Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Silent Feet

We all know that climbing is all about the feet. We encourage each other with calls of "Watch the feeties!" and "Those are feet, not baked potAtoes!"
Here is an article about your feet. The awesome power of Silent Feet. You can click here for the whole thing, but these are the highlights.

As your main points of weighted contact, your feet matter. Placing them silently forces you to be deliberate and aware with your choice, placement, and movement onto and off each foothold. Here’s how:

Shoe Design
First, let this key principle marinate: climbing shoes are designed to focus power into your big toe, making it the main fulcrum around which your body rotates. The strongest part of your forefoot, your big toe sticks out the farthest (usually), forcing the other piggies to follow its lead

The Only Foot Placements You’ll Ever Need

1. Frontstep
This is the simplest, most stable position. Point your foot into the wall and place your big toe directly on the hold, resulting in a squared-off stance.

•Silent Feet Frontstep Method: First, straighten your arms, hanging in a rest position on your skeleton to survey your foothold options. The key to Silent Feet is slowly and simultaneously to contact the wall’s vertical plane and the foothold’s horizontal aspect — so visually track the movement. Imagine the rock has wet paint on it — will your foot leave lines or dots? You want to leave the smallest imprint possible: a microdot.

2. Instep
The instep uses your shoe’s inside edge, still standing directly on your big toe. The resulting position — if instepping with both feet — is the “frogleg”; it’s crucial to highstepping.

•Silent Feet Instep Method: Lean out from the wall and spot your foothold. The key is to weight your attached foot, giving you the freedom slowly and precisely to place the hovering foot. Externally rotate your hip, allowing you to use your big toe’s inside edge. As you make contact, relax your foot, allowing it to absorb weight. Noisy, sloppy footwork stems in part from a rigid ankle joint.

3. Backstep
Learning to backstep (drop-knee) is quite possibly the most important technique for overhanging rock. Like a row of dominoes, it creates a “wave of extension” that lengthens your body: the pivoting of your toe into a backstep drops your knee, which in turn elevates your hips, driving movement upward.

•Silent Feet Backstep Method: Set up as if initiating a frontstep or instep: arms straight, weight primarily on your attached leg. This time, internally rotate your hip, exposing your shoe’s outside edge to the hold. As your foot makes slow, deliberate contact, point your toe down, raising your ankle and driving the movement upward from the power point of your big toe.

Kevin Jorgeson still uses Silent Feet, ensuring precision footwork when it counts . . . like 40 feet off the ground on the FA of Ambrosia (5.14 X).

Funny Games

Learning to use and place your big toe effectively and precisely is the goal. Here, three Silent Feet drills to hone your skills:

  1. Team up. If your feet make a sound, you must repeat the boulder problem or route. Don’t move on (or let your buddy move on) until you feel you’ve climbed as cleanly as possible. Never settle for slop.
  2. Extend a strip of electrical or painter’s tape laterally across the bottom of your shoe, from just under your big toe to the pinky toe. If you step anywhere other than your big toe, you’ll quickly feel a difference in friction and have to make the necessary adjustment.
  3. Do different moves — such as reversible drop-knees during a traverse — off the same set/s of footholds. This will test your foot placements as you pivot between body positions. If you’re using your big toes correctly, you should have no problem keeping your feet on. —KJ

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