Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Movement Analysis: The Drive By

(While I finish up some posts in progress about the "routesetting biz", here's a post I wrote this summer. An ode to a move..)

I've been thinking a lot about the drive-by. It's been popular lately on the competition circuit:

Battle in the Bubble (3:30)
Teva Games 2009 (0:28 / deeplinked)
World Cup Vail 2010 (4:45)

Recently, I set a route up the front 45' of our boulder that featured a big drive-by lunge at a jug. It was a fun experiment at setting that move. First, I'll talk about the technical, boring aspects of the move. So if you're just interesting in learning how to set it quickly, head on down for the skinny.

Much like a standard dyno, the gist of the move is basically two steps: one, to force the climber to create momentum in one direction, and then two, to have them cancel it out when they hit the target hold (i.e. hold the swing.) What separates a drive-by from a stock one handed dyno is the momentum goes in stages: first one direction, then upward, then arcing back in the other direction as the climber hits the apex of their move. In other words, their free hand will look sort of like a clock hand swinging around from 6 to 12. The more momentum created, the bigger the clock face, the harder the move.

Basically, you can start with a sidepull lockoff, with the other hand around center mass (i.e. not very good to pull with) and good feet directly under the climber. Then, move the target hold high enough that the climber has to release body tension and perform a bit of a pop to snag the hold. This is closer to a stand-up than a drive-by, but I think it meets the technical qualifications.

Making the sidepull (the launch hold) a worse hold, or pivoting it downwards, will increase the difficulty of the second part of the move, and make the move feel more dynamic. Because they will have less purchase on the launch hold to control their body position once they start generating momentum, they will have to rely on the target hold to regain stable positioning.

Let's say you're using a left hand side pull, to the left of the body. Moving the feet to the left and keeping them low will make the move a simple "pop" with no drive-by element. Moving the feet further to the right can make the move very desperate very fast. The climber will use their poor right hand hold to rock over their footholds, then jump straight up. Their body will naturally curve left, hopefully snagging the target hold near the apex of the jump. With a sufficiently poor launch hold, this effect can make the move more of a drive-by dyno.

By altering the other hold, the one that will be released to grab the target hold, we can also dramatically change the body type of the move. As it moves past the climber's center of mass and closer to the launch hold, it becomes harder to rock over the feet and push off to begin the move. Moving it too far the other direction makes the swinging/rotating element of the move much less significant.

One of the keys of truly forcing the move is the directional nature of the off hold. Pivoting the launch hold affects the body positions created after the move has started, but pivoting the other hold (the hand you're reaching with) has drastic effects on the "setup" body position. Making the off-hold an undercling or opposing sidepull will give the climber a multitude of body position options, and maybe even let them attempt the move with their other hand. If you make that hold a gaston, they are forced to lay back on the launch hold and their body positions are constrained.

Finally, you can alter the target jug's position to change the amount of swing. Moving the target jug just a few T-nuts horizontally past the launch hold's vertical position can often change the move from a compressed, tight foot-cut with a bit of 'oomf' to a massive screaming-banshee 90-degree one-arm swing.

Sample layout

Here's a super simple example of forcing a drive by on a semi-steep to steep wall. In this case, you climb into the move from the right. It doesn't matter what the start is, so long as the holds are either necessary feet for the drive by move, or unusable for the drive by move. Remember, you want to limit the climber's options.

(Directionality indicated by the curved side of the hold.)

Hold analysis:

- In this case, hold A is a huge jug facing right. It's crucial that hold A is a great hold, but it should be low profile - very difficult to heel hook. For instance, the top hold in this set by Voodoo. Another great candidate would be the E-grips wonder hole.

- Hold B is a shallow edge or pinch, and shouldn't have a lot of bite to it. If it's too incut, the climber will be able to get opposition purchase for a heel hook. The lunar flats by E-Grips might be a good choice. A small thumb catch on hold B helps a lot with being able to hold the swing on the big move - alternatively, leave it off if you want to force them to cut the off hand and move into a one hand swing.

- Hold C can be anything you want. Just to figure the move out, I suggest a massive jug. My favorite jugs right now are the Teknik Supervillains.

Sample movement

Movement analysis:

#1. Left hand comes in to hold A as a gaston. Feet are on start holds or around terrain.

#2. Right hand matches into hold A.

(Left foot steps high onto the right foothold.)

#3. Left hand moves to hold B.

(Swap feet and move left foot to left foothold.)

#4. ("the" move)
- Keeping the left hand/arm extended for as long as possible, the climber rocks their body over the footholds by locking off the hold A jug, creating rightward momentum.

- When they reach the apex of the rockover, the climber straightens their legs, creating upward momentum.

- Right hand departs hold A. As it extends to grab hold C, the left hand's grip on hold B is holding them into the wall, causing their momentum to shift back left.

- The right hand latches hold C and the opposition between hold B and C is used to cancel out any remaining leftward momentum.

As you can see, one single move can require several body positions to set up. In this case, you could replace hold A with a smaller hold, make the feet into crimps that were start holds, and you'd have essentially the same move. The gaston/match is just to break up potential left-right-left monotony.

Need to switch this to a traditional one-handed swing drive by? It takes about two minutes. Just use this variation on a theme:

Variation on a theme:
-Move hold A further to the right, so it's not directly over the feet anymore. This will make it hard to generate upward momentum, and easier to generate rightward momentum with a natural barn door.
-Rotate hold B to be more of a gaston. It's crucial that hold B can not be used to pull directly downwards.
-Now, move hold C right a few feet, and maybe down a bit.
-Optionally, start the problem from the left to reduce the chances of skippage.

Now, when the climber sets up, they're going to naturally want to go with their left hand, the hold that was on hold B. If hold C is further to the right than hold A, the move will most likely require a wild one handed swing.

Suggestions for playing with drive-bys:
- Move the feet and watch as the climber's amount of swing varies drastically.
- Tweak the angle of your launch and off holds, even if you like the move the way it is. The body position difference / amount of "try hard" required when you pivot your off hold 10 degrees can be quite a learning experience..
- Want to scare the crap out of your climbers? Drive by around an arete to a jug that can't be seen from the launch position!
- Mega-slow balance drive by on a slab. You definitely see the "clock hand" move if this is set correctly.

Happy setting!

If you guys like this style of post (analyzing a single move) let me know - it feels kind of dense, but I write a lot of these just for posterity and I'd be happy to post them more often.


  1. Great post. Very useful and easy to follow along with. I vote for more.

  2. More please! I feel like (and please correct me if I'm wrong) there isn't enough of this type of analysis out there for those of us who are interested in learning more, but perhaps are less interested in (or don't have time for) taking professional courses :-)

  3. Really, the clinics / courses don't offer much in the way of specific movement forcing. They tend to be more focused toward efficient setting concepts, working goals under a strict deadline, competition elements (equity, consistency, accuracy) and communication techniques. Mostly you're not paying for them to tell you how to set - you're paying for the privilege of having them give you feedback on your setting. Still very worth it in my opinion.

  4. Cool Post :) Please more of them

  5. Love the blog and look forward to every single post that you put up. I am so eager to learn good routesetting for my personal home gym. thanks.

  6. Completely obsessed with these movement analysis posts! Love the blog. Anyone know where to find more?