I'm working on a problem in bouldering where the swinging of my feet take the grip away from my fingers and throw me off.

Specifically, I am in a bat-hang, and need to reach an edge hold about 3.5 ft. away from my hand's current hold. I cannot reach this edge without my feet slipping off. But of course, when my feet do slip, even when I manage to grab the next edge, the swing of my legs inevitably throws me off from the other side.

I can include a photo to show what I'm doing, but I mean to ask a general question:

What are some things I can do to minimize that swing?

I saw several others doing the same problem, release one foot from the bat-hang and bring their knee to their chest, as if to compact. I see that this reduces mass at the outer radius of my body being accelerated by gravity.

Is there anything else I can do? I tried slowly slipping my last foot off the bat-hang, but that's only reducing the foot's fall by a few inches (while destroying the top of my shoes).


Here are some photos of the specific problem I'm working on. But I've had the same question in other problems, anywhere where the feet come off while reaching for a hold.

Here's the starting position of a bat-hang, then how my legs swing after release and finally how I swing off the edge holds due to the swing:


  • 2
    You want to exercise your core stability to stop swinging . Planks, side planks, hollow rocks and supermans. Just search in the internet core stability and the exercise
    – Desorder
    Dec 23, 2016 at 20:03
  • For that move, I would use the swing, allow my left hand to come off and replace it further to the right, which would deaden the swing instantly.
    – Rory Alsop
    Dec 23, 2016 at 22:18
  • Do you have the strength to release one leg at a time?
    – paparazzo
    Dec 24, 2016 at 17:55
  • Yes, and in fact I tried two ways. (1) Bringing my right knee to my chest to maybe minimize radial mass being pulled down by gravity. (2) Letting my right leg dangle as close to ground as possible to maybe dampen the swing. (1) worked better, I think. But I wondered if there's more I could do. Dec 24, 2016 at 18:52
  • Swing once on the first hold with both hands?
    – paparazzo
    Dec 27, 2016 at 3:46

5 Answers 5


In general the best way to reduce/dampen your swinging is what Desorder mentioned in a comment:

You want to exercise your core stability to stop swinging

When you strengthen your core then your core can provide more resistance against the swinging motion. Depending on your strength you can reduce your swing or eliminate it. To see some extreme examples of core strength allowing you to hold improbable poses do an image search on "gymnast on rings." There are even some training exercises you can do for climbing on rings, but any core conditioning exercises will help.

For your specific problem I think increasing your core strength will be the best, but that is more of a long term plan. In the short term I'd ditch the bat hang since it is clearly generating too much angular momentum for you to control at the moment. While your pictures are excellent I can't evaluate the problem very well just with pictures, nor am I an amazing climber. That being said, I'd recommend figuring out how you can get a foot on the hold that you have your right hand on in the first picture. By putting your foot there you will be able to grab the next hold without an uncontrollable swing. It seems to me that you could heel hook the hold your feet are on with your left foot on the forward edge. That would open your hips and allow you to put your right foot on the hold your right hand was on. From there you should be able to remove your heel hook and grab the next hold with your right hand. Once again I don't know if that is a viable plan, but it looks like a possibility based on the pictures and will eliminate any swing.


If you can grab your current hold with both hands: do a pull-up, as high as possible. Then release your feet, in any convenient way. While your body starts swinging, reverse the pull-up, so your arms reach fully extended position when your body is roughly vertical. Then try not to lose your grip while your body continues the swing.

The idea here is that somehow your angular velocity is getting eaten up by your body straightening, like in the example with the spinning skater (I cannot really explain it physically). With less angular velocity it's easier to stabilize your body with your feet in the air.

Not sure you can apply this in your specific situation.

  • 1
    I'll give this a shot this week and let you know. Thanks! I won't really know until I try, but a reason I can see this not working is if the reverse pull-up motion actually adds angular momentum via pendulum / playground swings effect. Spinning skaters (and spinning in office chairs) extend the leg(s) on a plane orthogonal to gravity's force. But here the extension would be in the direction of gravity. We'll see, though! Dec 26, 2016 at 11:16

One method to reduce swing is to get your centre of gravity up higher. On this problem it would be a matter of locking off on your left arm while going for the blue hold, then when you grab it, get your upper body as high as you can and keep your core tight. This may be difficult, because if that green hold is as slopey as I think it is, then your body angle is critical for keeping that hold.

You also have a nice arete there to try and toe-hook on, this could give you a little more extension with your arms, and help you make the move a little more static.

My guess is this problem was made by someone a little taller than you. I'm one of those guys who's over 6ft tall and has a +5" ape index. Being lanky makes it a lot easier to reduce swing because you can reach the far holds without being stretched out as much as everyone else, and you can transfer a lot of you body weight to the far hold before cutting your feet.

If you don't have the length, then you need to make up for it with strength and technique, and there's only so much technique can do to help you. There will be a point where the only way you can beat the crux is to get stronger.


Cliffs LIC! Tucking your legs in would indeed reduce the angular momentum and help control the swing, as would working on upper body and core strength.

For that route I would say the swing is unavoidable, but if you can convert it from a vertical pendulum swing to a horizontal "helicopter spin", it would feel a lot more static. Strength and wingspan permitting, of course.

Failing that (and I hate dynamic moves like this one seems to force), I would try piking my legs to the left to counter the swing.

  • LIC?
    – anatolyg
    Dec 28, 2016 at 11:02
  • That's my local gym; I recognize the wall. I'm on medical leave right now, but would really love to come back just to check that route out!
    – Quinto
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:59
  • @anatolyg - Long Island City :-) Dec 29, 2016 at 13:34
  • @Quinto - This set should be up another 2 weeks, hopefully you'll be able to give it a go! Dec 29, 2016 at 13:35

You could also try releasing your feet first and using the resulting swing to drive the move to the next hold that way you can start use your existing hand holds as a stable base to resist the initial acceleration and transfer your right hand to the next hold at the last moment.

However as other answers have stated it really comes down to a your finger strength to hang onto the hand holds and your core strength to control the swing.

But perhaps thinking in terms of using your legs to swing yourself to the next hold in a controlled way may work better than diving for the hold with your right hand and then hoping to control the momentum of your lower body.

Indeed perhaps you could swing your right leg inward to get a friction hold on the underside of the overhang that is enough to provide a bit of braking

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