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Balance and Momentum

Use Your Center of Gravity.

Being mindful of your center of gravity and the type of movements you make can help you climb more effectively.


When climbers change positions on the wall they are employing the concept of momentum.

momentum = mass × velocity

Impulse causes a change in momentum.

Newton's Second Law of Motion

force = mass × acceleration 
force = velocity time
By rearranging the equation,
force × Δtime = mass × Δvelocity 
impulse = Δmomentum

Movement Types 

  • Static
    The climber makes slow, controlled movements from one hold to another while maintaining balance. Low Δmomentum means less force.
  • Dynamic
    The climber makes fast movements that require momentum to reach the next hold. However, changing your momentum during these moves requires greater forces.
diagram showing the center of gravity location on human body

Center of Gravity. (CoG)

An imaginary point where the average location of the weight of an object is thought to be concentrated.

*The center of gravity for humans is approximately at the belly button.

diagram showing the distribution of weight among points of contact in two different climbing positions

Manipulate your CoG.

Experienced climbers use different body positions to manipulate the location of their center of gravity to make certain moves and holds easier. 

diagram of a rock climber keeping their hips close to the wall to reduce the weight supported by their hands

CoG Pointers and Tips

Left: During a “rocker” move, a climber moves their CoG over their foot, which greatly reduces the force held by their hands. 

Above: To climb slabs, a climber can lean in to “edge” on good footholds and reduce the weight on their hands ( above left), or they can lean back to “smear” and get the most out of poor or nonexistent footholds (above right).