Kids play sports for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re just athletic and think its fun; they want to emulate their favorite pro player and dream of being a pro themselves one day; they enjoy the attention that goes along with being an athlete or maybe they crave the social aspect of being part of a team. Yes, and even because they’re pushed into it because of their parents. But they all play for a reason. So what might a kid who joins the wrestling team be looking for? It might be any of the reasons above, or they maybe they want…
- To become stronger, more powerful and the most physically fit athletes in the school.
- They want to lose weight and increase mental toughness.
- They want to learn self-defense and gain the confidence that goes along with it.
- They want to wrestle in college and maybe earn a wrestling scholarship.
Understand what it takes to be a good wrestler and learn the basics of weight management and proper nutrition. There’s a difference to just being on the wrestling team and becoming progressively better at it. First, unless you enjoy getting beat up a lot, you’re going to eventually get tired of losing and make a commitment to yourself to get better.
And to get better, you will have to learn more than just getting better at executing wrestling moves. You need to adopt some form of weight training, understand the importance of safe and effective ways to lose weight, stay hydrated and eat right.
Get a physical and sign up for the wrestling team. For wrestling, just like every other high school or junior high sport in the country, you’ll need to get clearance to participate from your pediatrician. Most kids are cleared for wrestling unless they’re victims of serious medical problems. If you sign on for the team, you will need a physical.
Start wrestling before high school. Depending on the athlete and their baseline athletic ability, it takes about two to four years of wrestling before you’re ready to wrestle at a competitive level in high school.
Most schools with a high school wrestling team have junior high school programs. Although wrestlers may start as young as five or six years old, many wrestlers have gone on to great heights in the sport even though they didn’t start wrestling until junior high.
Cael Sanderson, the undefeated 4-time NCAA Champ and Olympic gold medalist, didn’t start wrestling until the 7th grade. Junior high programs are designed to introduce wrestling to younger athletes, get them excited about the sport and prepare them for high school competition.
Talk to the wrestling coach. The high school coach can give you an idea of what he expects from his high school athletes. He can also shed some light on the interest, size and intensity of the program. Some schools have very competitive teams with multiple athletes competing for the starting spots, while others are not quite as intense.
Get involved with the wrestling team and wrestle in the off-season. Most coaches are active with their teams even during the off-season by attending camps and off-season tournaments. Even if your coach isn’t actively involved, I recommend that you participate in these off-season adventures as it will make you a better wrestler and demonstrate to the coach that you are highly motivated.
Wrestle Junior Varsity to start. Making the high school wrestling team at places like Easton, Pennsylvania or Brandon, Florida High School is a lot different than trying to make the wrestling team at many of the smaller suburban high schools around the country.
Competitive high school wrestling teams like the ones mentioned above are breeding grounds for the elite high school wrestlers being recruited by the top NCAA wrestling programs.
Unlike the less competitive programs out there, where you may wrestle for the Varsity team as a freshman, you may not break into the starting lineup until your Junior or Senior year in high school at some of the best schools. There’s nothing wrong with cutting your teeth on the JV squad, especially if you’re wrestling JV for one of these top high school programs.
More important than anything I mentioned here, keep in mind that it’s just a sport and should be fun and enjoyable.
Section One Wrestling.com has more information for anyone interested in amateur and high school wrestling.