Wrestling is a great sport that teaches athletes so many valuable lessons about sport and life in general. Dan Gable, legendary University of Iowa coach, World, and Olympic Champion; is quoted as saying “Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” I still think that life can continue to throw powerful punches and challenges, however, I am in agreement that wrestling is a sport that teaches hard work and personal accountability. If one fails on the wrestling mat, there is no one else to blame but the individual. It is hard to blame a coach or a teammate for a sub par performance, and wrestling forces an individual to look inward to see what you’re really made of. Here are my top ten reasons why kids should wrestle.
1. Wrestling develops basic athletic skills
Wrestling is one of those sports that requires a lot of body control. It isn’t enough to be able to run, jump, or throw. You have to be able to use your neck, your back, your arms, your legs, and everything else that you can control to help you to win a match. One of the staples of a good wrestling practice is tumbling in the warm up. People often recognize the value of signing children up in gymnastics, but many people are unaware that there are a lot of tumbling and gymnastics movements that are a part of wrestling practice. We make sure to spend a portion of every practice, especially with our youngest athletes, on tumbling. You have to build an athlete before you can turn him into a wrestler. That is not even to mention all of the flexibility, strength, explosiveness, and skill required to execute a lot of wrestling moves effectively.
2. Wrestling develops personal responsibility
Wrestling is a sport that makes you responsible like no other. Whether you win or lose, it’s entirely up to you. You are responsible for your training. You are responsible for making weight. You have to score. It’s all on you. There are dual competitions and team tournaments where every individual’s performance comes into play, but your teammate can’t step in to tag you out, if things aren’t going your way. You have to be ready to be ready to perform every single match.
3. Wrestling develops mental toughness
The training that is required for wrestling is very intense to say the least. In just a six minute match, you can feel entirely wiped out. In the heat of a tough match, your lungs can burn, your legs and back can be worn out, and your forearms can be completely swollen with blood. Because of the intense nature of the sport, you have to be prepared for anything. You also have to be mentally tough and prepared to square up one on one with your opponent. If you step on the mat, and you don’t believe that you are going to win, you are in trouble. You have to be mentally strong to be ready to perform under pressure on a regular basis. You have to be mentally prepared to push your body beyond what it wants to do.
4. Wrestling teaches about nutrition and weight maintenance
One of the hardest parts of wrestling is making weight. It is a challenge to go through the regular wrestling workouts, and when you are cutting weight, you also will probably be doing extra workouts on the side as well as cutting your calorie intake. You have to learn how to say no to the cake and say yes to fresh fruits and vegetables. You have to learn to say no to the soda and chips and say yes to water and chicken breasts. The better you eat, the more energy that you will have, and the better that you will perform.
5. Wrestling brings kids together and builds a strong camaraderie
Adversity has a way of bringing people together, and due to the challenges that a wrestler faces on a daily basis in practice and competition, the bonds between wrestlers become very strong. In a wrestling practice, you have a group of guys that are giving it their very all to become the best they can be, and in order to do that, they have to compete against each other, day in and day out. However, even though guys are trying to break their opponent during practice, they can also be some of the best friends after practice is over. There is a great feeling of empathy that is developed for the other athletes, and when they win big matches, you are happy for them. When they lose big matches, you can feel the sting of their loss too.