Climbing lessons debrief: Flags

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This is a debrief from last week’s climbing technique lessons.

Lesson 7


  • Extend the warm-up with muscle activation circuit: 5 push-ups, 3-5 pull-ups, and a 10-second hang (straight arms, activated shoulders!). Repeat the circuit 3 times.
  • Negate a barn door by utilizing a back flag

Observations: The warm-up: When warming up, the hang board is not the appropriate place to do the hangs. Find something more substantial to hold on to, for example, a couple of nice jugs or a pull-up bar. Hang-boards put a lot of pressure onto fingers and tendons due to the small surface available for the fingers. Hang-boarding before the warm-up is complete can lead to injuries.

Back flags:

  • Why are they useful? In certain positions, the body will want to rotate out of the wall (the “barn door”). An example of such a position is when we hold on to a wall with a foot and a hand directly above each other. Upon release of the opposite hand, we will barn-door out of the wall. The back flag can provide torque in the opposite direction and prevent rotation. Back flags are also useful as a tool to move on the route with fewer moves. They are a faster alternative to back-stepping. This can be advantageous in steep sections of the wall where we want to move quickly. The downside of a back flag in comparison to the back step is that the force through the holding hand is greater.
  • Execution: The key to execution is that the flagging foot actually pushes into the wall. It is not merely hanging in the air.
  • Extra: On some walls, and especially boulders, the back flag will be forced by the lack of good holds. It’s definitely an essential tool in the climbers' toolbox.

Video recommendations

Video: (Climbing Analysis) Stop the Swing - 3 Ways to Negate a Barn Door

  • What is a barn door?
  • Three ways to negate it

Video: Technique Training for Beginners: Back Step VS Flag

  • Frontal climbing style (this is what we do as beginners)
  • Back-stepping
  • Back-flagging