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Parent's Guide to Youth Wrestling ? 2000
on Tuesday 13 December 2005
by Mike Atlas author list
in article > Articles written in 2005


Parent's Guide to Youth Wrestling ? 2000

by Bill Campbell Endorsed by:

USA WRESTLING

The 2005 revision of this can be found as a printable PDF document here.

Introduction

Of the many sports your child can participate in, Wrestling is perhaps the most misrepresented, misunderstood,
and underrated. The ratio of participation to public awareness is remarkably lopsided. Each year hundreds of
thousands of kids participate in this sport, yet the average person knows as much about wrestling as they might
know about rugby or polo -- which combined, involve far fewer athletes. The purpose of this guide is to generate
new interest and awareness among parents whose children want to participate in this exciting and rewarding sport.

Hopefully, this guide will help expose the myths and uncover the benefits wrestling has to offer, and most importantly,
help parents understand how this unique sport best compliments other sports choices their child makes.

Q&A

Doesn't wrestling involve or eventually lead to the kinds of things professional wrestlers do on television?
If you've been exposed to high school or college wrestling, you may
already realize that so-called "professional wrestling" (i.e. WWF) as
depicted on television, is entirely different from the actual sport of
wrestling. So different, in fact, that there is little, if anything in
common:

The Actual Sport of Wrestling

  • Based on self-discipline, hard work, skill and determination.
  • Conducted on a mat with regulation shoes, kneepads and headgear.
  • Physically demanding, but relatively safe and non-violent. Does not involve or even
    tolerate actions intended to cause injury.
  • World-class wrestlers utilize skills, strength and endurance developed over a lifetime
    of practice and hard work.

"Professional Wrestling"

  • Based on theatrics, entertainment value and shock factor.
  • Conducted in a ring with boots and outrageous costumes.
  • Violent in nature with contestants depicting punching, kicking, body slams, etc.
  • Showcase events typically involve participants with no amateur (real) wrestling
    experience.
If wrestling is nothing like WWF on TV, then what is it all about, and what
should parents and kids know about the sport when considering their options?

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.

Gifted athletes, especially those that are strong and well
coordinated, typically do well and take an early liking to the sport. Some kids
that thrive on competition, with only average or below average natural ability,
often surprise parents and coaches by eventually surpassing more gifted kids
through hard work and preparation.

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.

How does wrestling compare with team sports such as soccer, baseball and
basketball?

Wrestling is considered an individual sport, but includes
many of the benefits of team sports. Wrestling differs from most team sports in
that during competition, athletes must rely entirely on their own individual
abilities for success. Those that dedicate the time and effort will eventually
achieve at a level directly proportionate to the investment they have made -
even if their teammates prepare and perform at a different level.

Similarities exist in that teammates still depend on each
other in team competition. Team victories in meets and tournaments are
determined by the number of individual victories, and the extent to which each
match was won or lost. Wrestlers also develop an appreciation and respect for
teammates that have been through the same challenges, and a strong sense of
belonging and camaraderie with teammates and other wrestlers.

Other team sports may be better for developing interactive
player-toplayer skills such as passing and blocking, but wrestling can offer
benefits that other team sports lack. The individual nature of the sport
provides an outstanding opportunity for young athletes to develop a sense of
responsibility and self esteem while learning the relationship between effort
and achievement.

What physical effects can the sport of wrestling have on children?

Sports offer opportunities for children to improve their
strength, flexibility and coordination, while having fun. Most sports
activities rely more on some muscle groups and less on others. For example,
most sports focus primarily on pushing motions (leg/arm extension) such as
throwing, hitting, kicking, jumping and running.

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.

Does wrestling teach or promote aggressive or violent behavior?

Aggressiveness? Yes. Violence? No. Wrestling is often
referred to as the toughest sport, and in many ways it is, but it is certainly
not violent, nor does it lead to unruly or destructive behavior.

One of the factors that make wrestling so different from
most other sports is that wrestling involves head-to-head competition. Each
wrestler's efforts work in direct opposite from each other as in a tug-of-war
contest. Success in wrestling requires the ability to attack, as well as the
ability to stop your opponent's attack. The same factors apply with boxing and
martial arts, but an attack in wrestling is nonviolent. Wrestling does not
permit opponents to strike one another, and imposes strict penalties or
disqualification for violent behavior. In essence, wrestling is unique in the
fact that it can be very aggressive without being violent. The objective is not
to destroy or harm one's opponent, but to out-maneuver them and to gain control.

The intensity with which wrestlers compete increases with
age and experience. Kids wrestling, especially the younger age groups, in not
nearly as intense as high school or college wrestling. It's common for new
wrestlers to feel somewhat intimidated at first, not knowing how they compare
with other wrestlers, but that is soon overcome. Wrestling, perhaps more than
any other sport, is a great for building confidence while retaining a healthy
dose of humility. The long-term result is that it develops the champion from
within, and leads to greater success both on and off the mat, and does not turn
kids into bullies or thugs.

At what age should kids get involved?

Some parents feel that wrestling is too intense for young
kids, and that it is better suited for post-pubescent teenage years. Denying a
child the opportunity to participate in wrestling until high school greatly
reduces their chance of success. Wrestling is a sport involving very complex
technique that can take many years to master. A great high school athlete with
little or no wrestling experience has little or no chance against an 8 or 10
year veteran. Some kids can close this gap by their last year of high school,
but like most sports these days, starting younger seems to be the norm.

There are two entry points prior to high school - kid's
clubs and middle school wrestling. Both are very accommodating for new
wrestlers. Age and maturity level is not a factor by the time kids are in
middle school, but at the club level, kids can enter wrestling as young as 4 or
5 years of age.

There is no easy way to know when a child is mature enough
to be participating in a new sport. Some might be ready at three, while others
might not develop an interest for wrestling until their early teens. The best approach
is to introduce kids to the sport at a time and pace that is consistent with
their interest level, backing off when necessary, and allowing more
participation as their interest grows. In any case, it is important NOT to
involve very young kids in a highly competitive program. Parents with young
wrestlers should check that their club can properly accommodate young wrestlers
with a separate, less competitive regimen involving more fun,
"tumbling" types of activities, with virtually no emphasis on any of
the serious, more competitive aspects of the sport.

Is wrestling a "dangerous" sport?

There is a common misperception among the non-wrestling
public that wrestling is a very dangerous sport. Perhaps it's the aggressive
nature of the sport, association with "Pro Wrestling", or perhaps
fear of the unknown. Several studies have been conducted in recent years that
show wrestling to be safer than many more common sports including football, ice
hockey and gymnastics. Most notable in these reports, is wrestling's low
percentage of serious, permanent and life-threatening injury in relation to
other sports. A quote from USA Wrestling Club Organizing Guide has the
following to say about Risk of Injury:

"Wrestling is a contact sport and injuries will occur.
As would be expected, wrestling has more injuries than tennis and swimming, but
most wrestling injuries are minor, consisting of sprains and strains. Wrestling
has fewer serious injuries than football, basketball or ice hockey. There is a
lesser chance of getting seriously hurt when wrestling than when riding in a
car, skateboarding or riding a dirt bike."

Safety factors in some ways unique to wrestling include:

  • Rules, regulations, and state certified officials.
  • The high ratio of officials to athletes (one for every two).
  • Greater strength and flexibility as a result of more emphasis on practice and
    preparation.
  • Competitors are matched by age and weight.
  • Perhaps the most notable difference with respect to the risk of injury, is the
    lack of high-impact collision that occurs in most other common sports.
    Wrestlers do collide, but never at great momentum or speeds as can happen
    with sports that involve running such as football, baseball, soccer,
    hockey and basketball. Also, overuse injuries from highly repetitive
    motions such as pitching are virtually non-existent in youth wrestling
    because of the variety of movement, and there is no risk of injury from
    hard objects such as bats, sticks, balls or pucks. On the other hand,
    wrestlers are more susceptible to some communicable skin infections such
    as ringworm, but these incidents are quite rare, and can be prevented with
    the proper precautions, such as washing the mat and showering after
    practice.

Wrestling injuries can and do occur, but are more of a
factor at the collegiate and international levels where match intensity is much
higher. Most injuries occur during periods of horseplay or unsupervised
activities such as before or after practice or competition. Parents and coaches
can reduce this risk through proper planning and preparation.

Can wrestling have an effect on character development?

Success factors in sports, or anything for that matter, are
part God-given (i.e. height and size) and part acquired (i.e. endurance).
Success in wrestling depends most on acquired factors, and unlike most other
sports, wrestling does not favor athletes of any particular height, size,
weight, muscle type, race or social class, and does not rely on superior
vision or hearing.

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, which may have little if anything to do with sports.

Muscle types are categorized as fast-twitch and
slow-twitch. Fast-twitch muscle fibers deliver power, and are favored in
explosive sports such as football. Slow-twitch fibers are superior in endurance
activities such as long distance running. Training can compensate for some of
this difference, however, it's a known fact that the ratio of slow-twitch to
fast-twitch fibers varies from person to person, providing some with a
"natural" advantage over others in particular sports.

Would my child be required or expected to lose weight?

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.

Can wrestling be an aid in self-defense?

Who would win in a fight between a world-class boxer and a
black belt kung-fu expert? How about an NFL linebacker versus a world-renowned
jiu-jitsu champion? Opinions vary widely, but the truth of the matter is that
each sport, or self-defense discipline, offers its own unique advantages that
become more or less important depending on the situation. For example, boxing
skills are quite valuable in a fistfight, but are practically useless if
attacked from behind.

Most fight situations begin as a fistfight, but end up on
the ground in a grappling contest with the better wrestler being the victor.
Grappling, or wrestling skills, are actually more important in most self-defense
situations, than the ability to punch or kick. The highly controversial sport
of Ultimate Fighting proves this point.

Ultimate fighting, much like organized street fighting,
began in 1993 with contestants of virtually every discipline. More than thirty
forms of martial arts have been represented including everything from aikido to
wing chun kung fu. Win/loss statistics compiled since inception list wrestling
as the most effective discipline. Always able to take their opponent to the
ground and remain in control, wrestlers with no other martial arts training
fared extremely well against world renowned experts in Karate, Jiu-jitsu and
other similar martial arts disciplines. Although wrestlers are relatively rare
in the sport, past champions have included several excellent wrestlers such as
Dan Severn and Mark Shultz, whom easily won matches against much bigger and
stronger, internationally acclaimed martial arts champions.

Involvement in wrestling is a great way to build confidence
and the ability to defend one's self, without resorting to the violent tactics
inherent in most other forms of self-defense. Wrestling skills are an enormous
asset in a schoolyard brawl or even a street fight, however, wrestling's
non-violent nature does not prepare one for other aspects of self-defense such
as disabling or disarming an assailant.

Is wrestling only for boys?

In the 1970's and early 1980's, with the exception of a few
isolated incidents, wrestling was a male-only sport. Over the last ten years
female participation has increased to the point that it is not uncommon to find
girls participating in youth and high school programs. Women's divisions have
been created in U.S. and international freestyle competition, and some
tournaments are exclusively for women. Unlike Japan, where female participation
sometimes exceeds male participation, in the United States, there are still far
fewer girls than boys, however, female involvement is growing rapidly at all
levels.

Girls can benefit from wrestling just as boys can; however,
the social, mental and physical challenges can be much greater. In addition to
the normal challenges of the sport, a female wrestler may feel singled out if
she is the only girl on the team. Girls also face greater physical challenges.
Differences in strength can be minimal at young ages, but as children reach
puberty, boys typically gain a significant strength, advantage. Overcoming
these challenges requires great determination and mental toughness; however,
some girls have proven they can be successful competing against boys despite
these obstacles.

Parents with daughters willing to accept these challenges
should take the time to interview coaches and be sure they are satisfied with
the coaching staff's acceptance and effectiveness in integrating girls into the
program. If possible, it's best to select a team with other girls, or to join
with a girlfriend.

What forms of wrestling exist, and what avenues exist beyond the high
school and college levels?

Wrestling, like soccer, is an international sport, prevalent
in virtually every major country. It's also the oldest organized sport, and
dates back well over 5,000 years. Over time, many variations, such as sumo
wrestling, have developed in different parts of the world.

Wrestling in the United Stated is practiced in three styles:
folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman. Folkstyle, the predominant form of
scholastic wrestling in the United States, is found in our high schools,
colleges and clubs. This style is unique to the U.S. Rules are established by
the National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA] and the National Federation
of State High School Associations.

The other two styles, freestyle and Greco-Roman, are
practiced internationally, and are gaining popularity in the U.S. as we
continue to advance as a world wrestling power.

World and Olympic championships in Freestyle and GrecoRoman
wrestling are conducted by FILA, the international governing body responsible
for the administration and rule development of the sport. USA Wrestling
conducts annual regional and national tournaments in all three styles for male
and female wrestlers of all ages.

The differences between Freestyle, Folkstyle and Greco-Roman
are subtle to the novice observer, but rather significant to the wrestler.
There are differences in rules, scoring and strategy. Freestyle and Greco-Roman
focus more on wrestling from the feet. They are identical except that
Greco-Roman is limited to upper-body holds. Folkstyle, on the other hand,
places greater emphasis on establishing and maintaining control and involves
more mat wrestling.

Wrestlers advancing beyond the college level can compete in
Freestyle and/or GrecoRoman World and Olympic competition, however there is no
avenue to advance beyond that to a professional level. It's unrealistic for
wrestlers to fantasize about aspiring to the level of notoriety and fame
associated with other more popular sports, or to imagine themselves, one day
earning a living as a professional wrestler. Dan Gable, for example, is as much
of a legend in wrestling as Michael Jordan is with basketball, but Dan is
virtually unknown outside the wrestling community. It's not likely that
wrestling champions will ever come to be known for their achievements in the
sport.

General info

Folkstyle basics

Objective

The primary objective in folkstyle wrestling is to gain
control of your opponent and to ultimately pin your opponent by holding your
opponent with their back (both shoulder blades simultaneously) on the mat for a
period of at least two seconds.

Match 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 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 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.

Scoring

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.

Officials

Officiating is more objective than subjective in that it
does not require judging, as with sports such as gymnastics or figure skating.
However, situations can and do occur that are subject to interpretation. Those
situations most often involve out of bounds calls, determination of when/if
control is sufficient to award points, and determination of when/if stalling or
penalties apply.

Equipment

Basic wrestling equipment includes a 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.

Freestyle & greco-roman basics

Objective

The primary objective in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling
is much the same as with folkstyle, except that other factors are taken into
account such as the skill with which moves are executed, and the type of holds
that is used.

Match Basics

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling matches are condensed
into one or two periods, depending on the age group. Younger groups typically,
wrestle two ninety-second periods. Older groups wrestle one continuous
five-minute period. Periods always begin with both wrestlers in the neutral
position.

As with folkstyle wrestling, the match can be stopped short
of the time limit if either wrestler scores a pin or achieves technical
superiority, which in folkstyle and Greco-Roman wrestling is a lead of ten or
more points.

After a takedown situation in which both wrestlers continue
to wrestle down on the mat, known as the "par tarre" position, the
bottom wrestler is not obligated to work for an escape or reverse as with
folkstyle wrestling. Instead, it is the responsibility of the top wrestler to
work diligently to execute a hold that will expose their opponent's back. If
the top wrestler is not immediately (officials allow about fifteen seconds)
successful in doing this, the official will stop the match and re-start the
wrestlers on their feet in a neutral position.

Scoring

Control of one's opponent is less of a concern in freestyle
and Greco-Roman wrestling. Back points are awarded more freely in that it is
only necessary to turn your opponent's back within 90 degrees of the mat.
Takedowns, escapes and reversals are awarded one point, unless there is
exposure of the back, in which additional points are awarded.

Unlike folkstyle wrestling, it is not necessary to have
control in order to score back points. A wrestler in a defensive situation can
be awarded back points if their opponent's back makes contact with the mat in
executing an offensive move.

Other variations from folkstyle scoring include the
additional points that can be awarded for takedowns that result in back
exposure. "Grand Amplitude" holds, in which an opponent is lifted
from the mat and brought from a standing position directly to his or her back
are good for five points.

Sportsmanship

As with folkstyle wrestling, both freestyle and Greco-Roman
wrestling mandates sportsman-like conduct. In international competition,
wrestlers are required to shake hands with their opponent and with the referee
before and after the bout.

Officials

Officiating in freestyle and Greco-Roman is performed in teams
of one, two or three officials. When possible three officials are used. The
referee who stands on the mat and controls the action with his/her whistle is
assisted by a judge and a mat chairperson seated on opposite sides of the mat.
All scoring must be agreed upon by two of the three officials.

Equipment

FILA permits, but does not require, the use of headgear in
international freestyle and Greco-Roman competition. In addition, wrestlers are
required to wear either red or blue singlets, depending on their match pairing.
Other than that, the equipment is identical to that used with folkstyle
wrestling.

The wrestling season

The wrestling season for folkstyle wrestling begins in
November and runs until March. The freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling season
begins in March and runs through July. School programs, being folkstyle, follow
the winter schedule. Clubs vary, depending on their orientation, although some
clubs practice throughout the year and compete in all styles.

The wrestling season can be organized differently, depending
on whether your child is participating in a school program or an independent
club. School sponsored wrestling typically involves after-school practice
sessions with weekly meets and tournaments. Meets involve matches between the
starting wrestlers from each of the two or more schools. Standard weight
classes apply to all teams and competitions. Competition exists within teams
for starting positions.

Some school systems only offer wrestling at the high school
level, however, private wrestling clubs can provide opportunities to
participate at younger ages.

Wrestling clubs typically hold practices two or three times
per week and have anywhere from a few, to more than 100 wrestlers ranging in
age from 4 to 14. Club participants do not compete for starting positions on
the team. In most situations, tournaments are open to all members.

Club and tournament operation typically conform to
guidelines of an affiliated state wrestling program. For example, most kids
wrestling clubs in Wisconsin belong to the WWF (Wisconsin Wrestling Federation)
which provides everything from insurance to state tournament competition,
resulting in a high standard of organization, consistency and safety throughout
the state.

Tournaments

Wrestlers of all ages can compete in weekly season
tournaments held in most metropolitan areas throughout the United States.
Tournament competition is organized by weight and age. Typical age brackets,
for example, are as follows: 8 and Under, 9 & 10, 11 & 12, and 13 &
14. Weight classes are either predetermined, or blocked into groups of 4 or 8
after all wrestlers have weighed in.

Most school-sponsored tournaments are held on Saturdays.
Most club-sponsored tournaments during the school season are held on Sundays
because officials are busy with school tournaments. Wrestling tournaments can
last for 4 to 6 hours, and can involve as many as 200 to 600
participants." Depending on the team schedule, there can be as many as ten
or more tournaments throughout the season, some of which can be as far as
several hours away.

Registration is usually taken in advance, however, wrestlers
can sometimes register at the door when capacity has not been met. Mandatory
weigh-ins are most often held the morning of the tournament approximately 1 to
2 hours before the first round of competition. At weigh-in, wrestlers' weights,
ages and experience levels are recorded on slips of paper that are used to form
brackets. Some tournaments have pre-determined weight classifications, and
brackets are formed within those classifications.

A completed bracket sheet will show specific parings for
each match. After each round, bracket sheets are updated to show parings for
the following round. Winners continue to advance, while those that loose are
typically eligible for "wrestle backs" in competition for third or
fifth.

Four-man brackets are common with 8 and under age groups,
and eight-man brackets are most common for older age groups. There is usually a
30 to 60 minute period before the tournament begins, when wrestlers can warm up
and locate their bracket Wrestlers typically wrestle two to four matches in any
one tournament; however, it's possible in some situations to wrestle more.
Tournaments are organized in rounds, allowing wrestlers sufficient time to rest
between matches. Before each round, pairings are determined, using result of
the previous round, and wrestlers are called to a staging area or "bull
pen". Wrestlers are then escorted to the mat by bracket, as mat space
becomes available. Some tournaments call wrestlers to the mat by name instead
of using the "bull pen" staging method.

Tournament regulations usually limit the number of coaches
allowed to coach from the edge of the mat. A referee starts and stops the
match, awarding points when appropriate. When the match is over, wrestlers
shake hands and return to their coaches. In some cases, winners must sign the
score card at the scoring table. Trophies or metals are awarded for 1st, 2nd,
3rd and 4th , and sometimes 5th and 6th , after all matches in their bracket
have been completed. Awards are sometimes presented at the scoring table
immediately after the match, or as announced from the head table. Wrestlers are
free to leave after awards are presented, unless there are team activities for
which they need to be present.

Some kids tournaments exceed 600 participants. The Illinois
Kids Open, for example, has drawn over 1,600 participants, making it one of the
largest one-day sporting events.

History and fame

Wrestling has a fascinating history with deep roots in
virtually every major culture on the planet. Evidence found throughout the
world indicates that wrestling is without question the oldest sport ever
practiced. Cave drawings and carvings located in France dating back fifteen
thousand years show evidence of an early form of competitive wrestling.

Wrestling was later popular in Greek and Egyptian culture,
and is prevalent in the architecture of many temples and tombs. Match results
are recorded in Japan dating back to the year 22 BC. Wrestling was also a
common element of Native American culture prior to the arrival of European
settlers.

Although even the most accomplished wrestlers receive little
if any public notoriety, quite a few famous people began their lifetime of
achievement on the wrestling mat. A stroll through the National Wrestling Hall
of Fame in Stillwater Oklahoma offers the surprising discovery that, many
historical and current day prominent people were once wrestlers. A partial list
includes:

U.S. Presidents -
George Washington, Zachary Taylor, William
Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant,
and Chester A. Arthur.
Several well-known Congressmen, Senators, and other
Statesmen and Military leaders
including General Norman Schwarzkoph
Several Scientists
including Benjamin Franklin and Nobel
prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug.
Several well known actors
including Tom Cruise, Tony Danza,
Kirk Douglas and Robin Williams.

The coach's role

An effective coaching staff is essential in helping kids
derive the greatest benefit from their involvement in the sport. Coaches need
to be effective in planning, organizing and running practice sessions, and
coaching mat-side during competition. They are also called upon in a host of
other related activities, but most importantly, coaches should strive to create
and maintain an environment in which the champion in every child can blossom.

It is the coach's responsibility to provide opportunities
for growth, achievement and excellence that can lead to success on and off the
mat. A good wrestling coach is effective in preparing his wrestlers for the
challenges of competition and is able to instill positive values such as goal
setting and self-discipline, while maintaining a high degree of enjoyment and
fulfillment for the wrestlers.

In addition, coaches must be perceptive, flexible and
creative enough to address individual needs. In summary, the coach should be a
person wrestlers trust, look up to, learn from, and rely on for support. This
is certainly a tall order given personal limitations and other commitments most
coaches face. It is more practical however, for these virtues to be present
collectively within a coaching staff.

The parent's role

Wrestling can be relatively demanding, not only for the
wrestler, but also for the parent. Wrestling clubs typically hold practice
sessions two, and sometimes three times per week, in the evening, after the
high school practice is over. Many open tournaments during the school wrestling
season are held on Sundays, which may conflict with other family plans, but at
a minimum require a good deal of preparation, driving and patience.

Some tournaments are a good distance from home, and usually
require an early start. There are other responsibilities as well, ranging from
fund raising activities to helping with tournaments or participating in other
team activities. The parent's role, however, extends beyond such tasks. Matches
and practice sessions offer new and unique learning opportunities for young
athletes. Involved parents spot these opportunities and make the most of them.

Most importantly, kids need support and encouragement. They
need to be able to stake claim to something positive about themselves that they
can build from in developing self-confidence. Parents can facilitate this
process by identifying and reinforcing strengths while helping their child to
see past their weaknesses. Your positive reinforcement as a perceptive and
caring parent can be the single most significant influence in your child's
athletic development and personal growth. A famous Lao-tsu quote sums it up
like this...

"To see things in the seed, that is Genius."

Here's some additional do's and don'ts:

  • Don't impose your ambitions or expectations on your child. Remember that
    wrestling is your child's activity. Improvements and progress occur at
    different rates for each individual. Don't judge your child's progress
    based on the performance of other athletes and don't push them based on
    what you think they should be doing.
  • Be supportive no matter what. There is only one question to ask your child,
    "Did you have fun?" If meets and practices are not fun you
    should not force them to participate.
  • Do not coach your child. Your job is to support, love and hug your child no
    matter what. Conflicting advice and criticism work against the coach's
    efforts and only serve to confuse and demotivate your child. If you feel
    you have the experience and ability to contribute to the team as a coach,
    volunteer your services through the proper channels.
  • Get involved. Your club needs your help and support. Attend parent and club
    meetings to find out how you can help. And most importantly, show your
    child that you care by attending as many meets and tournaments as
    possible.
  • Acknowledge your child's fears. Their opponents appear to be much more intimidating
    through their eyes than through the eyes of a grown-up. Consider their
    perspective and don't expect them to compete with the confidence and
    mental toughness of a seasoned expert.
  • Do not criticize the officials. Unless you have been there, you have no idea how
    challenging officiating can be. Expect that in some matches your child
    could lose as a result of an error on the part of an official or score
    keeper. That's life. Help your child to understand that the official does
    their best to score the match fairly, and that it is important that we
    respect the ruling of the officials regardless of how we feel about the
    situation.

USA Wrestling and your club

Please Note: The St. Elizabeth's Vikings Wrestling team is notan official USA Wrestling affiliate. This information was a part of the original
document, and is included in the interest of completeness
.

USA Wrestling supports and promotes amateur wrestling at all
levels from youth programs to international and Olympic competition. USAW
provides services to wrestling clubs and their individual participants, either
directly, or through state organizations, fulfilling a variety of important
needs.

USA Wrestling Mission Statement

USA Wrestling, as the National Governing Body for wrestling
in the United States, shall responsibly advocate, promote, coordinate and
provide opportunities for amateur wrestlers to achieve their full human and
athletic potential.

Coaches Education and Certification

Wrestling plays an important role in the education and
training of wrestling coaches throughout the United States. USA Wrestling's
coaching education program offers training and certification for coaches of all
levels from club coaches to Olympic coaches.

There are four levels of certification offered through
USAW's National Coaches Education Program (NCEP); Copper, Bronze, Silver and
Gold. The Copper Level program is designed for parents and club coaches, and
the Bronze Level is a prerequisite for the Silver and Gold Levels required for
coaching at the highest levels of competition.

Copper Level certification is mandatory for coaching
mat-side at any USA Wrestling Regional and National Events. It is also the
starting level for the beginning or part-time volunteer coach. This program is
four hours long and covers wrestling and coaching basics. The Copper course
uses materials from ACEP and the Rookie Coaches Wrestling Guide book, and can
be offered locally at the club level. The cost is generally about $25. Contact
USA Wrestling or your State Chairperson for more information.

Bronze Level certification is needed to proceed to the
silver and gold levels. It is ten hours in duration and covers material for the
advanced volunteer or the professional coach. This course is the minimum
requirement to enter the National Coaching Pool. It includes four hours of
wrestling technique and the book Coach's Guide to Excellence.

Liability and Sports Accident Insurance

USA Wrestling chartered clubs, directors, volunteers, and
membership programs include this valuable asset for your club and members.

USA Wrestler

The official publication of USA Wrestling is sent to all
members of USA Wrestling six times a year. This feature-packed publication
appeals to wrestlers of all age groups, providing tournament listings,
wrestling tips and technique, kid's perspectives and tournament results
throughout the year. USA Wrestling is the wrestling publication for any
wrestler, parent or fan.

National Competition

Membership in USA Wrestling provides opportunities for
wrestlers to participate in National Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman age
group championships. Your state and club representatives can provide
information about participation in these events.

Olympic Involvement

Youth involvement serves as the grassroots foundation for
wrestling at all levels throughout the United States. USA Wrestling not only
serves the needs of youth clubs, but also organizes and conducts World and
Olympic competitions and has been instrumental in positioning the USA as a
world wrestling powerhouse.

For more information about USA Wrestling programs and events
see your club representative or contact USA Wrestling at 719-598-8181.

About the author

Bill Campbell is an avid wrestling fan and coach, and
president of Young Champions, a youth wrestling organization located in
Wauconda, Illinois. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

USA Wrestling

6155 Lehman Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-3439
719-598-8181 719-598-9440 (fax)
http://www.usawrestling.org/http://www.themat.com/ for all your wrestling news
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