Rock climbing offers kids amazing opportunities for individual achievement, and it’s exciting to master new maneuvers and improve on speed, agility and fundamental climbing moves. It’s a great way for kids to challenge themselves and overcome fears in a safe, supervised environment. For youngsters who aren’t interested in team sports, rock climbing offers a more individual athletic pursuit that can also be done as a group. Because climbing often involves a climber and a belayer, it’s also a social sport.
Mental and Physical Skills
Hanging onto tiny toe holds and moving upward quickly develops strength and agility. Rock climbing isn’t just a physical challenge; it also requires a lot of mental exercise, planning and anticipating each move to get to the top. It’s good to look up and scope out a route ahead of time so you can get in position to make the right moves.
Always climb safely and be sure your kids know the basic safety and courtesy rules at the rock gym. Climbers should always make sure knots are tied properly, their harness is buckled and double-backed and the rope is securely strung through the connection points of the harness. The belayer needs to make sure the harness is buckled and double-backed, the carabiner is locked and the rope is exiting the belay device tail-side down.
Look Out Below
When you take your kids climbing, it can be helpful to do a bit of coaching from below. You can suggest where to put hands or feet next, unless you youngster prefers to do it all on his own. It’s also a good idea to tell your kids to give you a heads-up if they’re starting to fall by calling out “falling” as a warning to the belayer.
Powers of Observation
Rock gyms are full of all levels of climber, and a great way for kids to improve their own technique is by watching others and making mental notes. By observing and practicing new climbing techniques, youngsters develop the muscle memory that pushes skills to a new level. Also, the more you climb, the better your balance, speed and forearm strength become.
Generally, the legs are stronger than the arms, so conserving forearm strength is important in climbing. Climbers should try to keep weight carried mostly by the legs, using arms for balance and shifting weight. Moves requiring a lot of upper body movement should be accomplished as quickly as possible to conserve arm strength.