Knee Drops and Flagging

Kneedropping and flagging are both ways of using your feet to position your body for either moving or stabilizing. This section will deal with these two techniques for movement.


Kneedrops occur when you backstep you foot on the same side of your body as the foot. For instance if you put your right foot out to the right and it is placed as a backstep then you knee will be pointing in towards you rather than away from you. If your foot is higher than where your knee normally would be and you turn your knee in and down then this is a deep drop knee, the classic definition of the term.

This technique is very useful for holding your hips against the wall on steeper angles, it is not that useful for slab climbing. If your hips are against the wall then you are able to pull across your body with your other hand.

Try this. On a slightly overhanging wall start with your hands at chest height on two straight down pulling holds that are about shoulder width apart. Place your left foot on a foot hold directly below the handholds at a comfortable distance. Take your right foot and place it just below hip height about two feet to the right. Turn your right knee in and down and try and pull your right hip against the wall. This should make it easier for you to reach with your right hand out and up. Do the same thing out to the left. You can also try and climb into these positions and then out of them. It helps to rotate in and out of kneedrops.


Flagging is when you only have one foot on a foothold. Even without another foot hold the other foot can be used to stabilize or to generate momentum. This is accomplished by flagging. There are roughly three types of flagging:

• Normal Flag – the leg that you are flagging is out to the same side. If you have your right foot on a foothold and place your left foot out to the left. The left foot can be smeared or in the air.

• Reverse Outside Flag – the leg that you are flagging is crossed behind the leg on the foothold. If you have your left foot on a foothold and cross your right lag behind your left leg.

• Reverse Inside Flag – the leg that you are flagging is crossed in front of the leg on the foothold. If you have your left foot on a foothold and cross your right left in front of your left leg. This flag is particularly useful for avoiding a foot match.

The degree to which to flag will depend on what you are trying to do. On a move that requires a flag you may need to play around with how much you want to flag. It will depend on how far you have to move, what your other foot is on and where, and the size of handholds you are using. Try and climb one footed to see where flagging is useful and where it is not. Remember to try all three types of flagging in order to build these moves into your climbing repertoire. Below Orrin Coley kindly demonstrates the techniques explained in this post


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>