For the last 25 years, the main bike I have ridden has had toe clips on the pedals. The downside of clips is that when riding off-road you have to decide whether you might want to put one (or both) of your feet down, before the crisis happens. The upside is that the cyclist is more efficient, because they are pulling on the upstroke, as well as pushing on the downstroke.
As part of my preparations for my Lands End to John o’ Groats ride, I have made the switch from toe clips to clipless pedals, like the one in the picture below.
To use clipless pedals you need a special pair of shoes with metal cleats under the ball of the foot. The cleats lock into the pedals. The efficiency is even greater than with toe clips, but the commitment is also greater.
I am currently getting used to the cleats and clipless pedals, but I can definitely feel an improvement.