How To Rock Over – Climbing Technique 101

Rocking over is a common climbing technique utilized on slabs. Mastery of this move and proper execution will help you advance on slab terrain.

📚 This article is part of a wider guide: Climbing Technique 101

What is the rock over?

The “rock over” is a climbing move in which the climber shifts their weight over a secure foothold by swinging their hips. The term “rock over” refers to the motion of rocking over the foothold.

It is a fundamental climbing technique frequently required for slab and sometimes vertical routes. Many climbers have practiced this move in one form or another without knowing the name. Now you know.

The Rockover demands coordination, balance, and oftentimes flexibility as well. Although the term “rock over” refers to any maneuver where you rock over a foothold, it is frequently applied on high footholds that necessitate a certain degree of flexibility to attain.

rock over to top out a boulder problem
Climber placing a heel before attempting a Rock Over to top out a boulder problem | Image by Joshua Tree National Park

how to perform a Rockover

The “Rock Over” is a relatively straightforward technique in rock climbing, but it does require a considerable amount of practice. Here’s a brief clip where Neil Gresham demonstrates the Rock Over and how to execute it correctly.

1. find a high foothold

Identify the foothold on which you are about to rock over and place your foot firmly on this hold.

2. Pivot across

Next, you’ll want to shift your center of gravity over the foothold. As Neil Gresham warns, avoid pushing during this phase, as this may result in loss of balance if attempting to combine these actions.

3. Thrust upwards

Only after shifting your weight over the hold, you can proceed by driving upward. This can feel daunting and unnatural at first as you have to trust your feet to keep you on the rock.

common mistakes while Rocking over

rushing the move

Rushing the move is the #1 mistake made during rockovers. Many climbers, particularly novices, tend to rush moves and climb at a fast pace. Hurrying the “rock over” can quickly cause loss of balance, resulting in a fall back onto the mat.

not properly shifting your weight

The first step of the rockover is to shift your weight over the higher foothold, messing this up can result in a loss of balance.

poor foot positions

If your foot isn’t correctly positioned on the foothold, you won’t be able to maintain the stability required to finish the rockover.

lack of hip control

Hip movement is essential in rockovers. Without control over your hips, you won’t be able to shift your weight resulting in a loss of balance.

not using the arms

Your arms play an important role in maintaining balance, use them when performing the rock-over technique.

practicing the Rock Over

The “rock over” is a technique that demands coordination and stability, and thus, must be rehearsed to master it. Here are some tips to help you get better at the “rock over” technique:

  1. Start gradually: execute the rockover move slowly, focusing on proper form and weight shifting first
  2. Emphasize hip control: give your hips special attention and ensure that you shift your weight fluidly from one foot to the other
  3. Engaging your arms: remember to use your arms to support your balance during the rockover
  4. Practice on different terrain: the rockover is a helpful move on both slab and vertical terrain, practice the move on different terrain and footholds to master it
  5. Continue to practice: add the rock-over move to your warmup routine, this will build muscle memory and force you to use it whenever you need it

when to use the Rock Over

The “rock over” is a crucial technique for climbers navigating slab terrain. This move enables you to reach high footholds, requiring a balance of flexibility, stability, and coordination to perform correctly.

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