‘Smearing’ is a friction-based technique for climbing or bouldering. It involves pressing the sole of your shoe into the rock, generally keeping your heel lower than your forefoot, to create as large a contact area as possible to securely grip smooth surfaces such as slabs or volumes—and impress with your performance on both. This technique requires flexible shoes with a soft sole and grippy rubber so you can create as large a contact area as possible between the rubber and the climbing/bouldering surface so as to generate the desired friction.


‘Edging’ is when you precisely place the edge of your shoe near your toes on really small footholds. Depending on the situation, you may use the tip of your shoe to edge while facing the rock and push yourself up to gain ground. If you rotate your shoe inward or outward and edge using the area of the shoe just next to the tip, you move your hips and thus your body’s center of gravity closer to the wall to make it easier to stand up or initiate a vertical movement.

A harder climbing shoe with a rather stiff midsole and somewhat harder/thicker rubber can alleviate strain on your feet muscles. Furthermore, the edges near the toes should be angular and as non-rounded as possible. Edging is mainly used when climbing walls with small footholds, holes, and ledges.


‘Clawing’ is primarily used on overhanging routes and ceilings, where you can quickly lose your footing. To prevent this, you try to claw the foothold or available structures with your foot. This involves you exerting a great deal of pressure on the front of your shoe by making a clawing movement with your toes. 

Especially with soft shoes, this movement causes the tip of the shoe to bend slightly so as to sit on or even round the structures you are trying to grip and create a high level of friction. Sufficient body tension is important for this technique. The softer and more flexible the sole of your shoe, the better the technique will work. Pre-tensioned shoes and shoes with a strong downturn also make perfect choices here. When climbing walls, ‘clawing’ can also be used to grip a foothold at a distance with one foot before pulling the body’s center of gravity further up or even over the foothold.