A few tips from your friend, the Ref
Wrestling is always perceived as a physical sport, however, it’s much more than strength and toughness. Control, balance, preparation, and knowledge of your body plays an integral role in a young athlete’s success.
So how can you be the best wrestler you can? We met up with a referee at Alexander Central School in Upstate New York. He had some tips to share:
- Be prepared; this sounds obvious, but you must be ready mentally for every tournament.
- Warm up/stretch out, while many young athletes can simply step out on the mat and bend and twist without injury; the responsiveness, or twitch instinct of your muscles will not perform at peak level until after they are in use for 2-3 minutes, and often times, the match is over when they are at their peak.
- Practice, Practice, Practice- If you want to consistently perform a move, you need to practice until it becomes muscle memory, because if you pause for a moment, your opponent will capitalize.
4. Listen to your coaches. They are there because they want you to succeed; they are telling you things that will help you.
5. Go to camps/clinics: What better way to learn and have fun than see some of the best coaches and wrestlers show you things that brought them success.
6. Don’t be scared! You will be in uncomfortable positions, and feel trapped; relax and take a deep breath, while it feels like you can’t, you can still breath. That deep breath will give you the energy to fight through.
7. Don’t get discouraged- Everyone will lose, that doesn’t make you a loser. You are learning, and each loss will teach you a lesson, and someday soon your hand will be raised.
8. Do cut weight until Varsity/JV- Everyone sees the kid at the tournament running, there is no reason to suck weight for a peewee tournament. I promise you no college coach is going to offer you a full ride at any pee wee event.
9. Have fun! – Remember that this is a sport, and the reason we compete is because we love it. Do it because you want to, not because your dad wants to, your brother did, or your friend does, do it because you want to. If you leave the gym having fun, you are a winner no matter what place you got.
10. Show respect- For your opponent, for your coaches, for the officials, for the sport, but most of all yourself. Remember you represent your school/club, your coaches, your community, your family, but most of all yourself, do so with pride and respect!
Photo credits: Junior Reporters, Anabelle, age 9 (pictured) and Jasmine, age 13