Top 10 Reasons to Get Your Child Involved in Wrestling
Alright guys, I’m back with you again to kick a little more knowledge about the wonderful sport of wrestling. Normally in my articles I acknowledge my own bias toward the sport and certain aspects of it, however I won’t need to cover that this time around as this article toots the wrestling horn for me. Now don’t let the title fool you, a lot of these benefits aren’t just for kids, but adults as well. I’ve seen many a parent pick up wrestling just to practice, learn, have fun, and do something constructive with their child(ren), it’s never too late to learn a new skill. Wrestling goes so much deeper than wrestling just for the sake of competition, even though that is part of the fun. Hopefully this blog will make somebody weigh some options and make a positively life-altering decision by putting their little ones in man’s oldest contest.
Now before anyone gets all bent out of shape, this is not to say you need any sort of predisposition or prerequisite to start wrestling. No one is born with an athletic skillset, but given the right coaching and environment they can learn one that suits their body and ability. One of the cool things about wrestling is that most people start with nothing, and the sport will give you the keys to open a door to a world of skill most people only see on TV. Wrestling combines things like tumbling, full body strength, flexibility, and explosiveness along with timing/reaction time. There is a lot to gain from a wrestling program as you can see, and we are just hitting SOME of the physical aspects required to be successful in the sport. Don’t get too overwhelmed, like I said, for as much as wrestling requires of you, it will give you everything you need.
This is probably one of my favorite takeaways from the sport of wrestling. Being a successful wrestler means (among other things) that you have developed a sense of personal responsibility toward not only yourself and your performance, but in some ways, also your teammates. Your performance, your winning or losing, your attitude, is entirely up to you. Wrestling follows a simple equation; you always work like you’re the bottom guy on the totem pole with something to prove even if you aren’t. Being in control of your winning and losing (even though I said you could right above this) is impossible. Sometimes, you do all the work, you diet right, you do everything you’re supposed to, and there is still someone better than you. It happens. If you do all these things that you’re supposed to do in preparation, I don’t think you’ll find yourself in that situation often.
The preparation to compete in wrestling alone is tougher than most sports put together. It makes you find your comfort zone in the midst of a room of uncomfortable situations. In a six minute match, sometimes shorter or longer depending on age and overtime, your muscles are exhausted, your lungs burn, your forearms so pumped with blood that grabbing anything requires serious effort, and yet I promise it is one of the most exhilarating things you or your child could ever do. People that have wrestled for a while carry this toughness with them everywhere; they are a different breed of human being. These uncomfortable positions and matches taught them to rise to the occasion and meet the issue head on. The great Dan Gable once said “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy” the older I get, the more I see that quote to be true.
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Now someone somewhere is reading this and thinking of their old high school weight cut horror stories. Let me assure you, the sport has come a ways since then. “Cutting weight” as it is most commonly referred to, relies much more on quality foods, number of workouts, proper planning, and assessment as opposed to sauna suits, extra layers and heat stroke. Most wrestlers when they’re young are paired up in margins instead of classes; I for one would never make my elementary kids “cut” weight. It is absolutely stupid and will make them hate the sport in the future, I assure you. I usually preach to kids good eating and proper hydration even in their early stages. All kids are picky for the most part so I always offer to help parents decide some good quality meals for their child. Lean meats, fruits, veggies, (fresh if possible, if not, frozen is much better than canned) plenty of water, high quality grains, and a whole lot of hard work is something that will never fail. Keep things simple when you can.
This is another one of the magnificent powers of the sport of wrestling. I’m sure as parents you have all seen your child struggle in social situations at least once. Let me tell you nothing builds an unbreakable bond like two athletes who bust their butt together and help each other along the way. What breeds friendship in practice, also breeds friendship in the classroom or anywhere else outside of it. Your child already knows someone because they wrestle together, then they find other common interests. It’s an easy stepping stone that more times than not leads to lifelong friendships. They tell us as adults that networking is important, why not give our kids a good start to making a potential best friend for life?
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You can’t just show up to practice when you feel like it and expect to get better. You can’t just compete on the days you feel 110% and expect to develop yourself into a champion. You can’t follow a good diet on occasion and expect to perform and feel your best as much as possible. Being a successful wrestler at any level requires discipline, much like being successful at anything else in life. You put the work in for long enough, the results will come, and if not, prepare to be passed up by someone who worked that much harder. Wrestlers seem to figure this out early on, the harder they practice, the more successful they are. As they get older, this bleeds out to other areas of their life turning them from successful athletes to successful and respectable adults.
With there being a lot of racial and ethnic tension in today’s society, youth sports seem to solve these issues like no other policy or club can. Kids are pretty color blind as is, but through wrestling, kids see things deeper than the skin. They learn to respect others based on the character they build, their work ethic, their position, and most of all, how they treat others. As kids grow up, if they develop the dreaded cauliflower ear (serious sarcasm, I love mine) it is a universal sign of wrestling. The love, dedication, passion and work ethic required to be involved speaks volumes more about an individual than their ethnicity ever will. No matter where they go in the world they will be recognized by that symbol. Don’t worry parents, the same can be done with clothing or accessories.
By this, I don’t necessarily mean wrestling as a whole, but more so the minute details that go into a move to make that move successful and make their wrestling better overall. This could be something small like hand placement, foot placement, hip positioning, and so on. This sort of micro-concentration better helps kids understand the concept of a move as opposed to just the move itself. It’s great if you learn a move, but with one concept you could learn ten moves. This type of focus could pay dividends at any job in a child’s future. Wrestling starting to sound more appealing yet?
Wrestling programs collegiately have begun to explode across the country at all divisions and levels, especially with the new addition of many more women’s programs. With programs across the NCAA at Division I, II, and III levels, NAIA, and JUCO there is a program out there to fit any child’s needs that can be easily coincided with a program to fit their choice of degree. With multiple scholarships and financial aid packages, wrestling gives some kids a chance at a higher level of education that otherwise may not be possible even if they do have good grades. Now different levels of athletics in college have different guidelines as to what they can offer, so make sure you do your research or contact a school official.
At the end of the day you want your child to have fun while they are wrestling, and I assure you they will. Despite all the challenges and adversity that one may face in wrestling it is so rewarding on so many levels. Going out to compete and getting your hand raised, learning a new skill, learning new ways to go about an old one, and physically seeing yourself improve and transform are very rewarding. Once you’re on the right track it is easy to get lost in the momentum of improvement and self-betterment, but that isn’t a bad thing now is it?
Wrestling is a fun way to develop so many skills and habits that your child will use throughout their life on the road to being successful adults. It builds strong minds, strong bodies, communication skills, self-defense, and life-long friendships. Throw all that in with a way to be able to further educate yourself at a much cheaper cost, or at no cost, and what’s not to love. Put your child in wrestling. It may be one of the best things you ever do for them.
Fundamentals are crucial to success regardless of what level you are at. Chael Sonnen was one of the best wrestlers to enter into MMA, and he used his fundamental wrestling to get there! WRESTLING FUNDAMENTALS FROM THE BAD GUY BY CHAEL SONNEN HAS WHAT YOU NEED!