6 Tips For Parents to make the most of youth wrestling

Most people know that peaking at right point in the season is crucial for an athlete’s success. Well, peaking at the right point in their career is even more important. I started wrestling at 6 years old and growing up I spent every weekend competing at the toughest tournaments throughout the nation. During that time I became very close with  a lot of different wrestlers whose parents took a lot of different approaches with their kids when it came to youth wrestling. Some of these wrestlers went on to have long and successful careers while others burnt out before they ever had the chance to reach their  full potential.

If you are a parent new to the sport of wrestling you’re probably starting to get an idea of how competitive and exciting it can be. However, it is very easy to get caught up in the intensity of the sport (which can be a great thing), but when it comes to youth wrestling you can’t jump the gun too early or your child will most likely have a short lived career. With that being said here are some tips to make sure your kid doesn’t go from undefeated at age 8 to depleted by 18.

little giants gif

6. Don’t over-train them; They don’t need to be a world champion at 5 years old

If you’re making your kid train 5 hours a day 7 days a week pump the breaks immediately. Why? Because, when you run a marathon no one cares who won the first lap, which is exactly what youth wrestling is in terms of your child’s wrestling career. Sure there are exceptions to the rule; some work horses come out of the womb doing squat thrusts, train like Olympians ever since and will always remain successful. Yet in general, forcing them to over train now will burn them out later. Youth wrestlers will have plenty of time to take the sport serious when they are older. Just let kids be kids, and focus on making wrestling fun for now. If they happen to pin their opponents left and right that’s just a bonus.

pump the breaks

5. Weekend wrestling trips may not exactly be a Disney vacation, but you can still make them fun.

Some of my best childhood memories are from family wrestling trips. Win or lose tournaments are a great experience and will help any wrestler at any age get better, but it doesn’t need to be all about wrestling. Find a nice hotel with an indoor pool, arcades, even play in the tunnels at McDonald’s it can be anything (as long as you steer clear of the Big Mac)! Just find something to make it an enjoyable trip so they want to do it again.

wrestling trip

4. Keep your composure; a bad match is not the end of the world…even though it will most definitely feel that way.

Watching someone you care about lose a big match or any match for that matter just flat out sucks; it doesn’t feel good at any age, especially when they didn’t wrestle well. However, as a parent you have to be careful how you approach your child when they wrestle poorly, meaning you can’t threaten to take their game boy away every time they have a bad match. I know, I know you didn’t travel all that way and spend all that money for them to wrestle like that blah blah blah; it’s frustrating I get it. It doesn’t matter, calmly give them some constructive feedback, but do not flip out and get mad at your 10 year old child for blowing a match. Trust me, regardless of age they are probably hurting enough they don’t need you kicking them when they’re down.


3.  Again Relax, it’s a youth wrestling match nobody payed off the ref

If you’re new to the sport you might think I’m stating this obvious here, but take one step inside the gauntlet that is a youth wrestling tournament and you’ll understand that it needs to be addressed and is much easier said than done. You can preach to your child all you want how winning and losing doesn’t matter as long as they try their best, but if they see you threatening to burn the ref’s house down over a bad call don’t be surprised that they never want to step foot on the mat again and are possibly traumatized for life…Now that’s not to say you can’t dispute a call, but keep in mind it’s all about the experience right now; they’re just kids and they’re very observant. So when it comes to screaming at referees until you’re blue in the face…wait till your kid is at least 12 years old.

anchor man

2. It’s okay if they want to miss a tournament; don’t disown your child for wanting to be a child

Traveling to weekend wrestling tournaments on a regular basis is great: you have family bonding time, your kid is getting better, and you’re building memories etc. But, if one day you’re child wants to skip a tournament for a sleep over don’t look at them like they just broke your heart, shattered your dreams, and tarnished the family name. Let the kid slap on a onesie and build a sheet fort with their friends; don’t worry there will be another tournament next weekend.

bad tournament

1. Cutting weight…just no

Under no circumstances should youth wrestlers be cutting weight; watching their weight as they get closer to high school okay, but as for the little guys and girls they will have plenty of time for that when they’re older. I am not even going to list the reasons why or insert a funny meme to reinforce my point, just don’t do it.

At all stages of wrestling from youth, high school, to college you see some wrestlers eventually burn out. Watching a once very successful wrestler lose interest in the sport is a very sad thing to see; fortunately it doesn’t have to happen. There are ways to always keep wrestling fun and it starts with creating positive experiences from the beginning.

Anyone else have any other suggestions to add to the list when it comes to youth wrestling?

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