Matching feet frequently on routes

One of my climbing partners recently pointed out to me that I match feet very often on routes – multiple times in one route – and I had never paid attention to this. Didn’t realize I did it so often or that it was a problem. He then challenged me to repeat a route without matching feet. I struggled, my flow felt off, and overall it felt so awkward to the point I was struggling with things like clipping just because I felt so off.

When I stick with my foot matching, I feel more in my “flow state”.

He pointed out that the way I climb (lots of foot and hand matches) is not the most efficient and could cause extra pump outside when I could be conserving energy.

Thoughts on this? I don’t really want to change my climbing style or have to think so hard about something that comes naturally, and I’m not sure how much energy it really saves. Stepping through or stepping higher when I could just do a quick match and adjust… is it really saving THAT much energy?

I’m sure if I stayed cognizant about it and practiced, with time it would feel more natural, but just wanted to hear opinions on the level of effort/energy of matching vs. not.

(FYI I’m typically flashing 5.10 and projecting 5.11s in my gym).

I definitely think it would be worth working on even if it doesn’t save energy. I’m sure over the long term you would learn something valuable just from trying it on warm up level routes or boulders for a while. You can always stick with your main style while you are working on projects or limit level climbing.

If you’re looking for drills I’d try one leg climbing, I think it was helpful for teaching me about back flagging.


I don’t think that matching feet or hands means that you are inherently climbing less efficiently.

I have the opposite problem, I avoid matching my feet and hands whenever possible. But there are times when swapping feet is necessary to maintain the best position.

You don’t have to change your style, but maybe this is an opportunity to examine your efficiency. There is no prescription for this right? If you’re goal is sending harder to doing rock climbs more efficiently it is probably worth working on trying to so said rock climbs in less moves.

Are you talking about matching feet (foot to foot) or hand to foot matching? The latter (at your grade level in my experience) could be a bad gym habit, where the hand holds will be huge as footholds and you can use upper body strength to avoid using feet that are currently harder to use/feel less secure. If that is the case, I would start working on reducing your reliance on having to have such extra-good feet all the time…

There will absolutely be situations in which unnecessary foot matching will be the difference between sending and not sending. Oftentimes a better foot sequence will be the key you need.

Your friend had good advice. Practicing something new shouldn’t be comfortable, and not everything you do in practice will be “right”. It’s just as important to learn when not to utilize a technique as it is to learn when to use it.

I’d practice it. You’ll learn to sequence things better, you’ll get better at anticipating setups, and you’ll likely find that your pacing will improve. Ideally, you also learn when matching is the better option.


specifically foot matching. I rarely hand foot match on routes

Then I don’t see it as a big problem but also second Kris’s suggestion of practicing not matching (I wonder how much has to do with the setting in your gym) to avoid it becoming too engrained. You don’t want to feel you “need to” match when you are outside for example with lots of other options.