Supporting Our Future Athletes
This year we watched sport climbing debut as an Olympic sport during the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. The timing off the games was just what we needed as everyone living in Victoria came to terms with the state slipping back into a Covid-19 lockdown. The climbing community tuned into their TV screens as we all stayed home and watched some of our favourite climbers from across the globe battle it out to take the medal winning glory. The show the climbers put on grew with intensity as we watched a large number of the athletes produce new personal bests, world records and set the first ever sport climbing olympic records. We dare say that a number of our youth climbers who were watching have been inspired by the show that the athletes put on and have already been thinking – “Could I do that when I am older?”.
Our answer is quite possibly, yes!
The average age of climber at the olympic games was 25 with the youngest (including Australia’s own Oceana Mckenzie) being only just 18 years old. (Wow!) This means that the average climber who might attend Paris 2024 could likely be 22 years old now and the youngest climbers could currently be about 15 years old. If Los Angeles chooses to host sport climbing in 2028 the climbers will now likely be between the age of 10 and 18 years old and if Brisbane (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!) hosts sport climbing at the games in 2032 the climbers could currently be between the age of 7 and 14. With our future athlete hopefuls all likely being between the age of 7 and 22 it is totally plausible that your young climbing hopeful could be one of the next great climber athletes.
Many people have asked us over the recent months what their children can be doing at home to maintain their climbing skills whilst in lockdown and the good news is that whilst your children are still developing there is lots that we can do to help them without having access to the climbing wall. Below we will talk about the importance of Fundamental Movement Skills and Long Term Athlete Development to help you provide your young athletes with the best possible progression opportunities.
Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS)
These skills are the “building blocks” for more complex and specialised skills that kids will need throughout their lives to competently participate in different games, sports and recreational activities. By focussing on key FMS skills that are relevant to climbing you can create a stronger base from which your child can develop as they grow and improve.
FMS can be broken down into 3 main categories:
Balance skills and Locomotor skills in particular are very important to the sport of climbing. An example of a 5-year-old climbing up a cargo net at the park is an example of practicing climbing locomotor skills. Here are a few examples of simple, fun games that can be used for developing FMS that can relate to sport climbing -
A Hacky Sack is a favourite item for keeping entertained whilst on climbing trips. Set a daily challenge of how many times you can keep the hacky sack up in the air without catching or dropping it. It can be done individually or part of a group. Good for ball skills, coordination, balance and response time/cognitive planning.
Basketball is a great sport for developing a range of different arm and leg movements that are useful to climbers when making dynamic climbing movements. E.g., moving arms from a ball bounce to a shoot position or side stepping a defender.
Playgrounds / Parkour
Many climbers become interested in other urban activities such as parkour, assault courses, ninja warrior courses and there is good reason for this! Free urban play allows for lots of opportunities to develop balance and locomotor skills. Next time you are in the park try watching each movement your child makes and work out which FMS they are using each time they do something different.
Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD)
The primary goal of LTAD is to provide a framework to ensure that training, competition and recovery schedules are appropriate for an athlete at each specific stage of their growth and development. LTAD seeks to emphasise the key components of physical literacy that are the foundation for both a healthy and active lifestyle, and a career in competitive sport. The LTAD model is broken down into 8 different phases based on the chronological age of the athlete -
|Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, Speed||Basic Introduction to Climbing||Exploring Challenges||Keep it Fun!||Family Plays a Key Role|
|Mobility, Flexibility||Basic Route Reading||Positive Reinforcement & Encouragement. Concept of Overcoming Challenges||Simple Rules and Ethics. Keep it Simple & Fun!||Define Being a Good Team Mate|
Learn to Train
|Body Weight Strength Training||Refine Climbing Skills and Teach Practical Skills||Perseverance, Confidence, Mental Preparation||Define Basic Competition Principles. Simulated Competition||Define Being a Good Team Mate|
Train to Train
|Muscular Endurance, Upper Body Strength, Core Stability||Individual Approach to Identify Strengths & Weaknesses, Lead & Speed Climbing||Goal Setting, Relaxation Patience and Self Control, Focus||Different Competition Tactics, Pacing, Rest & Recovery||Mindfulness and Self Awareness Concepts|
Train to Compete
|Forearm and Finger Strength, Tapering, Year Round Training Methodology||Climbing Skills under Competitive Conditions and High Intensity||Pre-Competition Preparation, Anxiety Control||Event Specific Preparation, Aggressive VS Passive Strategies, Adaptability||Identify Outside Influences, Provide Tools to Help Manage Changing Relationships|
Learning to Win
|Strength, Power||Develop Ability to Improve with Skills||Independent Decision Making, Evaluating Advice, Coping Strategies, Promote the Will to Win||Effective Competition Strategies, Adapt Strategies to Situation||Dealing With Career/Sport, Transition from Competitive Athlete to Coach or Official|
Winning for a Living
|Consistency, Visual Acuity||Visualise Climbing Techniques Based on Terrain, Physics, Momentum.||Confidence in Performance||Event Format Strategies Using Established Processes||Importance of Training With Other Competitors|
Active for Life
|Develop Skills Appropriate to Age and Stage of Life||Develop Skills Based on Age and Ability||Aspects of Climbing that Support Overcoming Challenges Throughout||Based on Personal Goals and Level of Involvement in the Sport||Recreational Involvement. Being Part of the Climbing Community|