The gist of the frog-leg is a move where the climber has to create body tension by compressing their legs towards each other. This means a few things off the bat. First, the hand holds need to be poor enough that the climber will fall if their feet aren't secure. If the climber can dyno or campus past the move, it's a no go. Second, The number of feet available needs to be limited; actually, it needs to be one - the pinch. Third, that foot option needs to have zero upward foothold potential. If the climber can use the top of the foot even as a poor smear, they will drop their other leg and make the move without using the frog.
Black denotes the start holds and route trend.
Generally the move works best when the climber is traversing over the frog pinch footholds, because it's hard to generate upward momentum when your legs are both pinching. Since that upward motion would make the move a lot more upper-body dependent, it could ruin the equitability of the sequence. I have found the easiest way to set the Frog Pinch is by having the climber do a cross move from a wide open position. We're going to have them start on the big pinch and a small right hand crimp by hand foot matching their left heel on the pinch from the ground. This sets the climber up for the frog by having half of the body position implied by the time they get to the move.
After they pull on, they'll bump their left hand from the big pinch to the first left hand sloper (Hold 2.) At this point they are creating compression with the three holds.
The opening move, to the first sloper.
Moving their left hand to Hold 3 is not an option because of distance, so the climber knows they need to move their right hand. The logical option is to create compression to replace the right hand's tension by using their right leg - for some climbers this will mean automatically adopting the frog position.
Creating compression with the feet - the Frog Pinch.
Then the climber can cross through to hold 3. Optionally, an extra (very poor) hold can be added above hold 1 to help this body position transition.
Crossing over - not too much upward motion, mostly moving laterally.
The route can go lots of directions afterward, provided none of the holds used in later sequences are accessible from the opening moves.
Basically, we're talking about four holds. One big start pinch, one small start crimp, and two non-matchable directional slopers / sloper pinches.
The right hand starting hold, doesn't matter much, as long as it's poor enough to prevent moves from being skipped. Placing it facing straight up will make the opening move easiest; placing it horizontal to the right will make it quite hard. Straight down or left will make the move (almost) impossible.
Holds 2 and 3 should be semi directionals so they can be easily tweaked to make the move feel more natural. The fastest way to make the move harder is to make the holds face outwards more, making the climber more reliant on compression and less on being able to actually pull down against gravity. I've found the most natural way to set the move is to have Hold 2 be basically straight down or just a bit left (since the climber will be using it the most.) The optional bump hold should face gently right, so the climber will struggle to bump their left hand from the start hold to hold 3, making the intended sequence more obvious. Hold 3 can be oriented depending on your next sequence, but I try to have it face slightly rightward with a decent thumb catch and keep the route trending left. This also makes it harder to skip moves.
The frog-leg foothold is going to be the centerpiece of the route. I'll emphasize again that this pinch can't be smearable! The three holds I've set this move on are the E-Grips Bubble Wrap Pinch, the Tufapinch and the Atomik Granite Pinch. The granite pinch was the most smearable, but also the most comfortable heel hook for the start. The Tufapinch is quite hard on anything steeper than about 20 degrees. There are several other holds that could theoretically be used for this purpose.
Troubleshooting hold choices:
- Thumb catches can generate a lot more compression than you might think. Consider using holds with no or poor thumb catches.
- If the climber can't pull off the ground, try moving your centerpiece pinch hold down (or in) a bit, or making your right hand starting hold better by rotation or hold change.
- If the climber can smear on top of the centerpiece hold, either it's too low or too good, hold 2 and 3 are too good, or your terrain isn't steep enough.
- If the frog-leg is uncomfortable, watch someone climb it and try to rotate the frog pinch so it points directly at their ideal center of gravity during the move. Just rotate it for fun if nothing else - a five degree shift makes the move completely different. Experiment. Rotating the pinch hold has been the final step of tweaking the move every single time I've set it.
This move works on just about any terrain, but it's easiest to keep the climber from smearing on top of the pinch hold on a wall at least 20 degrees overhanging. Slabs and vertical faces it's just too easy for the climber to forego compression in favor of balance. On a steep enough wall, the hold has to better than the ones I outlined - Lapis volumes are a fun alternative, if you have them; although the move at that point is less like a frog pinch and more like stock gymnastic roof climbing. In fact, I think doing the move on a gently overhanging wall where it feels new and foreign is what makes the move so interesting to set and climb.
Possibly the best place to set this move is on a staggered overhang, if you have one near the ground. In this scenario you can move the entire setup up and down until you find the appropriate average angle to make the move "go." I didn't figure this technique out until I had set the move several times - it's much easier on this type of terrain, so it's a good place to start.