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April 24, 2016 by
Jay Medley
Think you need to sign your children up for a softball team to teach them about competition and teamwork? Not so. Non-traditional competitive teams can be a great alternative that will keep children interested, give them a great physical activity, and teach lots of life lessons.

Kids can learn a lot from competitive rock climbing: sportsmanship, teamwork, self-assurance, focus, and problem-solving, among many other skills. Surprised to see team-based skills on there? There’s a lot that you may not have considered about rock climbing.

USA Climbing offers youth climbing competitions, so many rock climbing gyms offer climbing teams for young athletes to practice and prepare. Depending on the gym, young athletes may be able to join the team whether they plan to climb competitively or not, making this a great option even for those who aren’t interested in the competition parts.

These clubs encourage teamwork and sportsmanship, as club members will cheer each other on, give tips to other climbers, and may do some gentle competitive drills against each other. Even though climbing looks like a solo sport, most forms of it require a partner to belay the climber. Through this, young climbers will learn the importance of clear communication. Though climbers may be on the wall on their own, there is a definite social and team aspect to climbing.

Climbing, whether it’s competitive or not, forces kids to focus on the task at hand. They have to look for the next hold and plan their route up the wall, which involves problem-solving skills. For example, bouldering routes are actually called problems.

Sometimes, it can look like there are no holds within reach, making it impossible to continue climbing up the wall, but with a little thought and experimentation, a climber may be able to take a new approach or leave safe holds to take a leap of faith to a farther-off hold. Some competitions only let climbers briefly look at the climbing route before they must climb it, so competitors have to be able to think on their feet and solve the problems as they climb.

Kids will develop determination to complete difficult walls or the task at hand. Competitions may be timed or may test skill level, so climbers have to be driven to finish these tricky tasks. They may learn to embrace competition, or they may be more driven by their own sense of accomplishment in finishing each route.

No matter what drives them, they will develop confidence in themselves and their abilities, and will learn to trust their instincts. This confidence can spill over into other aspects of their lives as well.

If you’re looking to get your kids into a sport that can teach them skills while they get some physical activity, think outside the box. On top of all of these life skills that climbing can give kids, it also provides a great, full-body workout and can help to develop muscles.

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