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We know left-footed football players, we know right-handed and left-handed batmen and bowlers, we know left-handed or right-handed tennis players, and so on..

I know being a right handed guy I could hold a crack better with the right hand, and probably my first move upwards would prefer a right hand grip. But, does the idea or the phenomenon of climbing makes a person rely on both arms and legs equally (most of the times) ?

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    Some Left and Right handedness in sport is to do with your dominant eye, so you can be right handed for writing but left handed in certain sports :) fun fact. – Aravona Apr 2 '15 at 9:33
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    If you're hanging on with one hand the other, left or right need to be able to use the tools. – QuentinUK Mar 12 '17 at 11:40
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I both agree and disagree with Michael's answer. If you can train your weaker hand to be as good as your stronger hand then good on you but this isn't always possible.

My left is much weaker than my right. I train my left all the time but it's always not as strong as my right. As such, I will sometime vary my approach to "crux" moves so that I can get my stronger side onto it if possible.

so to answer the question:

But, does the idea or the phenomenon of climbing makes a person rely on both arms and legs equally

I'd say no, Not equallly. You will always try and get your weaker side as strong as your strong side but it's very very difficult to make both hands/feet equally as strong (depending on your dexterity). So you will naturally rely on your stronger side (especially during difficult moves) more than your weaker side.


Interestingly recently I broke me right hand(I am right handed). Fractured the 5th metacarpsal and my knuckle collapsed. Suddenly I found myself in a position where my left hand was my stronger hand. I've been slowly building the strength back up, but interestingly I now feel a lot more balanced. I'm not so worried about using my left for crux moves anymore.

Begs the question what comes first, is your right hand strong so you favour it or is it strong because you favour it.

  • You will always try and get your weaker side as strong as your strong side but it's very very difficult to make both hands/feet equally as strong (depending on your dexterity). So you will naturally rely on your stronger side (especially during difficult moves) more than your weaker side. Nicely said mate. – WedaPashi Apr 8 '15 at 15:18
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    You get to a point where balance and technique play a much bigger role than brute strength. I guarantee I could set routes that would be impossible to climb if you tried to climb them using a different beta than what I forced you to climb them with (in fact it's one of my favourite things to do while route setting). I can force right or left handed moves that can't be done the other way around, and you encounter routes in nature that do the same thing when you're climbing routes that are 5.11+ Your only option to get past those is to train your weaker side. – ShemSeger Apr 8 '15 at 15:58
  • @ShemSeger I always wonder about statements like "You get to a point where balance and technique play a much bigger role than brute strength." I don't think the ratio of importance between these elements changes much if at all with level. I think both are always important (not on one specific move but rather at a given general level of difficulty) and the one you are poorer in holds you back. Sure, there are particular styles where one is dramatically more important than the other but that's not what I mean. – Mr.Wizard Apr 15 '17 at 5:26
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Mostly yes.

Right- or lefthandedness is generally about very fine coordination and timing, which are necessary for accurate throwing and hitting. Strenght and endurance may be affected because one arm is then favored.

But the precision and timing of movements in climbing is much less critical. Using the hand that is better able to reach a hold given your current position in the route is far more valuable than doing the move perfectly on a hundreths-of-a-second and millimeter scale. And then, since both arms/hands are used equally, they both get trained equally when it comes to strength and endurance.

Of course that also means climbing will not make you ambidextrous in other things, since you'll not be training precision and timing.

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    Mostly I agree. Still it's not entirely correct that both arms are trained equally. I guess this comes more from the mind than from the need of precision. I for myself noticed that my "good" arm gets trained more because I use it more frequently for hard moves. That's a bad habit I am sure... – Wills Apr 3 '15 at 20:20
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I'd say the answer to this question is yes.

Being ambidextrous while climbing will make you a better climber, because there are certainly routes that have forced, right-handed or left-handed cruxes that simply can't be done the other way around.

I've seen people really struggle on problems that force them to rely on their weaker hand, instead of committing to going for the next hold with the hand that makes sense, they'll spend excessive amounts of energy trying to match hands on a tiny geek so they can attempt an awkward off-balance cross to the next hold with their strong hand, which of course doesn't work much of the time and they end up taking a fall.

These types of climbers are typically found in the gym, where they constantly set problems that suit their style, and their strong hand. I knew one guy that seemed to always make the crux of his problems to be a big move off of a strong right hand pinch, so I'd set problems with strong left hand pinches just to throw him off his game.

Climbers naturally have a dominant hand, but if you asked me which of my hands was stronger I'd probably have to say both hands were equally as strong, but my right hand is more accurate. I don't think I can hold on with one hand longer than the other, but I certainly have better aim with my right when I'm making big dynamic moves. If I did have a stronger hand, it would be my left, because it's the one that's hanging on most of the time when I'm aiming for a dead-point dyno to a tiny crimp with my right hand.

I think you could get away with being a climber that is dominantly right or left handed, but it will put a limit on your potential. I guarantee that the strongest climbers are indeed the more ambidextrous ones.

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