Rock climbing has grown in popularity as opportunities to try the sport in a controlled and convenient environment at indoor facilities have become more available. Many schools now also have rock climbing walls or traversing walls. Traversing, or moving horizontally across a wall, is an excellent way to become comfortable with climbing techniques, as well as build strength and endurance. Traversing is an activity that will benefit all ages and improve skill development for all levels of climbers.
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Artificial rocks, or climbing holds, can come in many shapes, from big bucket-like holds that are easy to grab onto, to much smaller holds, and even big "slopers" that are meant to palmed like a basketball. Become familiar with the different types of holds and how to best grasp them to get the most out of your movement.
Practice moving along the wall slowly. Focus on keeping the arms straight, placing most of the weight on the legs when resting and whenever not pulling for the next hold. This will help conserve energy.
When moving across the wall, keep the feet "quiet" by looking ahead at the next hold where the foot should go, and moving slowly and deliberately as you place the toe of your shoe on this next hold. Then shift your body over to this foot, placing most of your weight on the toe. This activity is easier to do wearing special rock climbing shoes, but sneakers are also acceptable.
Move along the wall in one direction, keeping the right hip turned in so that the leg is parallel to the wall for the majority of the movement. Next, move in the other direction and try with the left leg. This teaches balance and helps get the most out of the climber's body positioning without using as much arm strength.
As you move along the wall, count to three and have your hand over the next hold, but not grasping it until the three seconds are up. This delay activity will develop extra strength and train you to use your legs more.
A "problem" or boulder route is a set of holds that involve specific climbing techniques and/or moves. A group of climbers can create a "problem" by taking turns and adding on one hold at a time until an entire route is set. Then each climber can try to complete the "problem" as a whole.
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An instructor can place math problems or quiz questions along the wall. As the climber traverses, he must pause and complete the question while still on the wall before moving further along the route.
Develop relay races, having a child traverse to one side of the wall, then tagging a teammate who traverses to the other side. Another option is to use props such as small toys or figurines that the children have to retrieve and bring back to the other side. The instructor should decide in advance whether a fall from the wall means the child goes back to the beginning or if she can hop back on where she fell.
Many traversing walls have devices that can be installed to hold obstacles such as hoops or poles that the children can climb through or under. If a traversing wall does not have these devices, an instructor can hold these items against the wall as the child traverses.
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