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Why Kids Not Wrestling

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I had a conversation recently with a set of parents. Mother was a former college gymnast and father was a former college wrestler who won a D3 title in the early nineties They have 2 sons that don’t wrestle. One is a gifted soccer player and the other is into music. They also have a daughter in law school and was never interested in sports. I asked the parents why their sons did not wrestle. The mother said that the sport has a bad reputation regarding skin disease and cauliflower ear. She didn’t want her sons to deal with that. The father said that the amount of time wrestling requires today to be competitive is too much and keeps kids away from other valuable experiences. I met all 3 children. They are good kids, strong students, and are solid citizens. They have the positive attributes that any parent would want for their children.

 

The father believed that wrestling did a lot for him but said there were other ways his children could learn those lessons.

 

Something to think about....

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This is kind of the stance I take. It frightens me to think about where I'd be in life if it weren't for this sport, but if I'm ever lucky enough to have kids I'll never push them to do anything more than try it out.

 

If they fall in love with it, cool. If they like it enough to stick it out and eventually develop a passion for it (like I did) then great. If they hate it that sucks, but fine. All I want is for my children to have something they're passionate about, and that they learn valuable life lessons through.

 

Wrestling is special but at the end of the day it is not the only sport that can teach kids discipline, and that hard work usually pays off. They can find those things in other sports, or in art/music, etc. If I as a (hopefully someday) parent do my job, and they have a decent coach/teacher/mentor then they can absolutely still be incredible people. 

 

 With all this being said, I really hope that if I have kids at least one wrestles. It is a special sport and I'd love to share my passion with my kids. If not - I'll also love learning about their passions!   

Edited by iGranby

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This is kind of the stance I take. It frightens me to think about where I'd be in life if it weren't for this sport, but if I'm ever lucky enough to have kids I'll never push them to do anything more than try it out

 

If they fall in love with it, cool. If they like it enough to stick it out and eventually develop a passion for it (like I did) then great. If they hate it that sucks, but fine. All I want is for my children to have something they're passionate about, and that they learn valuable life lessons through.

 

Wrestling is special but at the end of the day it is not the only sport that can teach kids discipline, and that hard work usually pays off. They can find those things in other sports, or in art/music, etc. If I as a (hopefully someday) parent do my job, and they have a decent coach/teacher/mentor then they can absolutely still be incredible people.

 

With all this being said, I really hope that if I have kids at least one wrestles. It is a special sport and I'd love to share my passion with my kids. If not - I'll also love learning about their passions!

Perfectly written. I’ve been an educator for 40 years and brought up 3 children. (Son wrestled.). You will be an excellent parent!

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This will not be received well but....   I do think there are some things you require your kids to do.  I expect them to study.  I expect them to be polite. I expect them not to use drugs.   I also expected them to wrestle.  I told them they could do any sport they wanted but they had to wrestle.  If I left it up to them, they may of said no to wrestling because it is really tough physically and mentally.  They lost a lot when they were little and may have quit if I would have let them.  Now, I will say, they need to truly understand that you care more about them, dare I say love them, more than you love wrestling, but they are still required to do it.

 

If you are wondering, they wrestled all the way through college (that was their choice), and still don't love it as much as me but doing well.

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Perfectly written. I’ve been an educator for 40 years and brought up 3 children. (Son wrestled.). You will be an excellent parent!

 

That's very kind of you. I hope you are correct, I'll do my best some day I hope! lol

 

This will not be received well but....   I do think there are some things you require your kids to do.  I expect them to study.  I expect them to be polite. I expect them not to use drugs.   I also expected them to wrestle.  I told them they could do any sport they wanted but they had to wrestle.  If I left it up to them, they may of said no to wrestling because it is really tough physically and mentally.  They lost a lot when they were little and may have quit if I would have let them.  Now, I will say, they need to truly understand that you care more about them, dare I say love them, more than you love wrestling, but they are still required to do it.

 

If you are wondering, they wrestled all the way through college (that was their choice), and still don't love it as much as me but doing well.

 

I mean, everyone is different and you're allowed to do things and see things your way. From what I've gathered what you're doing/have done has worked. I agree with you on most parts other than "requiring" the kiddos to wrestle, and even then I see the value in taking that approach - especially because you emphasize that its about them, and your love for them. There's no magic formula to parenting.  

Edited by iGranby

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This will not be received well but....   I do think there are some things you require your kids to do.  I expect them to study.  I expect them to be polite. I expect them not to use drugs.   I also expected them to wrestle.  I told them they could do any sport they wanted but they had to wrestle.  If I left it up to them, they may of said no to wrestling because it is really tough physically and mentally.  They lost a lot when they were little and may have quit if I would have let them.  Now, I will say, they need to truly understand that you care more about them, dare I say love them, more than you love wrestling, but they are still required to do it.

 

If you are wondering, they wrestled all the way through college (that was their choice), and still don't love it as much as me but doing well.

 

I was forced to wrestle when I was younger. I hated it for a year, but got committed, learned to appreciate it, and twenty years later I'm a high school coach and former college wrestler. People tell me all of the time "I can't force my kid to do something if they don't want to" but you kind of can, so long as you are consistent and disciplined as a parent. The average parent backs off after a kid says no a hand full of times and the kid learns that they are the boss, not the parent. This also depends on the kid. I liked sports and once I realized I could be successful, my parents didn't have to force me to do it anymore. 

 

I do not have a boy yet, but I kind of go back and forth on if I would force him to wrestle. My first strategy is to get him hooked by exposing him to the sport's big events on tv and in person at a young age. Keep it more relevant than any other sport in our house, get him interested as a fan, and share some of our family history. Hopefully that will take care of it. 

Edited by superbowlhomeboy

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This is an interesting topic.   And as iGranby said, "There's no magic formula for parenting."

 

I think we are making the term "force" a negative.  I have two kids, girl 7, boy 5.  I "force" them both to play piano, play chess, play soccer, to dance, and yes I "force" them to wrestle.  90% of the extra-curricular activities they do, I "force" them to do.  I feel it is my role as a parent to introduce them to a variety of activities, and "force" to them join in.  And once we commit to a season, I don't allow them to quit, I "force" them to finish the season.  Also, why I'm a big fan of seasonal activities, teaches kids commitment at an early age.

Like iGranby also so brilliantly said, "All I want is for my children to have something they're passionate about, and that they learn valuable life lessons through."  In my mind, that real passion won't come until puberty, and when it does I hope to fully support them in whatever it is.

Edited by SikeD

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I wrestled for many years and did very well until a serious injury ended my career.  I always felt I had unfinished business, and it bothered me.  I forced my son to wrestle, and it was ugly at times.  I was way too hard on him, and I was living through him.  That was a huge mistake, and I own that.  He stopped wrestling in college for a time.  I was heartbroken.  I know one of the main reasons he stopped was me and the pressure.

 

I am now in my mid-50's, and after coaching lots of other kids, learning to back off, and coming to grips with my own issues/failings, I became a better father, coach and person.  It really was a spiritual journey for me.

 

I try to use my own experience to help other wrestlers and families enjoy and appreciate the sport more.  I encourage support for wrestlers win or lose.  Wrestling is tough enough.  You don't need to pressure them all the time to 'be the best'.  Find enjoyment in the sport, its complexity, its excitement, even the social aspect.  It's OK to be passionate, but don't let that passion get the best of you.  Keep it positive.

 

We have talked about those early days, and I have apologized many times for being so hard on him.

 

Now for the happy ending...

 

My son did reach a very high plateau in college and even traveled overseas to compete.  He graduated from college and got a job in his field, and he's back coaching and competing in his mid twenties.  He seems to be enjoying it more than ever.

 

I asked him, "If you have a son, do you think you would like him to wrestle?".  He paused for second and said, "Yes.  I think I would."

 

That is the irony of wrestling.

Edited by ClawRide

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The father said that the amount of time wrestling requires today to be competitive is too much and keeps kids away from other valuable experiences.

I take one of my kids to a soccer game, and in two hours we leave. That includes a 1-hour practice before the game, and the game itself, where my kids spend most of their time playing.

 

I take my son to a hockey game, and again, I'm out in about two hours. We often have to be there at the break of dawn; we haul a huge bag of gear; and a good deal of time is spent putting on the gear. Still, he gets to play for most of an hour.

 

I take my kids to a wrestling tournament, we're there all day if it goes well, and about half of the day if it doesn't. When things go well, you may get 20 minutes of mat time. When they go badly, it can be very, very brief.

 

When I was growing up, I accepted this without question. It didn't bother me to spend all day in a gym on Saturday, and then do it again in another gym on Sunday. I didn't feel I was sacrificing, because I wasn't going to do anything more interesting if I didn't go. I loved the freedom of tournaments; nobody told me what to do all day long.

 

As a parent, who values his own time and his kids', I realize how awful it is. I'm about as devoted to the sport as anyone I know, and I love sharing it with my kids, but I really have to weigh what we're getting versus what we're giving up. And the frustrating thing is, it's unnecessary. Time spent wrestling is great, but time wasted so you can spend time wrestling is just time wasted. We need to do better than this.

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This is an interesting topic.   And as iGranby said, "There's no magic formula for wrestling."

 

I think we are making the term "force" a negative.  I have two kids, girl 7, boy 5.  I "force" them both to play piano, play chess, play soccer, to dance, and yes I "force" them to wrestle.  90% of the extra-curricular activities they do, I "force" them to do.  I feel it is my role as a parent to introduce them to a variety of activities, and "force" to them join in.  And once we commit to a season, I don't allow them to quit, I "force" them to finish the season.  Also, why I'm a big fan of seasonal activities, teaches kids commitment at an early age.

Like iGranby also so brilliantly said, "All I want is for my children to have something they're passionate about, and that they learn valuable life lessons through."  In my mind, that real passion won't come until puberty, and when it does I hope to fully support them in whatever it is.

 

Thank you for your kind words regarding my post(s) - I think you hit the nail on the head regarding "finishing out" seasons. Im pretty big on that myself. I think that changes a bit when you make it to HS. Unless there are special circumstances I think kids owe it to themselves to finish out HS sports that they started as freshman. I see too many kids quit after 1 or 2 years and its a real shame. They almost always come back and talk about how they regret quitting. 

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This will not be received well but....   I do think there are some things you require your kids to do.  I expect them to study.  I expect them to be polite. I expect them not to use drugs.   I also expected them to wrestle.  I told them they could do any sport they wanted but they had to wrestle.  If I left it up to them, they may of said no to wrestling because it is really tough physically and mentally.  They lost a lot when they were little and may have quit if I would have let them.  Now, I will say, they need to truly understand that you care more about them, dare I say love them, more than you love wrestling, but they are still required to do it.

Yeah, "never force kids to do anything" is simple-minded, and not apt to produce good results. "Be careful about forcing kids to do things, because it can go badly wrong," is much better advice. Unfortunately, that advice works best for people who don't need it: people with good judgement. You can't get around the fact that you need to look at what you're doing with your kids, and see if it's actually producing the results you want.

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I take my kids to a wrestling tournament, we're there all day if it goes well, and about half of the day if it doesn't. When things go well, you may get 20 minutes of mat time. When they go badly, it can be very, very brief.

 

When I was growing up, I accepted this without question. It didn't bother me to spend all day in a gym on Saturday, and then do it again in another gym on Sunday. I didn't feel I was sacrificing, because I wasn't going to do anything more interesting if I didn't go. I loved the freedom of tournaments; nobody told me what to do all day long.

 

As a parent, who values his own time and his kids', I realize how awful it is. I'm about as devoted to the sport as anyone I know, and I love sharing it with my kids, but I really have to weigh what we're getting versus what we're giving up. And the frustrating thing is, it's unnecessary. Time spent wrestling is great, but time wasted so you can spend time wrestling is just time wasted. We need to do better than this.

 

Totally agree!  Wrestling tournaments can by the worst and are a reason why the numbers have declined at the high school level, and probably at the lower levels too.  I do appreciate that our area (and from what I've seen in other areas too) they little kids start in the morning, and for the most part are done by noon.  The cadets and above weigh in at 10 AM (satellite weigh-ins are allowed) and done by 3-4.  

 

And to be a bit more on topic, the more parents who recognize kids wrestling is about development and enjoyment, the more our sport will grow.

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The first thing I thought about when I read this post was the mom has valid reasons to avoid wrestling.  Every wrestler will eventually get a communicable skin disease and most highly motivated ones will get cauliflower ear.  The dad was correct about the commitment wrestling requires  to be 'competitive'.  Is there any point to wrestling other than to be competitive?  Eh, not really sure but It is embarrassing and in later years highly uncomfortable to not be competitive.  More so than other sports. I encouraged my kids to wrestle because I like it, but didn't force them and they chose to do it.  I think forcing them to try new things and get out of their comfort zone is good parenting.  Where it gets ugly is forcing them to win.

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Thank you for your kind words regarding my post(s) - I think you hit the nail on the head regarding "finishing out" seasons. Im pretty big on that myself. I think that changes a bit when you make it to HS. Unless there are special circumstances I think kids owe it to themselves to finish out HS sports that they started as freshman. I see too many kids quit after 1 or 2 years and its a real shame. They almost always come back and talk about how they regret quitting. 

 

Agreed. If nothing else, teach kids to be reliable and follow through on their commitments to both the team and themselves. 

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The father said that the amount of time wrestling requires today to be competitive is too much and keeps kids away from other valuable experiences.

To me, this is it. Kids are smart they know that Johnny’s dad has been pushing him year-round to be a multiple-time kids champ so various public and private high schools can recruit him. X kid just started and gets the living hell beat out of him by Johnny. The kid who took the whipping is going to find something else to do by high school. This scenario is becoming more and more common: kids specialize before high school and the name of the game is becoming “elite” as soon as possible. This will only continue.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I find it interesting that the dad made a comment on the amount of time it takes to be competitive. I think that amount of time is virtually identical in most sports. Soccer for instance can be very expensive and there are places where kids wanting to make the high school team are highly "encouraged" to be on a specific travel team.

 

As the Ray man said, we need to rethink our competitions. In my parts the weeknight friendly duals are extremely popular and the Saturday events are dying a slow death.

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As a former D1 wrestler I will not apologize for saying that wrestling is not for everyone.  As a 4" nothing 75lb athletic kid in the 7th grade it provided me with an opportunity to compete in a contact sport.  When a small 75lb kid try's to play football and tackle a mature 150lb kid it's far from being a fair fight but on the mat I had the opportunity to be successful.  Wrestling captivated me like nothing had ever done before or since.  With that being said I have two sons and a daughter and not one of them wrestled past the 8th grade.  My oldest son wrestled in middle school and went undefeated against some national level competition in the 8th grade but decided to focus on baseball (played NCAA D1) and football in high school.  Now in his 30's he admits that he wished that he had wrestled in high school and I have no doubt that he would have been successful.  Another son was on a team that won a state championship in hockey and my daughter was involved in dance.  My thoughts are that you must allow your children to select their own path to follow.  If you force them into wrestling or any other sport the chances of it being a great experience are not high.  One of my college teammates  was a national champion and both his son and daughter elected to play basketball and that's fine.  As a parent it is my job to educate and raise my children to be both good and productive citizens not to become an Olympic champion.  All I ever wanted is for all of my children to participate in a school sponsored after school activity that would occupy their free time.   I have yet to see a female get pregnant or a young man break into a home while they were in a smelly wrestling room, shooting hoops, running around the track or practicing a dance routine.  

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I take one of my kids to a soccer game, and in two hours we leave. That includes a 1-hour practice before the game, and the game itself, where my kids spend most of their time playing.

 

I take my son to a hockey game, and again, I'm out in about two hours. We often have to be there at the break of dawn; we haul a huge bag of gear; and a good deal of time is spent putting on the gear. Still, he gets to play for most of an hour.

 

I take my kids to a wrestling tournament, we're there all day if it goes well, and about half of the day if it doesn't. When things go well, you may get 20 minutes of mat time. When they go badly, it can be very, very brief.

 

When I was growing up, I accepted this without question. It didn't bother me to spend all day in a gym on Saturday, and then do it again in another gym on Sunday. I didn't feel I was sacrificing, because I wasn't going to do anything more interesting if I didn't go. I loved the freedom of tournaments; nobody told me what to do all day long.

 

As a parent, who values his own time and his kids', I realize how awful it is. I'm about as devoted to the sport as anyone I know, and I love sharing it with my kids, but I really have to weigh what we're getting versus what we're giving up. And the frustrating thing is, it's unnecessary. Time spent wrestling is great, but time wasted so you can spend time wrestling is just time wasted. We need to do better than this.

 

What is your opinion about only providing 15 minutes of rest between matches.  If you have 10 kids in a weight classification you could place 5 in pool A and 5 in pool B.  The whole weight classification reports to one single mat.  You would begin wrestling each pool and not stop until it was completed.  The number one kids in pool A would wrestle the number 1 kid in pool B and so on.  All kids would get 5 matches and the weight class would be completed in 1.5 hours or less.  

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I'm not sure what the right prescription is.   Times have changed.   I grew up in Western Pa, and our hs had two winter sports--basketball, and wrestling, which started when I was a sophomore.   Now our high school has swimming, and hockey.   Most of the schools in the area now offer soccer in the fall, and some have winter track, as well as lacrosse in the spring. 

 

For the kids in the median and below size category (I was one), wrestling still gives the best opportunity for a "fair" chance at success.  But for median and above sized kids, there are opportunities and pressures that weren't there decades ago.  There are other sports in the winter, and more pressure from the fall and spring sports to do off-season development and conditioning work. 

 

Wrestling also suffers from not being a team sport where substitutions are possible.  (Baseball has the same issue.)  You're not going to get into the contest in high school unless you can win the spot for the weight class.   Which brings up another issue, which is the weight control aspect.  It's a serious negative for most parents, and, ironically, it probably affects the lightweights more than the upper weights.  Parents of a kid who is small in stature are loathe to see him controlling his calorie intake.  It's understandable.

 

I do think the weekend competitions might be able to be shortened.  The only point that I'd make is that in watching the grade school and middle school competitions,  my observation is that the matchups and competition you get at the larger weekend events is much better than what usually happens in most "duals".  In the duals, maybe a third of the matches are decently competitive matchups, and I'd say two thirds of them are mismatches in skill or strength that wind up being completely one-sided.  It simply happens because of the difficulty of matching two teams of say, thirty kids each spread across three or four grades.  I had an eighth grader one year that no one could handle.  I used to describe him to the other coaches by saying "he's a lean 160 pound eighth grader".   At the larger tournaments, there would be one or two other kids like him, but usually not on another team that was close to us to wrestle duals. 

 

I'm long on observations here and short on solutions, but not sure what can be done.  

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I'm not sure what the right prescription is.   Times have changed.   I grew up in Western Pa, and our hs had two winter sports--basketball, and wrestling, which started when I was a sophomore.   Now our high school has swimming, and hockey.   Most of the schools in the area now offer soccer in the fall, and some have winter track, as well as lacrosse in the spring. 

 

For the kids in the median and below size category (I was one), wrestling still gives the best opportunity for a "fair" chance at success.  But for median and above sized kids, there are opportunities and pressures that weren't there decades ago.  There are other sports in the winter, and more pressure from the fall and spring sports to do off-season development and conditioning work. 

 

Wrestling also suffers from not being a team sport where substitutions are possible.  (Baseball has the same issue.)  You're not going to get into the contest in high school unless you can win the spot for the weight class.   Which brings up another issue, which is the weight control aspect.  It's a serious negative for most parents, and, ironically, it probably affects the lightweights more than the upper weights.  Parents of a kid who is small in stature are loathe to see him controlling his calorie intake.  It's understandable.

 

I do think the weekend competitions might be able to be shortened.  The only point that I'd make is that in watching the grade school and middle school competitions,  my observation is that the matchups and competition you get at the larger weekend events is much better than what usually happens in most "duals".  In the duals, maybe a third of the matches are decently competitive matchups, and I'd say two thirds of them are mismatches in skill or strength that wind up being completely one-sided.  It simply happens because of the difficulty of matching two teams of say, thirty kids each spread across three or four grades.  I had an eighth grader one year that no one could handle.  I used to describe him to the other coaches by saying "he's a lean 160 pound eighth grader".   At the larger tournaments, there would be one or two other kids like him, but usually not on another team that was close to us to wrestle duals. 

 

I'm long on observations here and short on solutions, but not sure what can be done.  

 

During off season K-8 tournaments we must find a way to get families in and out of the gym in no more than 2.5 hours on the weekends.  For parents to arrive at a tournament at 7:00am, not wrestle until 11:00am and not get out of the tournament until 6:00pm or later is unexcusable.  

 

At the high school level I feel to grow the sport it would be nice to allow a single school the opportunity to enter 2 wrestlers in each weight classification for tournaments and the state tournament series.  If the result is one school goes 1 & 2 in 4 different weight classifications that is great.    

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Getting kids in and out of the gym has to be a priority. For high school, two day tournaments every weekend are good if everyone is already bought in and committed, but if you are trying to build, this will drive many families away. For K-8, you have to get them out of the gym in only a few hours. Set a timeline and stick to it. Bigger is not always better. Get kids 3-5 matches and get them on their way. 

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During off season K-8 tournaments we must find a way to get families in and out of the gym in no more than 2.5 hours on the weekends.  For parents to arrive at a tournament at 7:00am, not wrestle until 11:00am and not get out of the tournament until 6:00pm or later is unexcusable.  

 

At the high school level I feel to grow the sport it would be nice to allow a single school the opportunity to enter 2 wrestlers in each weight classification for tournaments and the state tournament series.  If the result is one school goes 1 & 2 in 4 different weight classifications that is great.    

I am in agreement on the multiple kids per weight, but would rather go for the Michigan model of 14 kids no more than two per weight or the NAIA model of maybe allowing 16 or 18 entries into the state series. 

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During off season K-8 tournaments we must find a way to get families in and out of the gym in no more than 2.5 hours on the weekends. For parents to arrive at a tournament at 7:00am, not wrestle until 11:00am and not get out of the tournament until 6:00pm or later is unexcusable.

 

At the high school level I feel to grow the sport it would be nice to allow a single school the opportunity to enter 2 wrestlers in each weight classification for tournaments and the state tournament series. If the result is one school goes 1 & 2 in 4 different weight classifications that is great.

I think during the off-season, K-8 kids should be playing other sports.

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