TMWC youth wrestling coach Jordin Humphrey
works with youth wrestlers at this year’s Mr. Olympia
Five Unique Benefits of Youth Wrestling
By Jonny Ruggiano
If you step into a youth wrestling room you might be greeted kids running all over the mats, tumbling, bouncing off of the walls all the while throwing each other around. As a parent new to wrestling, you might be a bit overwhelmed. However after a sharp blow of the whistle by coach you would be greeted by a quickly transformed environment of elite youth contact combat athletes ready to harness their daily skills.
By far the most important questions for parents stem from the idea of what will lead their child onto a path of success. Parents often obsess about their child one day becoming a successful business leader, or a dedicated civil servant or even an amazing artist such as an actor or musician. Parents might even hope one day their child becomes the President of the United States. As cliche’ as it might seem, we all desire to see our next generation thrive greater and bolder than ourselves. We want our offspring to be of the greatest character.
The sports arena serves as the great developer of character
Sport has played an integral part in the development of our youth since the dawn of civilization, however the sport of wrestling offers unique benefits that encapsulate all of the essential elements for a successful life. For the millions of individuals that have participated in wrestling, whether as a youth wrestler or even up to the highest levels, there is an elevated aura of confidence, commitment, and contentment that goes along with being a wrestler.
If you want your child to become a well rounded, successful adult someday then get them into wrestling.
The question remains: how is it that wrestlers become so confident and successful? below is a breakdown of just 5 of the many unique benefits of youth wrestling on the development of an individual.
1. Wrestling is a lifestyle far more than a mere sport
While many sports teach essential lessons and morals to its athletes, the sport of wrestling offers and way to govern one’s life. From the early stages of wrestling development students learn that playing can transform into something productive. As a new wrestler learning the techniques of wrestling, which begin as relatively natural movements soon evolve into complete maneuvers. Along with the evolution of technique comes the priority of a balanced diet. In wrestling a healthy diet is closely tied to weigh ins. Wrestlers are required to make weight before competition, which reinforces the importance of healthy dietary choices. Furthermore cardio vascular exercise is essential for competitive endurance. All of these elements breed a very healthy person.
One of the other lifestyle components is the academic element. Wrestlers quickly become “students of the sport.” As one of the oldest sports known to man, wrestling has consistently evolved throughout the ages. In this, wrestlers have been offered a sport in which they become life long learners.
In the U.S. along we can recognize a progressive development of the sport from one generation to another. In the 70’s Dan Gable’s philosophy of outworking your opponent hallmarked the nation’s perspective of wrestling. In the late 80’s John Smith revolutionized the sport with new technique: the low single. the 90’s found a merger of these two styles and philosophies, which yielded one of the most prosperous eras of the sport. Then came the time of Cael Sanderson where tactical wrestling became more of a key point. Today U.S. wrestling has transformed from our leaders such as Jordan Burroughs, Helen Maroulis and Kyle Snyder. The beauty lies in the on-going need for wrestlers to learn, which is parallel to the same lesson in life. In order to have a fulfilling and happy life humans want to grown and learn as much as they possibly can.
There is also a distinct culture in wrestling that promotes being part of a community of like-minded individuals who strive to be the best. This is elaborated on further in the next section.
2. There is a dual team lesson taught in wrestling: independence while being a team player
When a wrestler competes they are alone. A wrestler is solely responsibly for the actions and choices in a match which offers them the chance to learn and grow independence. Unlike other individual sports, wrestlers can wrestle anywhere from 30 plus matches in a season. While a new wrestler might start off only wrestling one season a year, elite wrestlers find opportunities to wrestle year round in a variety of styles. This concentration of competition fuels the opportunity to constantly evaluate performance, develop strategies to succeed: basically to learn from both mistakes and successes. Wrestling as an individual on the mat also allows a wrestler to prioritize what they need to improve on. A wrestler is constantly offered opportunities for self improvement and independence while on the mat, as well as in the practice room, and most important when they are alone and no one is looking.
While wrestlers have the sole responsibility of their actions in competitions, it’s their dedication towards excellence that ties into being a team player. Whether at a dual or a tournament, a wrestler’s performance is counted into the team’s overall points. Unlike in team sports, where an athlete might miss a catch or not block their opponent, wrestling tallies up the individual efforts of all its team members to finalize the score of an event. All through team competitions the aim is perfection for all members.
With that being said wrestling attracts highly committed and hard working individuals. The sport’s culture has established an environment for character builders. Like minded individuals come together in this sport to help motivate each other. Its common to see a wrestling team continuously raise the bar because and one strives for greatness others find it infectious.
3. The kinesiology of wrestling helps improve flexibility, mobility and strength
The old saying, “healthy body, healthy mind” plays a major role a person’s happiness. For youth wrestlers, this is foundational. wrestling epitomizes this philosophy. As a wrestler learns the sport, they are placed in complex kinesthetic situations, where mind and body converge. Wrestlers are constantly having to find ways to manipulate their opponent’s position to their benefit, and in doing so they too often have to adhere to challenging positions.
Perhaps one of the most immediate and essential benefits of wrestling is the fact that wrestling creates healthy, powerful and versatile athletes. The reason for this is based upon the variety of exercises that are incorporated into the sport. Instead of specializing on a sport that eventually deteriorates a person’s body, wrestling promotes flexibility, mobility and strength through its practice. Even more beneficial is the correlation that wrestling has for other sports: football being one of the primary. As wrestlers learn to move and control their opponent and their own body, they also learn safe practices for throwing, lifting, tackling and pinning their adversary.
4. Humility in wrestling advances self confidence
Wrestling has been called a monastic sport; one with little recognition. While the media attention for the sport has grown considerably throughout the years, wrestling still breeds a humble and confident individual. The reason for this is highly due to the fact that only a small percentage of the work that it takes for a wrestler to be their best is recognized in plain site. Wrestlers have to be great time managers and dietitians. Many wrestlers will get up early in the morning for a run prior to school or work, finish off their day, train in the evening and then go to the gym to get an additional workout in. For those youth wrestlers who aim to earn a scholarship, they also have to maintain a rigorous academic schedule in order to further their careers in college. While doing all of this, only a small percentage of its merit is recognized. This diligence and focus on the final reward yields a humble athlete who strives from self improvement as the main objective.
5. Wrestling is an art form
While wrestling falls into the realm of sport, it also teaches kids how to create solutions to problems, how to mold and manipulate subject matter (their opponent being it’s subject). Furthermore a wrestler learns that they can constantly create new tactics and techniques to create their own style of wrestling. This aspect of wresting its essential to child development as it helps kids become great problem solvers; a key ingredient to any successful individual. What’s great about wrestling is that it teaches kids that the possibilities are endless and there are multiple ways to be successful. A wrestler is much like an artist who paints their own composition on canvas. Wrestlers create their own masterpiece as they step upon the mat.
There are far too many benefits to count in regards to how wrestling helps kids become successful adults. The virtues instilled in wrestlers are vital to a well balanced person. While not everyone is blessed to come from a family of wrestlers, the sport its self welcomes all and serves everyone to same opportunities. If you are a parent looking to find the perfect source of development for your child, I would suggest the wrestling room.