DO IT DAILY FOR LIFE!
One of the main issue in physical education today, is finding activities that students will want to "do daily for life." To find activities as such, we often need to think outside of the regular games and sports that we usually teach to find something that students can connect with both physically and mentally.
Rock climbing can be an activity that students can do daily for life. It is activity that challenges students both physically and mentally. In Alberta, rock climbing can fall under many outcomes, here are a few:
A4,5,6–2 consistently and confidently perform locomotor skills and combination of skills, by using elements of body and space awareness, effort and relationships to a variety of stimuli to improve personal performance
A2,3,4,5,6–7 select, perform and refine basic skills in a variety of environments and using various equipment
D4,5,6–7 demonstrate different ways to achieve an activity goal that is personally challenging
Rock climbing can be taught as an introduction where students are just given a taste, or students can do intensive classes that teach them all about the sport and the mechanics behind climbing.
The great thing about climbing is that there are many different types that students can pick and stick with.
Many climbers like bouldering because it allows them to really push themselves for a few minutes on the wall and hop off easily. Climbers who are also afraid of heights find this type comforting because you are only a few feet off the ground. There are also opportunities for creativity. Climbers can easily create their own routes on the wall and share them with fellow climbers to work though and modify the routes.
There are two main types of top-roping: Speed climbing, and Difficulty climbing. Both present different challenges but climbers tend to prefer difficulty climbing or route climbing because it challenges their body and mind. Climbers are encouraged to climb a route (usually shown with a colour of tape below the rock) which is challenging for them. The route is graded by difficulty and as a climber gets better they can start to climb more technical and harder routes.
Lead climbing is very similar to top-roping as in many climbers climb routes, but this type takes more practice and strength because climbers are clipping themselves in to pre-hung draws that are in the rock or on the wall.
There are two different strains of climbing. You can train to compete, or for the fun of it. Many gyms offer both options and students improve and succeed with both. With competitive climbing, students are given the opportunity to try out different gyms and routes to try to qualify for regionals, nationals, and worlds. Many people from the Edmonton and Calgary region have went to U-19 worlds. Students who pick the non-competitive route can travel the world after proper training and leisurely climb wherever they so choose. Climbing if introduced and if catered to students needs, can be a lifestyle choice that students will stick with till old age.
There is always the extension that climbing can be taken outdoors. Climbing can be seen as a positive change in a student's life as it is not only a sport, it is a lifestyle.
WHAT THE CLIMBERS SAY
I like climbing because it's a nice thing to know how to do. Lots of people have lots of skills but in climbing you learn a lot of different things like tying knots, good footwork, exercising and much more. I stayed not only because of the things that you learn but because it's fun. It's not just something you do to burn time it's something enjoyable. I love climbing and am really happy that I joined.
I like to rock climb because it's a challenge and you can always learn something new. When you fall off the wall it makes you want to try again and again as many times as you want so you can get better and better.
Why climbing has attracted me so much? Well the answer is simple. Not only am I being challenged physically but also mentally. Each movement I make across the wall brings a new sense of empowerment and strength. I can truly feel my body and what it's capable of as I catch myself from falling or I nail a move perfectly. It's satisfying to be at one with my body. I am challenged to overcome my fears, the fear of falling or not being able I complete a sequence of moves. Yet without that fear that I must overcome there would be no reward. And climbing itself is the greatest of rewards.
I love climbing because not only does it feel like a very natural form of exercise for me (using just my own body weight, and moving in a way that seems instinctual -- humans have been climbing things since there were things to climb, I'm sure) but that together with the mental puzzle that climbs create is what makes it such a unique sport to me. I can't think of another sport that I have engaged in, in which the ongoing question is, "In what way do I move my body to get through this?" To me the mental component of climbing has played the largest part of all in any form of physical activity that I have done. Often my brain feels as exercised as my body after a climb.
Climbing is not simply a sport, it is a lifestyle. From the foundations of climbing - based in the outdoors - one may see that there is a unique connection between a climber and nature; not only does climbing allow, and push, people to get into the outdoors, I believe that it can serve as a great stress reliever. Due to the focus required to perform at a high level in climbing, all else seems to melt away while climbing a difficult route and this allows the mind to revel in the experience at hand, rather than worry about the goings on of everyday life as one might be inclined to do. Overall, I believe that climbing has shaped my life in a way that has been much more than a sport and I know that my passion for climbing will continue until the time at which I can no longer physically climb. I am blessed to have been introduced to this lifestyle and the community of support that envelopes it, and for that I will be forever grateful.
I started climbing when I was in junior high, when I had no sport or motivation to be active in my life. Finding an individual pursuit where I could progress at my own pace was exactly what I needed. Now I climb to be outside, interacting with our environment in a unique way, and to surround myself with the friendliest and encouraging community out there.
WHAT PARENTS SAY
We picked rock climbing for our kids to try because it was a sport that Jorge had done in his twenties and he really liked it. He is hoping that it is an activity that we call all do together as a family someday. The thing we like best about rock climbing is that it is a sport with a good balance between technical knowledge and physical strength. It presents mental challenges as well as physical. We also like that the children will learn to do something risky in a safe way. Also, there is the opportunity to be outdoors, in nature, in this sport, and you could travel the world and see a lot of amazing sites and vistas while rock climbing. There are so many adventures that lie ahead. Rock climbing seems to suit people who prefer individual sport as opposed to team sport.
-Jorge and Amy
WHAT COACHES AND INSTRUCTORS SAY
As a coach you teach the kids and help your students to be able to strive to do better all the time as they continue to challenge themselves. You get to teach and explain why we do exercises a certain way and to make sure they do them correctly to not injure themselves (as kids and teens it's a lot easier to over do things to the body when their bodies are not fully developed). Competitively you help with overcoming fears and encouraging them to do great. Then there is a huge mental factor that you try to help with as well, like previewing (pre planning) and trying to calm nerves.
I believe that one of the reasons that I stayed with climbing for so long is because of my very competitive nature. There is something very appealing about always climbing at your best and trying to out do yourself, trying to climb harder than you ever have before. Not only climbing harder than yourself but also climbing harder than everyone else around you. There is a feeling of success when I realized that I had become stronger than I ever was and the reason that I was there was due to my own determination and effort.
As for coaching I believe that we tend to find ourselves in the children we coach. I recognize the drive and motivation in some of the students that I had when I was there age. I enjoy giving them the push that I once had from some of my coaches. There is a large variety of reason why young children stay with climbing. Not only the drive to be the best, or that euphoric feeling of reaching the top of the wall for the first time, but also because climbing is immensely amusing. Whether the kids want to take their climbing to the next level and compete or simply continue climbing recreationally, they always seem to have a smile on their face.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Over the past 5 years I have seen many climbers push their limits both physically and mentally. My students have grown and progressed immensely. I have developed positive relationships with parents and family members of my climbers. I have developed personal training plans for some my competitive students working on certain aspects of technique and personal goals. Students work individually or with a team to solve problems on the wall which caters to students who either work better individually or as a team. Rock climbing can be an alternative environment and individual activity when you are on the wall, when you are planning your route and your technical strategy you often work with your team to collaborate for success. There are many personal gains to climbing and coming from a competitive dance background, I found climbing a refreshing environment as everyone was encouraging and helpful. I am very happy that climbing is in my life and I know it is creating a positive lifestyle choice.
DOING IT DAILY
Climbing is not the only sport that should be introduced to students, but it is a good example of a sport that people can fall in love with. I encourage teachers to find sports and activities throughout the year that all students can be engaged in and could potentially take up to do daily for life. This could a game, an individual activity, an alternative environment, dance or gymnastics. The best way to find activities that students will stick with is to expose them to as many activities as possible and if a teacher can get every student to find one activity they like they have done their job.