Home | News and Events | YCS R1: STRONGHOLD

A Study to Show the Effects of Skittles in a Competitive Bouldering Environment.


This year’s YCS was the first competitive climbing event I’d ever attended. As I mainly coach the junior academy, I spent most of my time with categories D and E. The following report outlines the procedures taken in order to obtain objectivity and our attempts to enhance the performance of the athletes through the use of positive reinforcement but more importantly bribery. It is important to note various ethical guidelines were violated during the course of this study. Informed consent was not always obtained by the parents/ legal guardians. Psychological distress was experienced by many as a side effect post sugar rush.


Participants consisted of Reading Climbing Centre’s Academy members (just a handful pictured below)


Academy members were offered skittles at any point during the event a coach saw fit as a reward. Rewards were given for achievements such as topping a problem, trying really hard, just standing there and coming to say hi.


Athletes seemed to respond effectively to sugar specific positive reinforcement.
Some older members of the participant pool seemed to express a preference for healthy food?! Examples of which involve cucumber carrots and hummus…
All effects observed though evident, were temporary.
As this was a correlational study, we can’t actually comment on cause and effect.
Subsequent evidence gathered from the following rounds of YCS seems to suggest the athletes may in fact just be strong climbers.

Discussion and Conclusion

It was so cool to see all the Reading Climbing Centre’s Academy members crushing it at Stronghold. Neither coaches nor parents were allowed on the matting during the competition and due to the layout, some of the blocs had limited visibility. I think I speak for all the coaches when I say we were so proud to see some of the older members of the academy, who arrived early, walking around with the younger ones and helping them out whilst waiting for their own category to start. What a great way to be introduced tocompetitive climbing. I personally was so impressed to see all the faces I know from our centre in a new setting and proving, as per usual, how strong and skilled they all are in the sport we all love. All in all, a really good day and a great start to the next few rounds of YCS.

Big thank you Stronghold and the BMC for organising the event.

Author: Milly Poulter; RCC Coach (pictured left in the above)