I came across 'silent feet' a few months ago and been trying to practice it since - I can't quantify it but it feels like it's one of the best (if not the best) things I've tried and I think my climbing has improved a lot as a result. All I do is basically try to place my feet accurately (no readjustment once the foot has been placed) and quietly (i.e. pay attention to balance).
Since I just read about it briefly one day and didn't really get advise from anyone before doing it, I have a couple of questions:
1. Is it just an exercise that I should do for a fraction of the climbing session (I've read it can be done as warm up) or can I just do it for the duration of the session. I pretty much try it for most of the climbing session with the exception of some problems that I am just trying to complete (usually if time permits I go back and try to do them again with silent feet)
2. When trying to do it, it sometimes feel that I am taking more weight with my arms that I would normally do (i.e. I pull one holds with my arms more in order to place my foot quietly and accurately). Is this normal or is it because I am unbalanced?
3. Is it worth keep doing this (i.e. will I continue benefiting from it) or is it mainly for complete beginners to understand about balance and good feet placement? (I feel I am not a complete beginner but my technique definitely needs a lot of polishing up)
In reply to Simos: Accurate foot placement is a fundamental requirement of good technique, keep doing it as much as possible, regardless of grade. Practice it on the smallest footholds for greatest gains.
1. No, do it all the time
2. Your arms may be tired because you've slowed down to increase accuracy, as you improve you'll be able to speed back up (with foot placements) and remain accurate.
3. Yes keep going, no it's not for beginners, it's for everyone.
In reply to Simos: son and I call this Ninja's and Castles. I stand at one end of the bouldering wall with my back turned and you try and sneak up via the wall without being heard. at first it started out as just a game for him to learn about placing and balance, but then I started doing it and realised it changed my foot placement style for the better. +1 for keep doing it. Dress as a ninja for extra bonus points.
In reply to Simos:
IMHO it's something to aspire to all the time, but if it's actually the top thing on your mind all the time then there's a risk that your technique will suffer in other areas and you'll pick up different bad habits. So I try to mix up climbs really focusing on silent feet with climbs thinking about something else (like straight arms, not over-gripping, breathing steadily, moving quickly and smoothly etc) while still having quiet, accurate footwork at the back of my mind...
Yes that is my worry too and I suspect partly the reason why my arms get more tired is that sometimes while worrying about accurate foot placement I pull too much and/or bend my elbows (apart from moving slower, which is also true as I pause for a moment before placing my feet).
I guess I just need to multi-task but one tip I was given in another sport is to not try and focus on everything at the same time but repeat the task and focus on getting on thing perfect every time e.g doing the same route, first just trying to get perfect foot placement and not worrying too much about arms, then do it again and focus on keeping arms straight without worrying too much about feet etc. Obviously once you feel comfortable with all the different aspects you do the route again and try to put everything together.
In reply to Simos: My footwork used to be absolutely shocking until I started putting a real focus into it, this technique builds great precision and control which is very necessary for hard climbing. Keep at it!
In reply to Simos:
This is a great exercise. Try watching videos of Jain Kim on the lead world cup circuit vs. other top climbers for a great example of the difference 'silent feet' will make at the highest level.
In reply to Simos: If you do silent feet on slabs, and get used to lightly holding your balance with your hands, you can clock up the hours on rest days, without getting tired. Obvious this requires a bit of commitment.
In reply to Simos:
Maybe alternate back and forth? So climb for a bit with silent feet as your main focus, then climb for a bit thinking consciously about good body position while your body is still partly in "silent feet" mode, then go back to thinking consciously about silent feet while your body is still partly in "good body position" mode, then think about quick, smooth movement for a bit while your body is still partly in "silent feet" mode etc
I tend to do this while rainbowing around on a quiet bit of wall, so I've got more control over the rhythm of what I'm doing than if I'm either on a route or a series of boulder problems...
I wouldn't focus on climbing all the time with silent feet if you're still learning how to position your body efficiently. However, as your technique and precision improves you should find that you're automatically climbing with 'quiet feet' all the time eventually.
Precision is one major part of footwork, the other being knowing where to place your feet, which part of your foot to use and at what angle. Being supple in your hips and back will assist with getting your foot onto a hold quickly, precisely and to then be able to load it effectively.