Rock Climbing How To – Climbing Training on Body Positioning & Flagging Technique

Rock Climbing How To - Body Positioning

Rock Climbing How To – Overview

In this climbing training lesson, you’ll learn some extremely useful climbing techniques. This video training is part of the Top 5 Climbing Mistakes video series which you can get by signing up to be a free member of the community and get more tips, trick, and techniques (free sign-up and gift is available here).

In this post and video, we’ll cover:

  1. How to be conscious of your center of gravity while climbing to prevent uncontrolled swing-outs.
    • Not doing this can make you lose your footing on the climbing holds, and also drain your energy as you try to regain control and balance on the rock climbing wall.
  2. How to use the flagging climbing technique.
    • This technique is one that you can use in nearly every climb, whether you’re indoor climbing, or outdoor climbing. It will help you with your balance and eliminate that uncontrolled swinging out (also known as barn dooring).
  3. How to use the reverse flagging climbing technique
    • Similar to the climbing techniques above except with this one you flag by reaching your leg around the leg that is currently on the climbing hold. It serves the same purpose as the regular flagging technique except it is usable in situations where regular flagging cannot be used due to your body and hand positioning on the climbing holds.
  4. How to get extra foot reach on those extra high foot holds
    • Sometimes you just can’t get your foot on the next highest hold due to how high it is (i.e. you just may not be that flexible, or it is simply too high to just lift your foot straight up). In this case there is a climbing technique where you do an intentional swing-out which grants you those extra few inches you need to reach that out-of-reach climbing hold.

Rock Climbing How To – Lesson 1: Center of Gravity

The first thing to remember is that your center of balance/gravity is where most of your weight is and what causes you to swing out uncontrollably while you are climbing.

In the example below, look where Scotty’s feet are compared to his waist (his center of gravity) and his arms. You can see that being in this position causes him to swing out to the right.

If the swing out is un-intentional like in this case , then you are going to waste a lot of energy trying to pull yourself back in to regain that control. This wasted energy is oftentimes what can prevent you from completing your climb so it’s critical to know the right climbing techniques to prevent this from happening. Below are the tools needed to get you started. We cover this in much more detail in the PEAK Climbing Video Training Program, but the advice below should get you started.

Climbing Center of Balance and Body Positioning Example

An example of swinging-out (barn-dooring) while climbing. Notice how susceptible the climber is to this when climbing straight up with both hands and feet as there is nothing to help maintain that balance on the climbing wall. This is where the flagging climbing technique is of most use.

Rock Climbing How To – Lesson 2: The Flagging Climbing Technique

A critical climbing technique to master is called flagging. Flagging is simply placing your foot on the climbing wall, even though there are no climbing holds in that spot.

You don’t have to worry about the grip on your rock climbing shoes or the texture/grip of the climbing wall because you are simply placing your foot there for balance and are just touching the climbing wall (i.e. You’re not trying to push down on the wall with your rock climbing shoe. You’re just placing your foot there for balance so that you don’t swing out.)

This will give you the control you need to stay in balance and easily reach the next climbing holds on the route.

Training: Keep trying to apply the climbing technique whenever possible especially when first starting out. You want to get in the habit of doing this so that it becomes second nature and eventually you’ll start doing it without even thinking about it. This is the level you want to get to as then you can focus on mastering other more advanced climbing techniques.

Rock Climbing How To - Flagging Technique

An example of the flagging climbing technique in action. Notice that that balanced gained with this technique allows you to stay close to the climbing wall while maintaining perfect balance. Now it is much easier to simply reach up and grab the next climbing hold to complete your climb.

Rock Climbing How To - Flagging Close Up

A close up shot of the flagging climbing technique. Notice how the distance between the two feet is minor. You only need that little space to help keep the balance so definitely don’t lift your leg higher and much farther away as it’ll just burn unnecessary energy that you will need later for you climb.Also when flagging, it doesn’t matter whether you use the inside, outside, or the top of your climbing shoes like in the image above. Simply use whatever is most comfortable for you.

Rock Climbing How To – Lesson 3: The Reverse Flagging Climbing Technique

Eventually you will find yourself in situations where you would like to flag with your foot to prevent a swing out, but the foot that you want to use is already on a climbing hold and is busy  holding up all your weight, making it impossible to flag. The answer in these situations, is to use the reverse flag climbing technique.

The reverse flagging climbing technique involves you using the foot that isn’t on the hold, and placing it behind the foot that is on the climbing hold as shown in the picture below. That foot is now in a position where it can touch the wall and serve the same balancing function as a regular flagging technique.

Rock Climbing How To - Reverse Flagging Technique Step 1

Step 1 is to bring the foot that isn’t on the climbing hold around the back of the foot that is. With that foot there, you have just prevented any chance of losing control and swinging out.

Rock Climbing How To - Reverse Flagging Technique Step 2

Step 2 is to now straighten the flagging foot if possible. When fully straight, it will bring your body closer to the climbing wall, making it easier to grab onto the next climbing holds.

As you can also see in the video, if you have already starting to swing out, then you can still employ the use of the reverse flagging technique. In fact, you can use it to bring yourself back into the proper position using your leg, instead of your arms (which you generally want to do as it is much easier to lift and move your entire body with your legs instead of your arms).

In these situations you’ll notice that your flagging leg is bent, so you can simply push off with it while it’s in the flagging position. Essentially you’re straightening out your leg which will move your body back to the center where it should be, and helps you regain that balance. You definitely want to check out the climbing video lesson in this post is you haven’t already to visually see how this looks like in motion. If you do like the video, then definitely also check out the PEAK Climbing Video Training Program where we have a whole series of premium videos teaching you tips like these, taught by 4 experts with over 30 years of combined climbing experience.

Rock Climbing How To – Lesson 4: The Extra Foot Reach Climbing Technique

Now that you know about swinging-out and how to avoid it, you’re ready for a neat rock climbing technique where you intentionally execute a controlled swing-out in order to be able to reach holds with your feet that are simply too high up on the climbing wall.

You’ll notice that if you’re directly facing the wall, there is only so high that you can lift your legs to get to the next hold. When you reach a climbing hold that you need to get your feet on but it’s simply too high, one option is to simply jump onto it. While this will get you on the hold, this type of move can be very difficult to execute if your hand holds aren’t great. For instance if you’re barely holding on due to the really small climbing hold that you’re holding onto, then it can be nearly impossible to hold on while you jump up to a hold with your feet (i.e. your hands can’t support your entire weight while both your feet are airborne trying to reach the next hold).

In addition, jumping onto a hold actually wastes a lot of energy which can prevent you from finishing the route clean (i.e. where you complete the entire climbing route without letting go of the wall and without letting the rope hold you up while you rest).

The secret to get to those extra high foot holds is to simply swing your body in one direction and as you are at the peak of your swing, place your foot on the higher hold. You’ll notice that by swinging out and being to the side of the hold (instead in front of it), you will have the ability to get the foot much higher on the climbing wall than if you simply tried lifting your foot straight up while facing the wall. Once your foot makes that connection at the peak of your swing, your body will start to swing back to the center. It is at this point that you start lifting your body up the climbing wall using a combination of your arms and your leg which is now at that newly secured climbing hold. Remember to focus on lifting with your leg as much as possible when pulling yourself up the wall so that you don’t drain unnecessary energy in your arms.

Rock Climbing How To - High Foot Reach Technique Step 1

Step 1: Recognize that the next foot hold is too high to simply lift your foot onto into and refrain from trying to jump onto the hold (jumping will drain your energy reserves and you’ll need that energy later to finish the route!)

Rock Climbing How To - High Foot Reach Technique Step 2

Step 2: Do a gentle swing-out to the side and at the peak of your swing, place your foot on the climbing hold. At this point your body will begin to swing back to the center automatically. At this time, you must quickly begin executing step 3.

Rock Climbing How To - High Foot Reach Technique Step 3

Step 3: At this point your body is swinging back to the center automatically. As this is happening, push off with your foot that is now on the new hold and use your arms for balance.Try to resist pulling up with your arms instead of pushing off with your foot while doing this. In general when climbing, you want to lift your body weight with your feet/legs and not your arms whenever possible. By doing it this way, you are conserving your arm energy for those difficult sections on the route where you have no choice but to use mainly your arms.

Rock Climbing How To – Final Words

These tips will definitely help you get off to a good start. If you’re looking for some more tips, trick and more advanced moves, check out the PEAK Climbing Video Training Program here. As a reader you also get $10 Off the Full Program.

Also for more tips and tricks, be sure to sign up for free at here and get the full video series on the Top 5 Climbing Mistakes!





Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)


  1. Patsy
    5 years ago

    It’s imprteaive that more people make this exact point.

  2. Magaret
    5 years ago

    Your post on Rock Climbing Body Positioning and Flagging is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from Magaret!

  3. blackhat forum
    5 years ago

    Hey nice blog.

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