Getting Your Child Started in Wrestling
If you’re interested in signing up your child for one of the world’s oldest and most-respected sport (wrestling!), knowing where to start and what to expect can be difficult. This guide will offer all the information you’ll need to know to get your child started in wrestling. It will also provide some helpful tips to ensure that he or she is getting the most out of the new athletic experience.
Watch a Match
Understandably, wrestling doesn’t appeal to all individuals at first glance. The idea of physically competing against another person can be a scary feeling if the sport isn’t completely understood. A great way to spark your child’s interest in wrestling is to take him to a dual meet or tournament. This will give him a chance to see the sport for himself and make him more comfortable with the idea of giving wrestling a shot.
If your child is especially outgoing, try to strike up a conversation with a wrestler or coach. (Check with a coach before you do this!) By establishing a relationship with someone involved in the sport, your child will be more likely to want to give wrestling a shot. He will also get a chance to ask any questions he may have.
If you aren’t able to make it to a match, another good way to spark your child’s interest is by checking out matches and techniques on internet video sites. Check out iSport’s Videos page for a compilation of the best wrestling videos on the net!
Find a Team
Depending on your child’s age, there are several different options for the types of teams you want to sign him up with. The most popular choice for parents with children under the age of 10 is to start them in a freestyle/Greco-Roman wrestling club. These clubs typically practice folkstyle, the same style of wrestling contested in high schools and colleges across the United States.
Wrestling clubs are typically not affiliated with any specific school or organization. Rather, they are private organizations geared towards teaching children the sport of wrestling. However, many clubs may practice at a school and have the same coaching staff as a school’s regular team — but the club will not be related to the school in any other way.
Essentially, you want to look for a team that focuses on fitness and technical development, rather than competition. This is especially important for younger wrestlers. For more information on what to look for when choosing a wrestling club, check out iSport’s guide, How to Choose a Wrestling Club.
Hot Tip: Bring a Buddy
One of the best ways to ensure that your child experiences wrestling in a positive manner is to encourage him to join a team or club with a friend. Your child will likely make friends with teammates, but bringing along a buddy who is just as interested in the sport will make practices more comfortable and fun. Bringing along a friend that is of a similar size and weight as your child is encouraged to allow them to practice together, but it is not required.
Once your child has decided that he’s interested in wrestling, the next step before you can send him off to practice is to get the necessary equipment. The items required for wrestling typically include:
- Wrestling shoes
- Loose fitting (not baggy) clothing, like a t-shirt and mesh gym shorts — no buttons, jewelry, zippers, or metal!
For more information on what other wrestling equipment your child will need, check out iSport’s guide, Wrestling Gear: What You Need to Compete.
After your wrestler has been training for a while, it will come time for him to compete. Although higher levels of wrestling become extremely competitive, children’s matches are often focused on gaining experience and having a good time — not the actual outcome of the match.
In fact, for wrestlers who are of ages six and under, there is typically no score kept at a match! Wrestlers are allotted a specific amount of time to just wrestle. At the end of the match, both wrestlers get their hands raised by the referee. After the competition is finished, all wrestlers in each division earn a gold medal for their efforts. This is extremely important in making your child’s competitive experience a positive one. So, don’t shy away from letting him step onto the mat and give it a shot. He may enjoy the competition!
The “Wrestling Bug”
Wrestling is a unique sport that some individuals naturally love and identify with. Many children become obsessed with wrestling from a very early age — this is what those involved in the wrestling community call “being bitten by the wrestling bug.” Some children simply take to the competitive nature of this hard-nosed sport — and once you get them on the mat, it’s tough to get them off!
With this being said, encouraging your child to start wrestling will have a much more positive impact than forcing them to try it. By giving your child the opportunity to both practice and compete without undue pressure, you will allow the “wrestling bug” to bite him, and he’ll enjoy and appreciate the sport much more!