For beginner climbers, one of the best things to learn is the different types of rock climbing holds. Every gym will have slightly different individual holds, but it’s good to know their general types. Knowing the different types of rock climbing holds will allow you to easily share beta with other climbers! One of the best aspects of the climbing community is working together to solve a problem. Keep reading to learn 8 main types of rock climbing holds.
Like most holds on this list, pockets vary in size but have one defining feature: they’re holds that you can fit one or more fingers in. Very small pockets will only allow one finger, while some of the larger ones may allow you to fit up to 3 fingers. They’re pretty much just super tiny holes.
Pro tip: Believe it or not, your middle finger is the strongest – who knew!? If you find yourself working with a one-finger pocket, try grabbing it with a middle finger to see if the hold feels more secure.
Get your mind out of the gutter – in the world of climbing, jugs are a type of hold! Jugs are typically larger sized holds that you can fit your entire hand around. They’re easy to grab and feel safe to hold onto thanks to their hand-optimized shape.
You’ll find jugs on a lot of problems in the beginner range, from VB-V2.
Pinch holds are pretty self-explanatory – they’re made in such a way that you have to pinch your hand around them. Pinches come in many sizes, ranging from crimpy pinches you can only get a few fingers around to large pinches that you have to squeeze your entire hand around.
Pro tip: Many pinches will have a ‘sweet spot’ that is ideal for grabbing. So, if you ever find that a pinch is too wide or too awkward to hold in one way, give it a few grips in different places along the hold and see what feels most comfortable!
There are so. many. types of edges. The most common that I’ve seen is a thin, long hold that you can flatten a few fingers against with each hand. Sometimes they can be difficult to differentiate from crimps if they’re short and thin enough, but the main giveaway is that you can easily get both hands on the hold.
Foot chips are exactly what they sound like… itty bitty holds made exclusively for your feet. (Don’t worry, every climber in the history of ever has used a foot chip as a handhold at some point. It can even be a fun challenge to give yourself if you want to try something new – “only use footholds as handholds”).
If you have a slight fear of heights like me, these teeny tiny foot chips can be truly horrendous. Seeing one of these bad boys near the top of the wall makes my stomach churn!
There are two main things to know to overcome this fear and conquer those footholds!
- You’ve gotta trust those feet! You’re in full control when you’re climbing – trust yourself and your abilities as a climber and you may just be surprised at the outcome. 🙂
- Know that your shoes are made exactly for this moment. A good pair of shoes can be a lifesaver with these holds. Good shoes allow you to wiggle your foot onto the seemingly nonexistent foot chip with confidence and know the rubber of your climbing shoes will keep you stuck to the wall!
Volumes are kind of a hold, but kind of their own thing. They’re those big, (usually) triangular shapes that you’re allowed to use as a kind of supplemental hold on your route. They add a third dimension to climbing problems, and make for a fun challenge.
The rules for how and when you can use the volumes will vary from gym to gym, so if you’re not sure, just ask!
Slopers are big, round, bulging holds that you can’t really grip. Slopers are one of the trickiest holds to learn to work with, but once you’ve got it down, they may just become your new favorite.
Working with slopers is all about learning to best position your body. It can also help to find added features in the hold that make it easier to grip, like dimples or textured areas. If you’re having trouble on a sloper, try and grab onto it from a few different angles to see what feels best!
Crimps can vary greatly in size and difficulty, but their one defining trait is that they’re only big enough for the pads of your fingers.
Some crimps (known in the climbing community as ‘credit card crimps’) are so small that it almost feels unrealistic you could fit your fingers on there! These are typically found on more difficult problems, though.
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