Kids rock climbing is becoming more and more popular! And one of the greatest things a parent can give their child is to help them find a sport that they can love for life. Climbing can absolutely be the sport that turns into a life long love. However, kids rock climbing comes with 3 concerns that parents should be aware of.

  • Nutrition
  • Importance of training opposing muscles
  • Growth Mindset

Climbing can make your child so strong and feel amazing about themselves! Kids rock climbing is good not only for their physical health but for their mind as well! Your child will be so proud to feel strong in their own bodies!

Kids Rock Climbing and Nutrition

Young climber need a balanced diet with healthy carbohydrates, fats, and plenty of protein to support muscle development and recovery. I am sure you already make sure that your young athlete has good diet options and makes good diet choices! This nutrition focus is different. Today, it is not uncommon for young competitive climbers to develop disordered eating.

Many young professional rock climbers have spoken out:

As young rock climbers start to get older and better the sport starts to get competitive, as any sport does. As you can read in the stories of these athletes who each battled with disordered eating, in their adolescents, they compared themselves to the other kids. How hard did they climb? How thin were they? What did they eat? What didn’t they eat?

Today, thanks to the above athletes and documentaries like “Light,” there is more awareness about the prevalence of disordered eating in youth and adult competitive climbers.

A special note on our young male climbers. As the documentary “Light” indicates, disordered eating is as prevalent in young men as it is in young women. We just don’t look for it in young men, as it is seen as a medical issue more common girls. Young men are also less likely to talk about it.

What you can do

You can always ask your child’s coach if he or she ever has concerns about the kids’ nutrition. In the situation where a young climber on a team did indeed need help, a coach would be the second to know. The first to know would be the young climber’s own peers and teammates. Consequently, it is important that teens themselves are educated on the topic.

Another way to help is through the vocabulary we use. Climbers will often say that they feel “light” or “heavy” to indicate a good or bad climbing sesh. For the ears of listening kiddos, it is better to say that they feel “strong” or “a little weak.” Climbers always have days where we climb great and days where we climb not so great. It is just part of the sport.

Climbing can be the most enriching experience for your child!

Kids Rock Climbing and Training Opposite Muscles

You already know that rock climbing will make your child feel so strong, and that is because they are getting strong. There is no better thing to do with our bodies than to move and become strong! Climbing can be like golf, tennis, or running because the movements of climbing, as the movements of golf, tennis, and running, are repetitive.

When you train movements that are repetitive, the muscles being active in those movements become very strong. But, what about the other muscles?

In short, nothing. Nothing happens to those other muscles. And that is why they must be trained. In climbing, when opposite muscles are not trained to gain strength like the climbing muscles are gaining strength, it is just a matter of time before injury happens.

Eric Horst is a household name in climbing, and has a comprehensive view of considerations for young climbers here. I will summarize some cautionary key points in the table below. In the article he also discusses climbing specific training, training to develop climbing muscles.

What to trainWhy
Push-ups, overhead shoulder press, and dipsBecause climbing is all about pulling with back muscles! So, pushing muscles must be trained for balance.
FlexibilityGrowing bones AND growing muscles is more likely to lead to muscle tightness
This table shows training concerns for youth climbers.

Kids Rock Climbing and Growth Mindset

Growth mindset might be a phrase you have heard your child’s teacher talk about. Growth mindset is very popular in education right now. Believe me, I know, I teach high school English.

Growth mindset is all about not being fixated on what you can’t do. It is about reframing your thinking to focus on growth. Instead of saying “I can’t do that” you say, “I can’t do that yet.” Or, instead of saying, “I suck at this!” you say, “This is a really hard move for me.”

A positive mindset geared toward learning is key in climbing.

This is such a necessary mindset in climbing because of how challenging climbing is. In climbing we progress, gain skills, and we build up expectations of ourselves. However, every once and while we get thrown a stopper move or we fail at something we thought we would succeed at.

Climbing can be a sport filled with negativity frustration if we don’t take care to see every challenging moment as a moment for growth. The greatest climbers become that way because they look for areas of growth. They see their weaknesses, and instead of getting frustrated, they get to work!

How to find a gym for children

If you are looking to get your children into rock climbing, it is as simple as looking for a gym that has kids classes. Shop around a bit, there are some great climbing facilities out there geared towards kids as much as they are geared towards serious climbers, and there are also some not-so great ones! By far my personal favorite, for any Philly/Delaware locals, is Reach.

You are an amazing parent

I know this just because you have exposed your child to rock climbing. Not every parent out there will do this. Rock climbing is such a wonderful sport that your child might practice and love for their whole life. Rock climbing can get them outside, traveling to new places, and meeting the most wonderful people.

I hope that you love every moment watching them grow in self confidence, strength, and maturity as they progress as a climber.

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