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Is youth wrestling dangerous?

Last Updated: 05.07.22


With brands like World Wrestling Entertainment bringing this sport to audiences worldwide, there has been a surge of children wanting to get into the gym to become the next John Cena. Therefore, things like kids’ wrestling shoes have become very interesting for mothers all around the world.


How safe is it?

Like all sports, wrestling has a risk of injury associated with it. It has more injuries than, say, tennis or swimming but most injuries are minor by comparison to basketball or hockey. It is true that your child will get bumps, bruises or mat burns but he will never be asked to wrestle if he is hurt or not feeling well.

Wrestlers who are thrown can always hurt their backs, especially if the mats have improper cushioning. Now that the headgear has become mandatory though, the risk of permanent damage or head injuries has been seriously lowered. However, the probability of infections still remains quite high because the athletes are constantly thrown against each other or the mat.



What should parents know?

Perhaps due to wrestling not being as popular as team sports like basketball or baseball, there’s a myriad of misconceptions about it, which parents should be able to see through, in order to not worry about their child.

First of all, actual wrestling is nothing like we see on TV. Companies like the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) place heavy importance on the last word in their name, so even though their athletes are still phenomenal, the whole act is a show designed to entertain.

Actual wrestling is conducted on a mat with special gear, regulation shoes, and knee pads. The youths are observed by a referee at all times, making this one of the more closely regulated sports in the world. Furthermore, if the WWE emphasizes acrobatic moves like jumping from the ropes, the real wrestlers focus much more on their ground moves, made from the mat.


Evolution over the years

It is good to remember that as the children get older, the injury risk increases. Since they are bigger, stronger and better at forcing their opponents down, one wrong landing can cause an acute injury. Unlike runners who usually experience repetitive, overuse injuries, the children can pinpoint exactly when and how they get hurt.

Careful observation from the parents is also required when it comes to maintaining weight. Since opponents need to be in the same weight class, wrestlers might feel under pressure and resort to skipping meals, taking laxatives or using tracksuits to sweat more.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no guarantee that successful young athletes will go on making a career out of this. There are many examples of early wrestling sensations who were swept under the pressure and chose to take a different career path.

The important thing to remember is that good preparation and coaching can help diminish a lot of the risks associated with amateur wrestling. However, due to the mental strain imposed on the athletes, parents should be mindful of suspicious behavior and consult with a doctor or a coach any time they feel it is necessary.


The psychological side of things

Even though it is wise for parents and coaches to emphasize winning, the mental side of wrestling requires at least as much preparation as the physical one. Because the effort put forth in practice is directly reflected in the competition and not lost in a team sport, many young athletes may be strongly affected by losing.

The good news is that when compared to any other sport, wrestling does have an actual skill curve. Athleticism is not as important as hard work, dedication and actual love for the sport. So when your young one gets pinned next time, comfort him with the news that more work is sure to award better results.

Even better, you don’t have to be scared that children who practice wrestling will not develop social skills due to it being a singles sport. These young athletes train, sweat and sometimes cry on that mat, forming a team bond that is hard to find in other sports.



At the end of the day

Youth wrestling is, in the end, as dangerous as any sport practiced by children can be. There will be high points and there will be low points, so here are a few key ideas that you can use to determine whether wrestling will be the next sport your little one will try.

Wrestling offers no entitlement to its practitioners. Because the only thing that matters is that moment in the match, youth wrestlers learn self-reliance, self-trust and an inner confidence that will serve them well in their daily life challenges.

Youth wrestlers learn to respect each other. Since a great deal of effort goes into a wrestling season, the children understand this and will often form bonds and friendships that last outside the mat as well. Wrestling teaches athletes how to work through blackened eyes or twisted joints but, learned early on, that can often be a blessing in disguise.

Don’t confuse being a parent with being a coach. Even if you are his personal coach you are a parent first, so make sure to always prioritize giving them moral support after a tough loss. Offer some coaching tips if they miss something then put the parent hat back on and love them. Praise their efforts, not their results, and they will be mentally strong no matter the outcome.



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