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Louden

Starting Wrestling too young...

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I came across this article by Cary Kolat.  In it he discusses kids wrestling too young.  This is likely to be a controversial topic with hard opinions, so chime in and let us know what you think:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cary_Kolat

Quote

Kids burning out in the sport of wrestling has been a debate since before kids even began specializing.  To steal a line from my favorite TV show S.O.A. (Son's of Anarchy), "What's the End Game?"  

To be brief lets say the end game is the World or Olympic stage.  This easily could be pages of debate and I expect I will probably receive comments asking questions but competing too soon is the number one problem in my opinion.

Simply put if you start wrestling at 5 years old and have much success the odds are you won't make it to college level wrestling.  Forget about the world stage because you probably won't be around.  Pretty much every athlete is dealing with different types of outside and internal pressure when competing.  Those pressures come in the form of other athletes catching up, family pressure, making weight, balancing school, and I can go on.

How long before that wrestler says to himself, "this is just not fun to me any longer?"  If you start early then dealing with this pressure naturally begins.  Those 5 year old wrestlers by the time they graduate high school have been dealing with it for approximately 15 years.

College begins another level of competing and a whole new level of pressure, the athletes you face are just better.  Nothing will ever be easy again at that level, and many just say I'm done leaving the sport.

Those who start in 7th, 8th, even 9th grade are just starting to get competitive and still have a love for wrestling.  They are less likely to fizzle out because they have not dealt with the outside and internal influences as long as the 5 year old still trying to keep going.  They have the greatest chance of reaching the top level of our sport.

Little kid titles are good for a short confidence boost but that is about all it's worth.  Find the boost from other places before putting him in a singlet thinking that is the answer.  Wrestling is so different than other sports it's fun, but at the same time not fun if another human being is dominating you.

There are rule breakers to every theory and some will start at 5 and be successful but you can't use them as a guide.  I see all these rankings for kids at age 8 nationally and I shake my head because 95% of them will not make it past high school.

https://www.kolat.com/blog/we-compete-to-soon

What say you?

Edited by Louden

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I know this might not be a popular opinion on the youth forum, but this is absolutely an issue.  Adults pushing their children into sport and living vicariously through them.  You should let the kid be your guide into how much they want to pursue it.  So much as to let it be their idea.  Don't ask them if they want to wrestle.  If that is something that appeals to them, they will bring it up.  Then, be fans.  Let someone else coach them and cheer from the stands.  Nothing quite as disgusting as walking into a gym and seeing moms and dads screaming mat side.  I saw somewhere where Spencer lee's dad made the comment to the effect of it being the child's sport, not the parents'.  This is a huge issue in youth sports today.

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Parents pushing their kids "too hard" is an issue throughout all sports, including wrestling.  I'm not sure there's a "one-size-fits-all" rule as to when you should start your child.  Knowing what's best for your individual child is a parent's job.  Some parents lose sight of what's best for the child and delve into more self-serving methods.  At the same time, there are young prodigies who may benefit from the competition that comes with wrestling at Tulsa Nationals at 10 or 11 years old.  I'm not sure where you could definitively draw a line.  I certainly don't agree that no kid should start wrestling until 7th grade at the earliest.  For some that's best, but not for all.

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I absolutely agree with what you are saying.  I think we can all agree that the VAST majority (and probably all if we are being honest without ourselves) of 5 year olds do not have the emotional capacity to deal with getting physically dominated and beat up by a peer.

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I wish that they would just get rid of the 6 and under division.  I advise any parents looking to start their kids to wait until they are either 8 or 10.

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I have no problem with kids learning the sport at that age if that's what they really want to do.  Actual tournament competition is another story.

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39 minutes ago, Lalum said:

I have no problem with kids learning the sport at that age if that's what they really want to do.  Actual tournament competition is another story.

I once saw a coach question a kid's "heart" at a little league tournament. The kid couldn't have been older than 8. I was appalled. 

 

We place far too much emphasis on winning at an early age.  Skills based learning is the most important thing at an early age. 

Edited by Warren Haynes
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1 hour ago, Warren Haynes said:

I once saw a coach question a kid's "heart" at a little league tournament. The kid couldn't have been older than 8. I was appalled. 

 

We place far too much emphasis on winning at an early age.  Skills based learning is the most important thing at an early age. 

Yeah, that is the formula for longevity in a sport

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I think it all depends.

It seems to me that it is far easier to see when a parent/coach is doing something wrong than it is to see when they're doing something right.  The circumstances vary between each child and family.  I've observed fathers who push their little kid hard without ever offering a compliment or praise, even when the child seeks it. I've also seen fathers so aloof and uninvolved that their kid was making the most basic of mistakes (like stance or offering any resistance when going live) for months on end without ever showing the slightest improvement.  (Coach can't do it all).

There doesn't seem to be a perfect way of doing it.  

It seems to me that in Youth Wrestling burn out is a common issue.  I remember wrestlers that had a lot of natural talent at the youth level but either quit before High School or made it a year or two in and then quit.  Attempting to navigate that as a parent can be difficult, and often some kids respond differently than even their own siblings might to encouragement or pressure.

If I had to wager, I would say that kids who are ridden like horses throughout their youth years without any real communication/feedback allowed will experience a higher percentage of burn out than those who are enjoying it and are involved in an active conversation with their parents about wrestling.  The youngest kids do what they're told and don't often question.  As kids age they are going to start exploring in their minds what it is that they are doing and what they want.  If wrestling has been nothing but misery it's going to be hard for that kid to find reasons to stick it out for the long haul, unless that kid has parents who are willing to listen to them and guide them.

On 4/9/2019 at 8:44 AM, Warren Haynes said:

I once saw a coach question a kid's "heart" at a little league tournament. The kid couldn't have been older than 8. I was appalled. 

Yikes!  Not cool.

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