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GRIPPING POSITIONS - Comparison and adaptation of predominate position

What's the reason for bad results on a boulder/route/competition? Is it an acute temporary down period, or is it simply that the holds you are fighting with don't suite your predominate finger position? This article aims to define and compare different gripping positions. It will give you practical tips on how to adapt to your dominant position. In a follow up article we will specifically discuss maximum finger training. Enjoy and don't
hesitate to send us your comments.

Open Hand
Open Crimp
Closed Crimp

Shown above are the three main gripping positions. The differences among them, besides the number of fingers that are used, are which finger joints are bent and the degree of contractions that are being used. What happens, is that your forearm muscles work differently. The length of the fingers may also effect the preferred position.

Open Hand: Best on fingerpockets
and often used on limestone,
traverses and roofs - Large Holds
Open Crimp: Best on edges and
often used on granite, steep and
dynamic climbing - Medium Holds
Closed Crimp: Best on tiny edges,
often used on vertical, static and
knee-drop climbing - Small Holds

Often, one of the finger position get predominate, this means that the other positions are less used, getting less training. The predominate position, for a certain climber, is normally the result of the most common hold/s that they use, either on home walls/crags. What happens when you encounters holds that don't suite the predominate position? How do you best adjust your finger positioning in order to be useful for all different types of holds? Below, there are three different ways of open crimping, showing different predominate finger strength

Straight index finger
The index finger is weak in the crimp
position. Worst on 3-finger open crimp
Straight little finger
The little finger is weak on crimp.
Weakest position closed crimp.
Crimp little finger
The thumb may make the
position stronger

Adaptation of finger position - The strategic dilemma
It's rather simple to change the predominate finger position as it's based on recruitment and nerve impulses. Start to practise the weak position by simply giving it hundreds of small immediate nerve impulses. As you get stronger increase the impact, but never more than the finger position can't hold. This is recruitment or nerve impulse training. You haven't gained any muscle strength, but some muscles have been re-awaken increasing your fingers gripping range. Finger strength training will be discussed in another article.

However, there is a strategic dilemma that has to be mentioned first. Should one opt for training the weakest or the strongest link? Once the weakest link is prioritised and trained, in the short run, the recruitment in the predominate position gets worse. You will loose some strength! The onsight climber needs a certain strength on all possible type of finger positioning, on the other hand the redpointer or boulderer can look for holds with their predominate finger match to send another 8a...


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