Category Archives: Climbing Slabs

Features on climbing slabs

Corkscrew Rock Over / Rule of Opposites

Although similar to the rock-over as it essentially involves the transfer of weight from one foot to the other. Its difference comes from pivoting during the movement phase so that you arrive at the next point of balance on your outside edge, which as we have learnt from earlier exercises is more efficient. This keeps your hips and centre of gravity as close to the rock as possible, reducing the leverage onto you hands as you lean back.

A break down of the corkscrew rock-ver with the twist towards the end of the movement.
A break down of the corkscrew rock-ver with the twist towards the end of the movement.

Stand on the oor and raise your foot onto a hold using the inside edge of your boot. Use handholds for balance and rock-over. As you reach the point of balance pivot around on your foot to end up on the outside edge of your boot to nish.

Then try the pivot during the rock-over rather than at the end of the move-ment. Pivot round on the higher foot as you move up to arrive at the new point of balance on the outside edge of your boot.

Link a series of movements from foot to foot, concentrating on putting the twist in as you rock-over and arriving at the point of balance on the outside edge of your boot.

Compare this corkscrew rock-over to a standard rock-over, which feels easier? How do they compare on short distances and at the limit of your stretch? Short step or high step? Which type is easier on slabs, vertical walls or overhangs?

Pick a foothold directly above the lower hold and then a hold way out to the side. Try moving the pivot to before, during and after the rock-over. Does one need a stronger grip with your hands?

A corkscrew rock over onto a high ledge.
A corkscrew rock over onto a high ledge.

The rule of opposites

A standard rock-over tends to make us move left and right as we step up, whereas a corkscrew rock-over or a step through can help us to go directly up. Stepping across the centre line of your body and trying to stay sideways uses opposing left and right limbs.

So the rule is: The upper body uses the opposite limb to the lower body (left hand, right foot – right hand, left foot). Combined this with facing towards the hand you are using at the time.

Using the rule of opposites: Stepping up onto the outside edge of the left rock boot, and using mainly the right hand to layaway, and left hand to press down.

Rule of opposites exercises

Use only opposite limbs left hand – right foot and vice versa..

Emphasise the direction that you are facing, if you are pulling on your right hand then face to the right.

Now try making the pivot before you rock over so that you are always rock- ing over onto the outside edge of your foot. This will help keep your centre of gravity closer to the wall, reducing the leverage on your hands.

You may find that if the step is too high you will have to do the twist during the rock-over.

Experiment with higher and higher steps, reaching them using sidepulls.

How does the rule of opposite feel? Easier or harder when stepping through? Is there a height of step when stepping through that it is easier to twist before, during or after the rock-over?

Cork screw rockover/rule of opposites tips

  • Move fluidly, carried by momentum, between one foot and the other.
  • The pivot can happen before, during or after the movement. Experiment with what feels better when doing short or long steps, stepping out to the side or into the centre.
  • When you pivot before the movement you will back step onto the hold.
  • Use opposite limbs.
  • Face the right direction.


One of the more basic climbing movements (which you will have worked out for yourself no doubt) – how to transfer your weight from one foot to the next. Be awarene of your centre of gravity (usually around your belly button). The key is to rock your weight from one foot to the other fairly quickly and hit the next point of balance before moving on.


An everyday action like getting out of a seat requires rocking our weight from one point of balance to the next – a ‘rock-over’.

Rock-over exercises

Standing on the floor, raise your foot onto a bench and bounce up onto this foot. You have just performed a rock-over. This can be done with your hands at rst, but eventually you should be able to manage it without by gauging the amount of force needed to just arrive in balance. Too much and you fall over the foot you are rocking onto, too little and you end up back on the foot you started from.

Move onto a higher bench or a table, remembering to use both feet.


Rocking over onto a bench.
Rocking over onto a bench.

Try the move on a slabby wall, rocking up onto a foothold. Emphasise a dynamic and speedy movement to a point of balance. Visualise the next point of balance as your belly button or head moving to directly over the foot you are about to rock-over onto.

Rock over onto a slab
Rock over onto a slab

Now link a series of moves from foot to foot, each time concentrating on that point of balance.

Rocking over from standing on the floor,
a quick movement to re-establish yourself on a balanced position stood on the next hold, with the climbers belly button directly
in line with the foot.

You can demonstrate the shift of you centre of gravity from one foot to the other with a water bottle or weight hung from a belt in the small of your back (roughly where your centre of gravity normally is). The plumbline will hang directly over the foot you are balanced on.

Using a Plumbline to visual the point of balance.
Using a Plumbline to visual the point of balance.

The plumbline helps you visualise when you have reach a point of balance, when the weight is directly over the foot.

Try all this blindfolded (or just close your eyes) .You will need to rely on your sense of balance, rather than vision.

Advanced rock-over exercises

With well developed exibility you can attempt to place your foot beside your hand into a rock-over. This high stepping rock-over is particularly useful for the short, as well as on hard slabs. This will place strain on your groin, so build up slowly.

A high stepping rock over, where you match hand and foot before rocking over.

Stand side on when making the move and you will be able to step through onto the outside edge of your foot. Alternate stepping though with both your left and right foot to zig-zag upward.

Stepping through whilst rocking over
Stepping through whilst rocking over

Rock over tips

  • Move uidly, carried by momentum, between one foot and the other.
  • Hands can help you initiate and stop movement.
  • Concentrate on coming to rest on on one foot in balance.
  • Stand side on.
  • Pivot from facing one way to the other as you alternate the in which direction you headed.

Basic Climbing Techniques Overview

Imagine two identical twin climbers with equal strength, one uses good basic climbing techniques whilst the other doesn’t. The twin who uses their feet and body more effectively will be a far better climber. Rather than stumbling upon basic climbing techniques there are some essential building blocks which you can drill into yourself. In the following section there are some exercises that you can repeat and test on different climbing surfaces.

So that they can be repeated until they become second nature, many of the exercises need to be practiced on easy terrain. And by keeping the climbing simple we can gauge which techniques feel easier. For footwork excercises, small boulders can be very useful as hands are super uous. Otherwise start them on easy top-roped routes.

If you are already a climber, then you may have develop some poor technique, as such you effectively need to unlearn those techniques and learn the newer more efficient ones. This in itself presents all sorts of problems for the learner, as unlearning something is possibly harder then learning right the first time.

How Often Do I need to Train Basic Climbing Techniques?

You will need to regularly carry out these training drills to develop good fundamental technique over and over again. Until your default technique becomes the more efficient one. As you will find yourself if you haven’t spent the time relearning technique returning to the older less effective technique when you become stress.

As a rule of thumb, it is often worth spending the initial warm up of any climbing session focusing on technique. As first off the terrain should be easy and secondly focusing on this process rather than an outcome will help you to drive home these basic climbing techniques.