Monday, January 23, 2012

Rotation in Dynamic Moves

The entire idea of movement in climbing revolves around moving from one body position to the next. Knowing that it's more of a gradient rather than a binary concept, let's quickly look at the two main types of movement:

In more static climbing, a climber uses the holds they have to move comfortably into a body position where they are ready to change to the next hold. Examples of this might be perching weight on a good foothold before moving the hands, finding balance on one leg before stepping up to the next foothold, and locking off on one arm to move the other hand.

More dynamic climbing revolves around the climber making similar movements, but with momentum. A lockoff made dynamic might involve a lot more motion coming from the leg and hip, rather than the arm and shoulder. Especially on steep walls, and for very large moves, the ability to create and control momentum becomes crucial.

However, in these dynamic movements, the thesis I started with remains true. A dynamic movement is simply using momentum to move from one body position to the next, rather than tension. There are many applications of forced dynamic movement: most notably, larger upward movement becomes possible. Lateral movement can be added in to spice things up. Dynamic movement to poor holds can require immediate resistance ("holding the swing") rather than the constant tension offered by static resistance climbing.

Lately, I was inspired by a post on Facebook to think about how we can use body position planning to add rotation to dynamic movement. If the target holds require the climber to be in an externally rotated position, a twist is added into the dynamic movement. If the movement is also large enough to require a foot-cut, that twist becomes a full body rotation. In many cases, like Sharma's beta used here on Evilution, this is just enough rotation to get the body underneath the target hold. (Perhaps not the best beta, but we're just examining movement here.)

Moving B laterally will make rotation more or less evident.

Moving from A to B isn't a lateral movement, but requires rotation to get underneath B and grab it from a proper angle. Failure to do so would keep the climber from being able to weight the hold. The climber starts facing slightly right, but close to the wall, and ends facing straight rightward. In this case, when I say "the climber," I really mean "the climber's hips," because that's where the rotation is evident. The starting position will have the hips square to the wall, and in the finishing position they're facing nearly horizontal, with the direction of movement. Watch that video again and watch Sharma's hips to see what I mean.

It is also possible to rotate past 90 degrees. The big boy beta on Toxic Avenger (not a great angle, but you get the gist) involves a dynamic move that sends the climber from almost fully laid back facing left to facing right and almost away from the boulder.

Notably, Toxic Avenger climbs out of the opposite terrain (exiting a roof, rather than entering one) - this setup would present much less difficulty.

In this case, moving from A to B requires a much larger rotation, as the climber would start facing left. Again, the rotation is evident in the climber's hips. The starting body position will be nearly square to the wall, but the end position (before swinging the feet back on) will have the hips facing outward, in this case opposite the direction the climber moved.

That's all for now. And yes.. I do love responding to these kinds of questions on Facebook. Thanks for commenting, Aaron!


  1. Thanks again for a great post. Keep up the good work.

  2. I love seeing new posts on this blog, very useful analysis' as usual.

    Just in response to the end part about loving to answer questions, I think I may have one :)

    I do roughly 80-90% of the setting at my local wall here (not very well run so its pretty much voluntary because nobody else will do it, but I enjoy it), but anyway. I generally have no problems setting on flat or mildly overhanging walls, with regards to movements and interesting sequences. But when it comes to steeper overhangs I find myself having a lot of trouble coming up with interesting movements. Don't suppose you'd consider a summary or analysis of movements when it comes to steep overhangs, or a comparison between setting on flat walls and overhangs, or something along those lines? Might be a little too back-to-basics for some but just said I'd throw it out there :)

    If not, no worries. Thanks for the great blog either way :D

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    Mitch, I do have a few suggestions for you. First, movement is infinite - so just try thinking of anything you can try to set, and go for it! Watching climbing movies, climbing outside and even going to climb in other gyms can all help with this.

    Sometimes it can be helpful to make a list of all the styles of movement you want to set before you get to work - so I might have a list like one crimpy resistance problem, one problem with a foot swing to set a heel on the opposite side, a compression problem on big holds, etc.

    Even for easy problems it can help to distinguish them by style before you set - the easiest one might be straightforward moves on matchable holds, then one with less matchable holds that cross and weave a bit, to keep the climber's hands near their torso, and then one where the holds are relatively spread out and face away, to keep their arms wide and make 'em squeeze a bit. Try to come up with 3-4 ideas before you start, and stick with the format as much as you can. If you have a good concept for a route, just climb on it and often it will set itself.

    Also, I've been compiling a lot more movement analysis with the plan of eventually releasing an e-book. Where the blog serves to open a discussion on routesetting, the book would be more to help inspire movement, with a multitude of possible sequences, and 2-3 variations of each. So hopefully enough to keep any setter busy for a while.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. You should start discussing balance which is the relationship between the center of gravity to its base of support. More importantly than dynamic and static movement, you should discuss the differences between stable, offset and dynamic balances. Understanding how your center of gravity takes place in time and space will help you conceptualize movement.

  5. I did write a bit about balance here:, but it's a topic I would love to get back to at some point. Thanks for your comment!

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