top of page

Youth Wrestling For Parents

What is wrestling about?

Wrestling is perhaps the purest form of athletic competition to exist in the realm of organized sports. There are no bats or balls, or pucks or sticks. No pads or helmets or jerseys. There's no time to rethink strategy, regroup, or even to catch your breath. There's only you, and your opponent of equal weight and size. Experience, preparation, and the will to succeed will determine the victor. There's no doubt about it, wrestling tops the list of intense, highly competitive sports.


Wrestling involves a unique balance of practically every aspect of physical and psychological conditioning. Strength is as important as stamina. Speed as technique, strategy as intensity, and power as is coordination. However, it's not always the natural athlete that ultimately succeeds in the sport - it's the natural competitor.

Kids that are strong for their weight, well-coordinated, and naturally aggressive are usually more successful early on in the sport. However, it's the highly competitive kids that really enjoy the sport, that eventually achieve the highest levels of success. True competitors come in all shapes and sizes, and in varying degrees of natural talent. Many of the best wrestlers the world has ever seen, such as John Smith, Dan Gable and Dave Schultz were not star athletes. They are and were ordinary people with an extraordinary competitive drive.

Although it is wise for parents and coaches to de-emphasize winning, victories can be extremely gratifying because of the strong sense of personal accomplishment. The effort put forth in practice and preparation is apparent in competition, and not lost in a team effort. This aspect of wrestling can be a great motivator and teacher and can develop a person's work ethic, self-confidence, and ability to achieve in all areas of life. Wrestling is great for exposing the "champion" within most any kid, but especially with those that love to compete.

Wrestling Health Benefits.

Experts believe that unilateral (equal emphasis on all muscle groups) physical development is especially important in young athletes. Isolated development at an early age, over a long period, increases the risk of injury and limits long-term foundational growth. Swimming, gymnastics, and wrestling are among the few sports that engage both pulling and pushing muscle groups.

Of all the sports choices a parent and child can make, wrestling is perhaps the best sport for overall physical development because it involves all muscle groups, and requires the greatest balance of athletic skill. In other words, wrestling does more to improve basic things such as strength, balance, speed, agility and intensity and is not as specialized as most other common sports.

Character Development.

Wrestlers learn, by the nature of the sport, that long-term success has much more to do with the investment made than the "natural" gifts one is given. Wrestlers learn the value of preparation and hard work, and the role it plays in achieving one's goals. Wrestling provides real-life experiences that build and strengthen the following character traits:


  • Self Reliance

  • Mental Toughness

  • Work Ethic

  • Competitive Spirit

  • Responsibility

  • Self Discipline

  • Goal Orientation

  • Confidence

In order to keep this in perspective, one must realize that character development is a slow process, driven by a variety of positive and negative influences with varying degrees of impact. Sports can play a significant role in character development, but other influences may have an even greater impact. Wrestling, in itself, is not a character development solution, but years of participation can provide positive influences. A person's overall character includes many other dimensions, such as integrity and compassion, that may have little if anything to do with sports.

What About Weight Cutting Does My Child Have Too?

NO! There's no weight cutting in youth wrestling programs. It's true that weight cutting does exist at the high school and collegiate levels, but there are quite a few public misconceptions.


Some parents automatically associate wrestling with excessive, out-of-control weight loss, akin to anorexia and bulimia. In reality, the opposite is true - wrestlers gain control of their body weight and body composition and are able to set and achieve reasonable goals with respect to muscle mass, fat percentage, and body weight. 


This form of weight control is more of a factor in later years when competing at high school or collegiate levels, but coaches and wrestlers at that level are well aware of health and safety factors, and not likely to engage in unhealthy or risky forms of weight loss. Furthermore, state and national governing bodies, such as USA Wrestling, now prohibit any form of rapid or unsafe weight loss.

To some, the practice of any sort of weight control for the purpose of competing in a sport may still seem extreme and unnecessary, however, at the appropriate age, with proper education, planning, and discipline, weight control can be a good thing that caries into other sports and can be an asset in maintaining one's health later in life. Proper weight control results in optimum body composition, allowing athletes to compete in peak physical condition, with the greatest ratio of strength, energy, and power to body weight. These are factors in virtually every sport at the Olympic level.

With young wrestlers, it is only appropriate to discuss concepts. It can be a good time to explain how healthy eating can have an impact on performance, or to discuss the difference between healthy foods and "junk foods". Virtually all kids can learn and benefit from this information, even at a young age.

Wrestling Basics 

Wrestling matches consist of three periods. Periods can vary in length from one minute in
duration for younger age groups, to as long as three minutes for college wrestling. Either
wrestler can win the match at any time if they are able to pin their opponent or develop a lead
of more than 14 points. Otherwise, the wrestler that can accumulate the most points by the end
of the third period (or after overtime in the case of a tie) wins the match.

There are only two positions from which referees start, or continue a match. The first is the neutral position, with both wrestlers standing and facing each other. The other is the referee's position, where one wrestler starts on his hands and knees down on the mat, and the other starts on top, behind, and in control. The first period always begins in the neutral position. Each wrestler has their choice in one of the remaining periods, to choose to start from the top or bottom referee's position, or in the neutral position. If the action must be stopped before the end of a period, the referee restarts the wrestlers in the starting position that best reflects the position the wrestlers were in when the action was stopped.


The scoring system is rather simple. Takedowns (when from a neutral position one wrestler is able to bring the other to the mat and gain control) are worth two points. Escapes (when the bottom wrestler is able to break free from the top wrestler and revert back to a neutral position) are worth one point. Reversals, (when a wrestler on the bottom is able to reverse the control so that the opponent is on the bottom) are worth two points.


Back points (also called near fall) are awarded when one wrestler comes close to pinning the other (i.e. exposing the other wrestler's back) and are worth two or three points depending on the length of time that the opponent's back is exposed. In addition, penalty points can be awarded when the opposing wrestler performs illegal moves or is penalized for excessive stalling.


Competition is conducted in a manner as to promote and require good sportsmanship.

Competitors are expected to show respect to opponents, officials, and coaches regardless of the outcome of their match. Both wrestlers are required to shake hands before and after the match. It is also common practice for each wrestler to shake the hand of their opponent's coach after the match.

Required Equipment

Basic wrestling equipment includes headgear, wrestling shoes, and a singlet. Wrestling shoes offer more ankle support than the traditional shoe and are designed lightweight and tight to the foot to promote freedom of movement. Headgear can prevent outer ear injuries and bruises during practice and competition. The standard wrestling uniform, known as a singlet, is designed to fit snug to the body so that it does not restrict the movement of either wrestler. Kneepads are sometimes worn by choice. 

"Original Author - Bill Campbell"

Health Benefits
Character Development
Weight Cutting
Wrestling Basics
Required Equipment
bottom of page