I have recently found the love for climbing again, after a few years out. Now its safe to say that my ability is not amazing, with a daily grade of about V3/4 and a project grade at V5.
I was wondering if anybody had any advice on ways to improve my footwork ? As I feel this is where I feel I have the biggest room for improvement at the moment.
Any information or insight would be greatly appreciated.
I don't have many answers, but I think "footwork" is:
a) something that is never mastered; there's aways more to learn
b) a catch-all for a lot of different issues.
When it comes to "footwork" people will say the usual, e.g.
- get a good, snug, stiff pair of shoes
- do practice drills, e.g. "quiet feet" when you warm-up
- appreciate the subtleties of different holds, e.g. on some you're edging and you need to place your big toe with precision; on others you're smearing, and you want to keep your heels low
- "a weighted foot never slips" - i.e. don't just put your foot on a hold: put power through your feet
However, there are a lot of other issues that are in the mix with footwork:
- lack of confidence and fear of falling, which can make you prioritise hands over feet
- hold choice: reading sequences well and making the right foot choices
- body position: because it's not just about putting feet on small holds with precision, but about enabling yourself to use feet by taking the right positions
- in line with the last one, ensuring that your feet are pushing you in the right direction, e.g. keeping your feet underneath your centre of gravity when you're trying to push yourself upward
- proprioception or bodily awareness, coordination and balance
- body tension and core strength
You don't say whether you're bouldering indoors or outdoors, but I think bouldering outdoors is a great teacher of good footwork. You may also benefit from doing some floor-based core exercises, especially if you're tall, as a strong core is what helps you to put power through your feet. Other than that, becoming more conscious and reflective about your footwork, body position, distribution of your weight and how you create power in your body to make each move.
There are lots of interesting resources that are an internet search away, but the only way to make them useful is to go and climb something in a mood of reflection and practice, paying attention to what's going on, giving focus and attention over a sustained period to all of the subtleties involved.
I'm a long way from getting close to mastering footwork, but these are things I'm working on so hopefully they'll be useful
As a pretty low-level climber, something I found (vaguely) worthwhile in the lockdown was just a rough textured 60cm x 60cm paving slab (B&Q 'Peak Buff' I think) leaning against a wall. Try different angles, see how long you can stand on it hands free, move your feet hands free without slipping, move around with just one finger touching the wall etc. I think the training possibilities could be improved with two slabs one above the other on a plywood ramp, ascending and descending with no hands, pencil on zones you can aim your feet at to make balancy sequences, etc.