Rock climbing has exploded in popularity in recent years, what with the evolution of indoor bouldering gyms and its more recent debut in the Olympics, people across the globe have been clamouring to test themselves against the wall. And it’s not just adults that have scrambled to the walls, with numerous benefits in climbing for kids, children of all ages have been scaling new heights in the sport.
Its meteoric rise has created huge advancements in the sport, driven by top athletes who began climbing at increasingly younger ages. Take Ashima Shiraishi for example, she started climbing at the age of 6 and went on to climb V15 at the age of 15, the youngest person and first woman to ever climb this grade.
It’s inspiring stories like this that made us want to open The Climbing Experience in the first place. That, and the fact that climbing has a huge number of benefits for kids, which we’ll explore in this article.
So, whether or not you’d like your child to be a contender in the next Olympics or if you’d just like them to be happy and healthy, this article is for you.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the main benefits of climbing for kids!
It Trains Strength & Flexibility
Rock climbing is a low-impact exercise which trains almost every major muscle group in the body. This makes it a fantastic whole-body workout for children and the perfect substitute to lifting weights in the gym.
You use your arm and leg muscles to lift yourself up the wall while employing your abs to stabilise and balance yourself.
No muscle group will be left unattended after a good session in the bouldering gym – trust us on this!
Aside from training strength, you’ll often find you put your body in strange and irregular positions when climbing. This is amazing for maintaining and building flexibility, especially for those bendy young ones.
What’s more, retaining child-like flexibility well into adulthood has been proven to be an indicator of longer lifespans as it increases circulation and blood flow around the body in the long-term.
In sum, there’s a whole host of physical benefits to climbing which can be maximized by starting when young!
It Exercises Problem Solving Skills
Climbing is just as mentally challenging as it is physically.
Whilst all routes in the gym are colour coordinated so you simply follow the holds of a particular colour all the way to the top, there’s still a huge range of methods or paths that can be used to reach the top of the wall.
Initially, many people find they are overwhelmed by this.
However, as they progress, their ability to mentally map a route from the ground, to observe the nuances of technique and learn how the different methods actually make the moves easier.
All this contributes to the development of working memory, visualisation skills and creative problem solving, which have unlimited transferability to everyday life.
It Strengthens Teamwork Skills
Being able to work as a team is fundamental to success in today’s working world, and climbing is a fantastic way to develop these skills.
As climbing requires the visual analysis of a given route in order to determine the best possible path to reach the top, it is often very helpful to carry out this analysis in pairs or groups.
The dynamic created is a very interesting one.
You attempt to convey your ideas about the proper posture, angle, and momentum required at each hold to your partners, exhibiting a different kind of teamwork experienced in school environments.
When climbing longer roped routes or climbing outside, precise and clear communication between climbers and belayers is of the utmost importance to maintain an adequate level of safety for all involved.
Carrying out this helpful form of communication will teach your young ones to describe the ideas they have to their partners, communicate clearly, listen to others, and reach a conclusion together based on the ideas they’ve put forward.
That sounds like solid teamwork to us – wouldn’t you agree?
It Builds Confidence
Climbing is a sport where you can discuss ideas about how to complete a route with your climbing partner all day long, but once you begin a route it’s all on you to get to the top.
This teaches you to think for yourself in a potentially stressful situation – a few meters above the ground without a rope. If handled well, you’ll remain calm and collected while you make a move. The more you climb, the easier this becomes, and top climbers are often highly resilient and tenacious people.
As a result, it teaches you to learn your limits and have confidence in your ability to do, or not do, a certain move.
Self-reliance and accountability play a huge role in this, as there’s no-one to pass you a ball or score a goal for you, it all comes down to you to reach the top.
Whatever the case, nothing quite boosts confidence and self-esteem like overcoming fears or powering through a challenging situation – or climb.
So, if your child struggles with confidence and self-belief, then getting them into the climbing gym could be the boost they need to put those worries to bed.
It Practices Mindfulness & Relieves Stress
As mental health becomes a hotter topic and a deeper issue within society, finding ways to nurture our minds and calm the inner storm is of the utmost importance – especially for our little ones.
If your child struggles with stress and anxiety, providing them with an intense distraction like a good climbing session could be the perfect way of calming their minds and distracting them from their worries.
When we are young, we all too often see our self-esteem damaged by seemingly small or insignificant interactions with friends and classmates. It can be all too easy to develop a negative way of thinking about ourselves and to let our self-confidence take a hit as a result.
Climbing allows us to escape from the usual reality of our lives and enter into a new world, one where no-one is advantaged or disadvantaged by social standings or recent happenings in the classroom.
A solid bouldering session requires a great deal of concentration and attention, thereby making it a fantastic form of mindfulness practice as you block out any other thoughts and focus solely on the task at hand.
Sometimes this is all that is needed to leave a child feeling refreshed by a new sense of success, peacefulness and achievement.
We’d love to be the ones to help your child develop a passion that’ll keep on giving, why not give it a try?
There are an endless number of benefits that any child could experience from rock climbing.
Perhaps the most crucial benefits of climbing for kids are the independence, self-reliance and confidence boost they’ll experience from taking charge of their lives and overcoming the challenge, all by themselves.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make this happen for your child, feel free to contact us , check out our kids climbing courses and classes on our website or head to the NIBAS site to find out more about the nationally recognised kids climbing schemes we offer here at The Climbing Experience.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you soon!
– Ashima Shirashi, Horizon V15