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Wrestling - A Sport For Your Child?

Updated on July 10, 2011

The Value Of Wrestling For Your Child

As a young girl, I was a tomboy. I was game to try any sport. My love of sports and athletics has not waned through the years. I must admit that I tend to spectate more than participate at this point in my life. I have particularly enjoyed watching my two sons' athletic endeavors. My first son is twelve years older than my youngest son. The oldest stuck with football. He tried baseball but it was not for him. The youngest has played football and baseball and seems to be leaning towards baseball as his primary sport. However, our family's move to a new area of town five years ago resulted in my youngest son getting involved in wrestling. What an eye opener that sport has been!

I know that a lot of people in my age group probably think of Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair when they think of wrestling. Well, let me tell you, I am far more impressed with the sport of wrestling than I am with the WWE or the WWF. The sport of wrestling is a far cry from the prime time pay-per-view variety you watch in your living room. The sport of wrestling does not have participants that wear outlandish clothes and makeup. The sport of wrestling requires skill and determination. It is not always the strongest person that wins the match. The sport of wrestling has rules and requires sportsmanship. The sport of wrestling holds the athlete accountable.

So, why should a parent encourage a child to consider wrestling or at least give it a try? In many areas of the country, wrestling is just something to do when it's too cold to be outside playing football or baseball. It is something used to "stay in shape". It is not taken as seriously as other more well-known team sports. Guess what? It should be! Let me give you some reasons why.

First, you will not see any of the activities that take place in professional wrestling. There will be no throwing anyone out of the ring, no bashing of chairs across heads and shoulders, no gouging of eyes or any other such behavior. Rules are followed strictly in order to make sure that participants stay as safe as possible and that matches are as fair as possible. Before matches, wrestlers shake hands and afterwards wrestlers shake the hand of the opposing coach.

I have heard a lot of people say that their child probably would not be suited for wrestling because they are not very strong. While strength is helpful, speed and knowledge of the moves and when to use them is actually more important. It takes smarts to be a successful wrestler. It also takes a great deal of practice. Initially, wrestlers tend to execute moves incorrectly or just not use them at all. Then they learn some moves that they execute well. Eventually, wrestlers learn how to put multiple moves together in succession and how to respond to the efforts of their opponent. When this last stage is reached, you can see the confidence building. Often at this stage they require very little coaching during competition because they know what to do. It is almost second nature to them.

Physically, competitors are evenly matched in terms of weight and age. While a wrestler may have an experience advantage, participants do not have to worry about having to wrestle bigger or older people. In sanctioned tournaments, wrestlers are within 0-2 years of the same age as their opponents and within five pounds of their opponent's weight. What does this mean? It means that your child cannot blame their performance on being outweighed or being forced to compete against a much older wrestler. What they will learn quickly though is that experience will make a better wrestler. All things being equal, if you wrestle somebody that has more experience, the more experienced wrestler will likely win. This teaches a new wrestler that they will have to work hard and take some knocks before they are able to compete. It can be a long learning curve.

The most difficult lesson for a young wrestler to learn is that when they lose (and they will and often frequently), the sport is not like others. When a wrestler is on the mat and the outcome is not a victory, there is no one to share the blame with. There are no teammates on the mat to turn to and ask what happened. A wrestler can only ask himself. This is a great lesson in accountability. It is humbling. But, on the flip side, when that same wrestler succeeds, they can take most of the credit. I say most because coaching is also involved as is the encouragement of other wrestlers on the team.

I could continue on with some of the merits of wrestling. These are just a few. The biggest benefit to a young person that takes up wrestling is that the sport teaches that sometimes you need to be able to depend on yourself and that with preparation and development, it can be done. This is a lesson that applies not only to wrestling but also to other areas of life. The bottom line is that wrestling can assist a young person in developing the confidence to know that with hard work and perserverence they can depend on themself when they need to.

The intent of this piece is not to discourage the value of team sports. Team sports teach athletes how to work together and there is certainly value in being able to do so. But, if your child shows an interest in the sport of wrestling, encourage it. If it is available to them and they do not show an interest, you might want to throw it out for consideration. Doing so might be just the thing to get your child involved in learning the value of being able to depend on oneself!


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