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March 21, 2016 by
Jay Medley
Not all physical activities are created equal, especially when it comes to the educational aspect for children. Kids learn about the world from everything they do, including sports. With all of the negative attention surrounding contact team sports, many parents are looking for non-contact activities for kids that still give lessons on teamwork and strategy while building confidence and focus.

Though rock climbing seems like a solitary sport, there is a lot of communication, cooperation, and teamwork involved. Each climber is partnered with a belayer who holds their rope as they climb, picking up the slack so they won’t fall if they slip off of the wall.

A safe climb requires a lot of communication between the climber and the belayer to note when an ascent or descent is starting. If a child is over 14 years old, they may be able to train to belay others, furthering the teamwork and responsibility aspects of the sport. Many times, waiting climbers on the ground will shout encouragement and advice to climbers on the wall, teaching teamwork and sportsmanship.

Some people don’t want to try rock climbing because they’re afraid of heights

but what better way to conquer the fear? Rock climbing can really distract you from how high you are because you are constantly looking at the wall, most often upward rather than downward. You focus on the holds, not on the distance from the ground.

Sometimes, if you get really caught up in the task, you may truly look down at the ground until you reach the top, and by then, the would-be scariest parts are behind you, all that’s left is to safely be lowered down the wall. Also, those harnesses and ropes are very secure, and the initial safety lesson and gym staff will assure anyone that all of their knots and the harness will hold their weight.

Kids can conquer their fears without even realizing it if they’ll just give it a try. It’s important to keep in mind that if a child is truly terrified of heights, they shouldn’t be pushed to do the activity. But, if you can conquer a fear, you must be able to conquer other difficult things!

Rock climbing can build confidence and a sense of accomplishment. In a study of children with special needs, the children rated their level of self-efficacy higher after completing six weeks of rock climbing sessions.

Some children seem like their brains are moving at a mile per minute, but rock climbing requires focus.

Climbers have to learn to think about where each part of their body is and where they will have to move it. Bouldering routes (the low walls that are climbed without ropes, just crash pads below) are often called “problems.” Just like with math problems, rock climbing problems, whether on a boulder or a top rope wall, require thought, strategy, and focus to complete.

Problem solving comes into play when climbers have to plan for the next hold they’ll grab, thinking about how they’ll have to push up on one leg or move to a different leg hold before they can reach a higher hold with their hand.

Those who are waiting on the ground get to see the wall from a different perspective and may try to problem solve to help the climber, giving them advice on the next hold to grab.

When looking for a fun activity that doubles as an educational experience, rock climbing rises above other sports.

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