11 Things Every New Wrestling Family Needs To Know

Posted January 9, 2024 by Prairie Wife - 2 comments

Wrestling is a fantastic sport, but it has a rough learning curve. So, as a mother of five wrestlers with almost a decade of wrestling under my belt, I thought I would share with you eleven things every new wrestling family needs to know.

This post refers primarily to families with younger kids participating in Club Wrestling (USA or AAU), though some of these tips will also help those of you just entering the world of Middle School and High School Wrestling.

Before we dive into the actual tips, I want to encourage you to read this post that explains all the reasons why my family and I love wrestling. If you have a female wrestler, I encourage you to read this post that has essential information about how you can support her.

Now, onto what you really came here to learn…

11 Things Every New Wrestling Family Needs to Know

1. The First Year is All About Surviving: Wrestling is a complicated sport with a lot to learn. Wrestling is not only learning the moves themselves but understanding the etiquette and rituals of the sport as well. I encourage you to focus on your child becoming familiar with the sport, not winning during this first year. I promise when your child goes back for their second year, you’ll be amazed at the growth you see!

2. Be Thoughtful About What Tournaments You Enter: Not all tournaments are created equal, and for your first few years of wrestling, I encourage you to focus on local tournaments that have smaller numbers. You and your family will be less likely to be overwhelmed, make positive connections with other wrestlers at the same level, and have a better chance of winning a few matches. Entering your new wrestler into a tournament that’s a 5-hour drive away with 3,000 kids is likely to end badly for everyone.

3. You Don’t Have To Wrestle Every Weekend: Time on the mat competing against new wrestlers is the best way to improve as a wrestler. But, as a parent, you need to be thoughtful about how much time and energy you dedicate to the sport. We actively try and take off one or two weekends a month during the season. These weekends of rest for all of us have kept our kids from burning out and helped us maintain the right balance between pushing our kids to be the best athletes they can be…and allowing them to simply be kids.

4. Keep It Simple With Gear: It can be tempting to buy your kiddo the best wrestling shoes and a whole slew of custom singlets, and if that’s within your budget, that’s fine. But it’s absolutely not necessary. Many clubs have singlets for rent or that they allow members to access for free…the same goes for wrestling shoes and headgear. If this is your first year and you aren’t sure how it will go, PLEASE consider taking advantage of those low-cost options! Our kids have one pair of wrestling shoes, one regular singlet, one set of headgear, one reversible singlet (you only need this if you wrestle Freestyle and/or Greco), and a backpack for all their stuff. When purchasing gear for our kids, we don’t pay extra for specific brands. We pick out what fits and is affordable, and our kids usually use gear that belonged to older siblings first. NOTE: Label your gear with your last name.

5. Tournaments Are An Ordeal: The noise, the crowds, the length of time, learning how to use TrackWreslting, and the smell…Plan to be completely overwhelmed by your first few tournaments! Don’t be afraid to ask coaches and other wrestling parents in the club for help. They’ve all been there and will happily tell you where to go for skin checks and how to find out your kiddo’s bout numbers. Plan to be in the gym for 6-10 hours. Know that seating will be uncomfortably jam-packed, and your gear will get stepped on and maybe spilled on. Also, be prepared for the tournament to start at least 30 minutes late.

6. Bring Food and Drinks: Get a soft-sided cooler and fill it up with food and snacks for your wrestler and the rest of your family. Yes, there likely will be concessions at the tournament, but they often run out, and after a few weekends of $10 cold nachos and dry hotdogs, you’ll be happy you packed your own food. In Wyoming, where towns are often small and may not have fast food available, it’s even more important to pack food because you may have to drive an hour and a half before getting something! What should you pack? Water bottles, sports drinks, jerky, granola bars, string cheese, squeeze pouches of apple sauce, premade sandwiches, pretzels, crackers, and bags of raw veggies.

7. Pack a Toy Bag For Siblings: Wrestling is often a family affair, and it’s not fair to expect siblings not participating in the tournament to sit and watch wrestling for 10 hours. Even most adults can’t handle it! We pack a toy bag for our kids with small, quiet toys they can play with in the stands. We also allow our kids to bring tech (iPad and Nintendo Switch). Remember that these gyms are packed, and there is a high chance that your bag will get stepped on or toys and tech will get lost. It’s unrealistic to expect your kids to keep track of everything in the gym’s chaos, so leave expensive items at home if you’re not comfortable helping them. If you bring tech, pack chargers. What are some of the toys we bring? Coloring Books and Washable Markers, Hot Wheels Cars, Barbies, Card Games, Books, Action Figures, and Small Plastic Animals. Please, don’t pack slime.

8. Pack Your Own Blood Bag: Coaches will have a “blood bag” a backpack with basic first aid items, but we have found it helpful to have our own and just keep it stocked and ready for tournaments. What do we keep in our bag? A basic first aid kit, fingernail clippers, athletic tape (for injuries and to tape their shoelaces), wet wipes, an extra set of headgear, Tylonol/IB Profin, a permanent marker (to write their bout numbers on their arm so you don’t have to keep track of them), and copies of their USA/AAU cards.

9. Keep Their Skin Healthy: When you have a bunch of kids rolling around on a mat sweating, there can be a lot of bacteria and fungus. It’s up to you as the parent to nag your wrestler to practice good hygiene to prevent them from getting skin diseases (and spreading them to their teammates). Your child must shower with an antibacterial soap after every practice and tournament. We use Defense Body Wash for our family of wrestlers. Wash singlets and knee sleeves weekly. Wear clean clothes to every practice. Spray shoes and gear bags with Antibacterial Fabric Spray weekly. At the first sign of Ringworm or Impetigo (the two most common skin problems for wrestlers), take your child to the doctor if necessary, follow the appropriate treatment directions, let the coach know, and keep them away from other wrestlers until they are cleared.

10. Lead By Example: Wrestling is a sport that is all about respect. Each bout starts with the athletes shaking the referee’s hand and then their opponent’s hand and each bout ends the same way. Be mindful of your own actions and help show your child respect for others by what you say and do. These athletes are all just kids. Ultimately, anyone brave enough to step onto the mat (win or lose) deserves respect and admiration. Things can get heated and emotional in this intense sport, and if you can’t keep your emotions in check as a parent, it may not be the right sport for your family. Yelling at coaches, table help, referees, your child, or other athletes is unacceptable. Officials (this includes table help) have a right to remove you from the tournament if they feel you are not behaving appropriately, and if they feel that you are not creating a safe place for athletes, they absolutely will do so.

11. Growth Looks Different for Every Child: In wrestling, you must compare your child to themselves, not those around them. Some kids are natural athletes and pick up the sport easily. Others have been wrestling since they were 3 and had five years of experience compared to your first-year child. To go a whole season without a win isn’t uncommon. But take a look at your child and compare them to where they were when they started. Maybe they got pinned in the first 10 seconds in the first tournament. I bet by the end of the season, they will make it into the third period and force their opponent to work their booty off for that pin! Maybe they were scared the first tournament, and by the end of the season, they go onto the mat without a bit of fear…and maybe even a smile. Wrestling is about being willing to step on the mat, ready to go, not knowing the result. It’s about showing up and doing your best, and finding the grit to get back up and do it over and over again.


Is there something you think I missed that every new wrestling family needs to know?

Let me know in the comments.

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2 thoughts on "11 Things Every New Wrestling Family Needs To Know"

  1. Delilah Pasman says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! I wish I had had this too read last year. This week be our second but all is this was true even more. Thank you!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Congratulations on making it to year two! And I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

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