5 Climbing Drills to Improve Your Technique

On-The-Wall Training Drills to Build Impeccable Technique...
Mar | 30 | 2021

So you’re training hard, feeling strong, and looking good… but you can’t seem to break into the next grade? Your feet pop off footholds, your constantly ‘barn-dooring’ to one side and feel extended when reaching for the next handhold. These are all the telltale signs that strength isn’t your problem, technique is…

Regardless of what you see online, be it one arm hangs, front levers or insane dynos, the basis of climbing is technique. Before climbers begin striving for strength gains, they should first focus on climbing with flawless technique. By doing so they will supercharge their climbing, allowing them to send harder, more technical problems with maximum efficiency.

But What is “Good Technique”?

This is a hard question to answer, as improving technique is essentially a never-ending process. But the basis of possessing good technique means a climber demonstrates;

  1. Controlled and methodical movement.
  2. Maintains centre of balance at all times.
  3. Uses precise and secure footwork.
  4. Approaches a sequence with the most efficient beta possible (not the most direct).
  5. Alternates between various grip-types to suit the hold-type and preserve energy.

5 On-The-Wall Technique Drills


Goal: This drill is designed to improve a climber’s footwork accuracy and placement.

When climbing boulders or doing laps on a spray wall follow these rules:

  1. Before every foot placement, softly tap the bolt hole or the hold directly above the foothold with your toe.
  2. Once that is done, place your foot on the hold without touching the wall. Slowly weight this foot.
  3. It’s imperative you keep your eyes on the foot and foothold through both the ‘tap’ and ‘place’ action.
  4. Complete this drill while not getting too pumped, then drop off the wall and rest.

Bonus Technique: try doing this drill while also keeping one of your hips into the wall for the duration of your movements. After a rest change hips.


Goal: This drill promotes proper body position while climbing, to ensure you are always well-balanced when reaching for the next hold. It is ideal for dynamic climbers that rely upon fast and powerful movement to climb problems, but aren’t utilising proper footwork or body positioning.

When climbing boulders or doing laps on a spray wall follow these rules:

  1. While climbing always maintain at least three points of contact with the wall.
  2. When making any hand movement, pause just before you grab the hold for 3-seconds, then grab the hold and continue moving.
  3. Focus on your body position and foot placements to ensure you don’t “barn-door” during the 3-second hold.


Goal: This drill forces climbers to use higher footholds and engage the powerful muscles of the lower body.

When climbing boulders or doing laps on a spray wall follow these rules:

  1. Always shift your weight and hips over the highest placed foot or the foot closest to the next hand hold.
  2. Focus on directing both tension and power through the highest foothold – helping drive you upwards to the next hold.

Bonus Technique: For taller climbers, or those looking to make the most of foot placements, practice this technique while also opting to use the highest footholds available. Imagine yourself ‘climbing in a small box’ in somewhat of a scrunched (but explosive) position.


Goal: This drill helps climbers to maintain a correct centre balance while climbing instead of relying on dynamic movement. It also helps to strengthen the open-hand grip position.

When climbing boulders or doing laps on a spray wall follow these rules:

  1. Climb slow and methodically on the wall – no fast or dynamic movements.
  2. Use only your index, middle and ring finger to climb (Three-Finger Drag) – No
    thumbs (Sloths don’t use thumbs!).
  3. Try to use mainly holds that aren’t jugs and aren’t positive, meaning you can’t
    curl your fingers full around to grip the hold.


Goal: Forces climbers to use footwork and body position (twisty hips!) to reach the next hold, rather than simply muscling through the arms.

When climbing boulders or doing laps on a spray wall follow these rules:

  1. Keep any arms that are in contact with a hold straight.
  2. Move up and down or traverse the wall while maintaining the above rule.
  3. Focus on twisting the body and bringing the hips close to the wall to reach the next

Pick and Choose

Try each of these drills in your next climbing session. It helps to use a spray-wall and a phone to film yourself, so you can review your technique and body position later. Once you find which drills are the most challenging, you can begin to identify areas of technique you need to work on.

Once your technique improves and these individual drills become second nature, you can begin to link them together. For example: Sloth climbing while straight arm drills with three second pause.

Written by Cody Waldon
Exercise Physiologist B.Ex.Sci, G.Dip.Ex.Sci, FRCms.

As an Exercise Physiologist and avid climber, Cody Waldon applies his acute understanding of movement and the body’s response to exercise to develop progressive training plans and drills for climbers of all-levels.

Written by Alpine IC


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