10 Ways to Get Your Kid Hooked on Wrestling (and be GOOD at it too!)

1. Get them ready for the sport by using a slow foundational progression at home. Note: if your child isn’t used to physical play wrestling is gonna be a hard sell. Dads – your job is to start this when they’re young. You’ll know when they’re ready by their behavior. The next part is to educate your wife about why this is necessary and that your son will be much better for it as a grown up.images
2. Find a good coach and club. Lots of parents want their kids with their friends. I get that, it’s part of having fun, which is the number one reason kids play sports. That said there are so many poor coaches that its worth looking around. Good clubs make wrestling practice fun and positive. Wrestlers make friends so quickly that going out of your school district shouldn’t stop you. Poor coaches and clubs = no fun, don’t build the mind or body, focus on winning vs. best efforts, only focus on a few of the wrestlers and can turn kids off permanently. Get your youth wrestler hooked on the sport with fun, quality coaching. Peaking at 6-11 years of age isn’t a good long-term strategy. In my experience puberty is the great accelerator. If they like the sport and have a good foundation they can take off quickly from there.
3. Don’t confuse your role as a parent. Even if you are matside coach you are a parent first. Being a parent is much more important than being a coach. If your son loses a match, ask them what they think happened. Give them some coaching points if they are missing things and then put the parent hat back on and love them up. Beating your child up emotionally over a loss doesn’t help them become a better wrestler and is very confusing for kids. When you’re away from the mat don’t talk wrestling unless your child starts the conversation.
4. Praise their efforts not their results. You never know when you’re going to be on the mat with a future State or NCAA Champion. Teach kids that giving 100% of themselves is the best they can do, it takes a ton of mental pressure off them too. If you focus on winning and they know that they are in an unwinnable match the dreaded Q word pops into their minds. Giving 100% is the polar opposite of quitting. The winning and losing is outside your wrestlers control and will sort itself out.
5. Parents can help their wrestler build the best mindset early in life. Be positive but honest. The wrestler that prepares the hardest and smartest wins 99% of the matches. If your wrestler doesn’t want to work hard that’s ok, they just need to know that they’ll achieve average results. Be a role model for hard work, positive attitude, giving 100% of yourself and learning from mistakes. If you like criticizing your wrestler at a tournament just imagine your dad coming to your job and yelling at you. Does that sound like fun? Or a good way to get the best out of you?
6. Feed your wrestler real food. Drinks like PowerAde/Gatorade are the sweetener and chemical equivalent of giving your wrestler a soda. Focus on whole fresh foods filled with vitamins and minerals that help build a healthy body. Our food supply has changed drastically over the last generation and it hasn’t been good for us.
7. Recognize your wrestler’s improvements and resist the urge to criticize. Kids generally want to please their parents and your recognition of their efforts can make conscious and reinforce the changes they’ve made. Seeing our kids for who they are is a special thing. Getting better at anything is hard work, noticing the improved effort, technique etc. feeds the emotional bank account. Make it a habit to notice your wrestlers improvement, even when they are struggling. Struggle isn’t easy, it takes mental strength to persevere. Tell your wrestler something at least once a week. Your wrestler is a physical person so be physical with them, high fives, pats on the back or winks from across the gym go a long way.
8. Take them to a big match with a friend. My son went to WNO (Who’s Number One) with me the last two years. How much wrestling did he watch? 30%, but getting autographs on his shirt and running around with other wrestlers was an experience that he wants again and gives him a glimpse at a higher level. 14524605_10154609860349612_5404742181146567863_o
9. Pay attention to your wrestlers body. There usually isn’t enough time for a coach to build strength, dynamic abilities, flexibilities, technique etc in a 75 minute practice. Make sure that you make your wrestler stretch at home. It will take some time to develop a routine and for them to get the stretches with good form but it can make a huge difference in body health after the sport. Here’s a good start.
10. There is only so much a parent can do: find a good coach that makes it fun and gets them hooked. Be a positive parent and coach, feed your child’s mind with the same quality that you feed their body. Have fun with them. At best you might get a 10-year run with them. Follow their goals and dreams and enjoy it along the way. Silent car rides home from distant tournaments aren’t great experiences or memories. Be the parent that picks your wrestler up after a bad practice, match or tournament.
11. Wrestling should be a multidimensional activity that makes life better for its participants. Wrestling offers very little external rewards so make the most of the life lessons. Don’t get your kids into wrestling hoping for college scholarships. Wrestlers have the lowest estimated conversion of high school to college athletes of the largest 14 boys high school sports. More than 250,000 boys are chasing 7,000 openings and scholarship money is tight and very competitive. So do it for the positive values that it creates and the memories that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

OK that was 11.
Do your best, learn from your mistakes, apologize and laugh about them together. Share your experiences with other parents. Make the mat side a fun place for all involved.


Add a Comment
  1. Am a middle aged person… have grandchild who wrestles and I put a huge THUMBS up! To your article. Today in fact, I mentioned stretching and performed a few and always talk suggestions of various nutrient foods!! Thankyou!

  2. I’m a kid who has a reputation of not liking contact sports but now I want to but my parents will think it’s fishy if I suddenly “want to be a wrestler”
    What do I do?

    1. Without knowing your exact details…
      I’d just ask your parents if you could try a summer wrestling camp. There are plenty to choose from and require a short commitment of a week. If you like it and your parents see your interest, getting them on board for a full season will be much easier.

    2. Find an open mat event. Forget what your parents will think and go see if you actually like it first. If you like it, then explain to them honestly and accurately why you like it.

  3. Great article, thank you for taking the time to write it. As a wrestling dad, I always look for ways to be a better dad for my little guy!

    1. Gook luck. it’s not easy but it can have some great rewards.

  4. Hey I always want to wrestling

  5. My 14 year old is interested. We live in Sugar Land, TX(20 min) from Houston. Suggestions for my first step?

    1. I’ll ask some friends in Texas and get back to you when I hear something

      1. Jason Nickal (B0’s dad) recommends
        Vici Wrestling Club
        400 Hobbs Rd #106, League City, TX 77573
        FVXP+F2 League City, Texas
        (888) 221-4254
        recommends https://viciwrestling.wildapricot.org/

  6. My sons desperate to try wrestling but can’t find anywhere for him to go
    We live in Scotland near Edinburgh

    1. Use this link to the British Wrestling Club finder
      and Facebook Group
      Good luck to you both

  7. I’m in southern california and my 6 year old son wants to do wrestling. I seem to only have two clubs near me and I think they’re both closed. I’ve reached out to both and have heard nothing back, neither have up-to-date facebook pages or websites. Am I looking in the right place…any help is appreciated. Zip Code = 92337

    1. Hi
      You’re in a terrible area for clubs/business to be open. I know a couple that are open for older and experienced wrestlers but not novice.
      Did you try the USA wrestling feature? Here
      Cut and paste this into your browser. Recall Newsome and open your state

      1. Thank you…that’s where I got the names that I did find. There were 3 results, I reached out to two of them (the 3rd said Alabama…I’ll probably reach out anyway).

        I was just thinking that the scarcity of options might be pandemic related…we should be opening up soon. I’ll try again at that time.

        On another note, I see there are different types of wrestling styles: Greco-Roman, Freestyle, and I’m blanking on the third. What’s the difference between them, and which one should we be starting with?

        1. Freestyle and Greco-Roman are what most of the world wrestles and are the forms used in the Olympics and Word Championships. In American boys generally wrestle Folk Style from youth through college, unless you’re in a Beat the Streets program or advanced club. Girls and women’s wrestling in America is generally Freestyle, unless competing in a boys division.
          Folk has a greater emphasis on scoring while in control of your opponent. Freestyle allows for points to be scored while not in total control of opponent. Greco only allows you to attack your opponent above with waist.
          This is Freestyle/Greco season.
          Most novice/beginner youth programs start in the fall. Many clubs put their current details on social media and don’t update their websites very often. Check Facebook, you might get a quicker response on that platform. Good luck

  8. Awesome article and you have truly helped me as a parent do some soul searching in terms of how I interact with my kids, specifically youth sports related. Question; my middle son who is 9 started wrestling just before his 5th birthday…he experienced a lot of early success however in the year just before the pandemic hit he was asked to wrestle at a higher level where he lost a lot (but fought hard). He’s 9 now and this coming season would be the first time back since the pandemic and it doesn’t appear he wants to wrestle again (at least for now). I fear that the last season of losing left a sour taste for him. Should I proactively address the benefits of wrestling (he also plays tackle football and the relationship between the two sports are excellent) OR, should I let it go and allow him to come to me should the spark come back? Any thoughts to consider are greatly appreciated.

    1. Ways to try and get him back on his own. Will he have friends at practice? This can be a big lure. Does he have a good relationship with a coach? Maybe a conversation between them helps.
      If he is on the fence maybe the promise of not wrestling at the higher level unless he really want to do it will help take pressure off and have more fun. Winning more than you lose is fun.
      He is young enough that missing a season isn’t that big a deal. Make sure that he does a sport not matter what. THis may help steer him back to wrestling also. good luck

  9. My 11 year old is struggling bad. He has a slight learning disability and his ability to use technique and chain wrestle as he’s maturing has decreased substantially. He tells me he still wants to wrestle (I think it’s more the social atmosphere and his friends), but his actions on the practice mats if “half assing” it are playing out in tournaments now. Kinda at my wits end. Beginning to wonder if he peaked earlier as a youth and has hit a wall. He doesn’t wrestle year round like many kids do. Wondering if putting in off-season work and tournaments is the trick?

    1. Almost sounds like my own son.
      This is a tough one. I usually advocate following the child interest versus pushing. Let me take your question apart and see if I can get to an answer.
      First, a few people that I know have used some of the techniques in a book called “Healing Your Child’s Brain” and it might be worth a read or listen to see if it can help your 11 year old. I would do this prior to pushing him into year round wrestling this spring. Not sure what state you’re wrestling in but in PA the competition at this age is already intense and seasonal kids are close to them in the majority of cases. If he can’t retain the chain wrestling technique and progressions in a match I’m not sure that spring wrestling helps. Help the mind and then try to help the body and wrestling mind. Don’t take it personally.

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