If your kid is interested in wrestling all of a sudden, you need to be supportive, and one thing, to begin with, is to get him the right gear. Does he/she need special wrestling shoes? Do you also need to look for lace guards? What about the knee pads? Are they mandatory? If you’ve already lost in translation, don’t lose hope. Scroll down for the details.
First things first…
Luckily for you, your offspring is going to need little to no gear in the beginning. There’s a trial period (2 weeks or so) when some shorts, some tight gym shoes, and a plain t-shirt are going to do it. To give you a clearer idea, you should stay away from shoes with snaps, hooks, zippers, or buttons. Unlike other sports, clothes should be slightly tight than loose.
Once the trial period is over…go shopping
It’s a good idea to sit down and have a talk with your kid and see if he/she is still into it. If so, his trainer is going to have a say in the gear you need to buy.
However, you should do some planning so check out the list we’ve prepared for you:
Once the trial period is over, you can no longer postpone the buying of headgear. It’s around $20-40 (the quality matters). You can find basic models for excellent prices. Despite the name, headgear is meant to protect the ears and not so much the head.
Headgear is made for lowering the risk of cauliflower ear. Even if your kid is far away from getting it (it’s only a matter of time in professional wrestling), some programs are going to require headgear, so it’s better to get it. The styles are numerous and various, each presenting ups and downs. You should find the time and do due diligence about it. Some experts say that headgear isn’t going to make a difference in safety or performance.
You want the headgear to provide a snug fit, with an opening that is big enough to help the head fit through. You don’t wish to the headgear to slip down over the ears and end up covering the eyes of your kid in the middle of the competition. Avoid the headgear that features space between the top and the rear straps. Make sure that they’re short enough so that the gear fits down over your kid’s head.
When your kid has long hair, you also need to get a “hair slicker.” It’s a hair net that is supposed to work together with the headgear.
As for the headgear with faceguards or masks, they’re not used very often. They’re an excellent choice when wrestling with a face injury.
Which type of shoes does a wrestler need?
When your kid has his mind set out on wrestling, you should make an effort and buy wrestling shoes. You can also find some used shoes that are good quality and make a correct choice until you’re able to buy the real deal.
You’re going to find out that wrestling shoes are pricier than regular athletic shoes- it’s because there aren’t many wrestlers out there.
Good wrestling shoes are going to stay on no matter the movements during the wrestling match. Just like headgear, no wrestling shoes is going to make one better wrestler. At the same time, a lousy pair of shoes can ruin one’s performance for merely falling off or not staying tight. Traction is essential, but the majority of wrestling shoes provide enough traction.
The split sole is a rather new feature, and it matters for the flexibility. It’s easier the bend the foot in (and not the knee J)thanks to this feature.
Another concern is the laces as they may untie too often and stress the wrestler. Many tournaments require the laces to be covered though and many new models have this particularity. You can use some athletic tape around the ankle for covering the laces just before the practice or the competition.
Long story short, don’t buy shoes that are too big for your kid (thinking that they’re going to fit him next year also). Loose wrestling shoes are going to hurt his/her performance.
Are the singlets mandatory?
Singlets aren’t essential for practice, and only competitions are going to require the singlets. T-shirt and gym shorts are going to be more than enough for training.
When your kid has been wrestling for some time now, free SWC singlets for the tournaments are going to do it. As he/she advances, you should buy the “cool” singlets for the competitions.
What about the knee pads?
The knee pads count a lot for the knee motion, helping the wrestler slide against the mat a lot easier. Some wrestling moves are more comfortable to do when wearing knee pads.
Many kids are going to want knee pads because all the other kids do (what better reason?). Besides, many think that they’re going to score more takedowns thanks to the kneepads.
If you cannot say “no,” you should focus on the fit. The kneepads have to be tight enough to stay in place during the practice/competition, but you don’t want it to impede the performance in any way either.
What happens in practice?
A good wrestling coach is going to try his/her best to make the whole experience enjoyable and fun for your kid, without ever letting him give up and not give the best.
Young wrestlers put on some t-shirts and cozy athletic shorts (no pockets). Wrestling shoes are essential. No matter how comfortable the street shoes may be, your kid isn’t allowed to take them on the wrestling mat. It’s not only for the performance but also for hygienic reasons. Keeping the carpet clean is essential too.
Warm-up conditioning exercises (running, stretching, crunches, and some push-ups) give the first part of the practice. The coach is going to continue with demonstrations for various techniques and practicing the moves with a partner, whereas very kid works in pair with another kid (similar weight and level of skills) for practicing the moves. Games or live wrestling may also be part of a practice.
Wrestlers are expected to listen and act so that they don’t disturb the other wrestlers or the coaches.
What happens during a Youth wrestling tournament?
If your kid is determined enough and he goes on a tournament, kudos for both of you. It’s going to be organized chaos, with lots of people, loud kids and plenty of noise.
The wrestlers are grouped by grade and weight (the level of experience matters as well in some tournaments). It’s a 4-man round-robin format. It is typical for the wrestling tournaments. The grouping is commonly known as the bracket.
High school students and volunteer parents are going to help a lot too, with the school wrestlers acting as referees.
Some tournaments only allow the coaches to watch mat side and not the parents too, so don’t act surprised.
Best of luck!