the beginning. But it is vital for your climbing - we weight shift every time we take a step walking. The issue with climbing is that our hands allow us to weight shift poorly by taking some of the weight off our legs.
Here are a couple of cues to help you get on the right path.
Let’s look at body position. To start, place your toes carefully on the target foothold. Next, shift your hips over your ankle and repeat the process all the way to the top. To check yourself, look down where your ankles are. 9 times out of 10, your ankles will be in between your hips.
An important note: really focus on placing your foot onto the next foothold slowly and deliberately. This will prevent you from prematurely shifting the weight and give you a solid technical base early in your climbing career.
Check out this video of two climbers at our Sunnyvale location to see what we mean about shifting your hips over your ankle.
Games and Drills
One of the best ways to master weight shifting on the wall is to first practice off the wall.
First, start with your feet close together. Start stepping one foot out and shift your weight on top of it. Then, step your other foot out and shift your weight again. Continue walking out into a V shape and shifting your weight with each step. Try tapping your big toe three times before committing to each step. You’ll notice two things: A) the further out the V you go, the closer you have to crouch to the ground, and B) it gets harder the further out your feet get.
Second, making your moves as slow and controlled as possible will take your weight shifting skills to the next level. See how long you can make each move last for an extra challenge of your newfound balancing skills.