The “soft catch”, also know as a dynamic belay, is considered an advanced technique. In theory, this reduces the impact of a climber when they fall a distance.
The first way to give a soft catch is by carefully letting out a very short amount of rope as the belayer engages the belay device, thus potentially reducing the amount of impact the lead climber experiences as they fall into the wall.
Secondly, some lead belayers might provide a bit of spring in their step at the time of the fall, to lighten or lessen the potential impact on the wall experienced by the falling lead climber. By stepping forward or jumping up a bit, this provides a softer catch.
A third way to give a softer catch, is to have a bit more slack out while belaying. This is considered more of an outdoor, sport climber’s belay (as seen in our sport climbing video series).
Remember, while soft catches might help lessen the impact of a lead fall… this can be a costly mistake if done incorrectly. As seen in this video, it is difficult to give the perfect soft catch.
We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!
Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.