Rock Climbing Handholds

A climber is only as good as his or her grip on the rock. How to use handholds along with footholds and body-position techniques is key to being able to get up a route. When combined with strength, good balance, a sense of timing, and a relaxed attitude, even the smallest holds can work.

Here we cover some of the most common Rock Climbing Hand Holds.

Crimp: A handhold position for a very small hold wherein the fingers are hyperextended (first knuckle flexed). Locking the thumb around the fingers increases power. This is the strongest way to hold small edges, but it is hard on the fingers. Taping the areas between the knuckles helps support the fingers and is recommended for sustained crimping. Grip with the pads of the fingers, not the tips or nails.

Open grip: A handhold grip wherein the fingers- are not hyperextended but, rather, in a natural open position. This is the best hold for training because it is easy on the fingers. Large, sloping holds develop this type of grip strength.

Pinch: A handhold position, squeezing a vertical hold between thumb and fingers.

Pocket: A handhold created by a hole. Pockets range in size from a single-finger pocket to one large enough for all four fingers. ’17y to keep your fingers in the open position when gripping pockets. Some climbers find that the middle and ring fingers are the strongest two fingers for a two-finger pocket. Hold your index and little fingers with your thumb on a two-finger pocket.

Side pull: A vertical handhold pulled on with the fingers, with the thumb up and the fingers aligned vertically and reaching away from the body.

Gaston: A vertical handhold like a side pull, but held with the thumb down and close to the body.