Move of the Moment - The Flag
Welcome to the latest Move of the Moment! Today we'll be looking at a fundamental movement, The Flag. You'll have used this move before, though not necessarily in climbing. The Flag is a natural way of balancing your body when leaning particularly far in any direction, which also makes it a great way of directing your body weight onto a single foothold.
We (the climbing community) often tell new climbers to have three points of contact at all times, for maximum stability. However, this is rarely possible when moving through the grades, with two, one and sometimes no (the dyno) points of contact regularly employed during a climb.
Today we've got Lizzie giving us a fantastic demo of the Flag, so lets dive right in!
The best way to think about the Flag is to visualise a see-saw, with one leg as the point which the horizontal bar rotates around. As the torso leans forwards (or sideways, or backwards) the other leg moves to counteract the motion and keep the balance point roughly over the foot on the floor, as we can see in image 1.
So what does this look like in climbing terms? We can see in image 2, Lizzie is climbing up the Red using the Flag technique. The majority of Lizzie's body weight is to the side of the foothold, meaning her left arm has to hold on tightly. To reduce the weight on the arm, Lizzie has pushed her spare leg away from the hold (in the opposite direction to her body) to attempt to counterbalance some of the forces. Legs are heavy, and can act as brilliant counterweights.
In image 3, Lizzie begins to stand up and move towards the next hold. We can see her counterbalance leg has not moved up the wall with her, instead coming closer to her body as her body moves closer to the foothold - she is attempting to keep as much force through the foothold as possible for the movement. This is the same contra-lateral movement style we looked at in the Footplant, Layback and other MotMs.
In image 4, we can see Lizzie employing the same technique on a yellow climb. Again, Lizzie is utilising the "spare" leg to counterbalance her body. In the images below, we can see her leg moves closer to her body as she stands up on the foothold, keeping the balance point as close to the foothold as possible. A good thing to point out here, is that for a large number of people, one leg is strong enough to hold, and usually propel, you up the wall - the arm/s simply fine-tune the direction of movement. For those with particularly weak legs (in relation to their body weight), the Flag may be less useful.
Try out the Flag for yourself around the centre - how much weight can you take off your arms? What kind of terrain is it most useful on?
Remember to warm up properly before testing out any of our Moves of the Moment.
Want to learn more about this move and others? Why not book on to one of our improver courses: