How Adults Can Get Involved in Wrestling
One of the greatest things about wrestling is that anyone can do it, no matter your weight, body type, or even age. If you’re interested in learning how to wrestle, but think you may be too old to do so, think again! This guide will explain how to get involved in the sport. Likewise, this guide will also benefit former wrestlers who are looking to get back on the mat.
Train at Your Own Pace
The first step to getting started is finding a place to train. Depending on your age, level of experience, and what shape you are in physically, some places may be better suited for you to train at than others. You want to find a club or gym that fits your needs and allows you to train at the right pace. Everything you’ll need to know when looking for a place to train is detailed in the sections below.
New to Wrestling
If you are new to the sport, or are concerned about your level of fitness, the best way for you to learn the basics is by joining a club/team, or by taking classes geared towards beginners. Some freestyle and Greco-Roman clubs offer beginners’ classes for adults.
Another option is to join a mixed martial arts gym or academy; most places that train mixed martial arts also provide adult wrestling classes. This is a good option if you are looking to learn wrestling at a slower pace with a group of individuals who share your level of experience.
If you are comfortable with the idea of training around high school wrestlers, finding a local club for that age group could also be a good place to start. Although you should be able to train at your own pace, do understand that the intensity of these practices may be a little overwhelming for someone brand-new to the sport. But if you are willing to challenge yourself, this could be a great option.
Check out iSport’s Wrestling Teams and MMA Gyms listings to find a place to train in your area.
Hot Tip: Train with a Buddy
Whether you are new to wrestling or making your comeback after some downtime, training is always more fun when you bring a friend. Doing so will allow you to train at the right pace, and it will make your practice experience more enjoyable.
Returning to the Mat
If you are a former wrestler, you will have a lot of options on how and where you choose to start up again. The only real factors are what shape you are in and what goals you have.
If you need to start off at a slower pace, or are looking to get re-involved with the sport in a more relaxed fashion, volunteering with a local high school team is a good option. You will be able to get back on the mat, and improve your conditioning and skills gradually.
Finding a club that offers training sessions for wrestlers at the veteran level is another option if you need to work yourself back into shape. Veteran wrestling clubs typically provide former wrestlers, regardless of their skill levels or physical abilities, the opportunity to train with one another. Veterans’ clubs are also great if you wish to improve your techniques to start competing again.
There are also many opportunities for former wrestlers to compete collegiately. The only factor would be eligibility. In most cases, you will need to be enrolled as a full-time student to be considered academically eligible. Furthermore, if you are looking to compete at a school that is governed by the NCAA, you must have athletic eligibility. That means that you may not have competed in more than four years of collegiate sports (NCAA rules allow only four years of athletic eligibility, so you cannot have exhausted them if you want to compete collegiately).
Junior and community college are also good places to get back into it. At these institutions, the eligibility requirements are typically not as strict, however, each year you wrestle at this level does count towards your NCAA eligibility. Also, for the most part, wrestling is not as competitive at this level. This is a great option if you still feel your competitive fire burning, but do not think you will be able to compete at the Division I level. (Division I is the most competitive, and junior college the least.)
Amazingly True Story
At a glance, Baldwin Wallace College wrestler, Terence Haynes, looks like any other heavyweight. But the difference between him and the rest of his competition is that he started competing at the collegiate level at the age of 45… and weighing in over 400 lbs. In less than a year, Haynes lost over 200 lbs in order to compete at the Division III level!
It is never too late to start competing if you are physically able to do so. However, you must be honest with yourself and your level of ability to ensure that your competitive experience is a positive one. More specifically, the older you are, the harder it will be to be successful in competitions. Simply put, the best wrestlers in the world typically start at a very young age, so you may not fare well at the higher levels.
If you do want to start (or get back into) competing, wrestling at local freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments is a good start regardless of your experience level. There are typically open or veteran divisions that you can enter. Even if you are new to the sport, you will likely be matched up against wrestlers with some experience — make sure you are prepared for this.
Once you start gaining (or re-gaining) experience and become successful at local wrestling events, you may want to think about competing at higher levels. There are typically regional, national, and world-level events for veteran wrestlers. These events are usually further broken down by age to ensure fairness among older competitors.
Make It Count
Whether you are new to the sport or have been away from the mat for a few years, how and where to get started isn’t always clear. But by reading this guide, you should now have a better idea of your options. The most important thing is to simply find a place to train to get on the mat. From there, you can decide whether you want to take a relaxed or more serious approach to your wrestling. Now get out there and get started!