Good footwork is the foundation to good climbing. Most climbers think their footwork is better than it actually is, and could be better climbers simply by improving their footwork. Here are some drills and tips to improve it:
Quiet feet: By far the best drill you can do is called quiet feet. It involves climbing while focusing your attention on your feet. It goes something like this:
- Look at the hold you want to move your foot to
- Visualize exactly where you foot will go, which part of the foot will touch the hold, the angle, etc...
- While looking at the hold, move your foot up to the hold, and place it softly on the hold. Make sure you look at the hold the entire time, until the new foot is placed.
- If you made any noise while placing the foot, move it back to the previous hold and start over.
- Otherwise, move your hands, and do the next foot movement in the same way.
This drill helped me improve my footwork greatly. It takes time, but it's a good thing to do while warming up (i.e. start with 30 minutes of "quiet feet" each time you climb). Your footwork accuracy should improve within a few weeks, but this is a good exercise to do all the time.
No-handed climbing: On a very easy climb that is low-angle, practice climbing without using your hands at all. Bring your feet up, and push with your legs only.
Shoe fit: It may or may not go without saying, but if your shoes don't fit well your footwork will suffer. Make sure your shoes are snug (but not overly tight), and that you lace/velcro them well.