As parents, when our kids get to an age where we start thinking about getting them involved in a sport, rock climbing is not usually something that comes to mind. Many of us still hold the belief that rock climbing is something best suited to the adventurous adrenaline junkie and far too dangerous and unsuitable for children.
However, statistically, rock climbing is one of the safest sports around when compared to traditional sports like rugby and hockey and has become increasingly popular in recent years. It has gone from being just a recreational activity enjoyed on the weekends, to an elite sport, and will now even be featured as an Olympic event at the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games.
Image Credit: climbing.co.za
This surge in popularity is mostly due the large number of rock climbing centres that have opened up, making it easily accessible for the whole family to go and give rock climbing a try.
Besides being a whole lot of fun, rock climbing has many physical, mental and social benefits for kids, some of which include:
Increases Strength, Endurance and Flexibility
Probably the most obvious benefit of rock climbing for kids is the physical aspect of the sport. Rock climbing is one of the best total body workouts available, as the motion of climbing works every part of the body.
The practise of rock climbing shall strengthen your child’s arms, legs and core as well as help them to develop strong, lean muscles. As your child progresses through each grade, they will be building up their overall strength, endurance and flexibility.
Teaches Hand, Feet and Eye Coordination
Climbing a wall teaches children great hand, feet and eye coordination. In order to successfully complete their climb, they have to look, plan and then coordinate their hands and feet to get to their chosen spot.
The coordination skills a child develops through rock climbing can also be transferred to many other aspects of life, including other sports. It is also a great way to reinforce the understanding of left and right.
Builds Confidence and Self-Esteem
Standing at the bottom of a rock climbing wall for the first time can be a little scary and overwhelming for a child. However, by getting outside their comfort zone and slowly step by step making their way up the climbing wall, they will overcome their fear and this in turn will boost their self-esteem, even if they don’t make it to the top in the beginning.
By overcoming their fear and achieving their goal on the climbing wall, they will have the confidence and belief in themselves to handle problems in other areas of their life.
Increases Problem Solving, Planning and Decision Making Abilities
With rock climbing there is more than one way to ‘conquer the mountain’. With many possible routes to choose from, your child will have to decide what is going to be their next best move.
At first they will probably make their decisions step by step, but as they become more experienced they will be able to visualise a route all the way to the top with just their first step. This is fantastic for building children’s planning and problem solving abilities.
Image Credit: philadelphiarockgym.com
With the fast pace of life these days and the constant pressure to achieve, even our kids can feel the stress on their little shoulders. With rock climbing, when you are facing a climbing wall you need to be fully focused, which requires you to wash away all outside influences and leave your head clear and ready to concentrate on the task at hand.
In a sense, rock climbing can become a form of meditation, where your child is completely in the present moment with no thoughts of any day-to-day problems or worries. After a great climbing session, your child will be re-energised and ready to face life with a clear head.
Develop Communication and Listening Skills
With rock climbing, the only person you are competing against is yourself as you progress through each grade. However, rock climbing can still be regarded as a team sport which requires great communication and listening skills.
Your child will always be climbing with one other person, with one person being the climber and the other being the belayer, which is the person at the bottom of the wall controlling the tightness of the rope for the climber.
It is essential for the climber and belayer to be able to communicate and listen to each other’s instructions in order to climb effectively.
Image Credit: brisbanekids.com.au
A great way to give your child a taste of rock climbing in a fun and safe environment is to enrol them in a school holiday rock climbing program. Australian Sports Camps offer 2 Day Rock Climbing Programs over the school holidays, coordinated and run by expert coaches.
Your child will learn a variety of different climbing moves and techniques to help them develop their own climbing abilities. They will also learn about the different disciplines of climbing and some of the other skills required such as knot-craft, equipment selection, strategy and route planning.
The programs are available for 6 to 16 year olds with all training structured to suit specific age levels, while utilising quality indoor facilities.