Are you a Trophy Hunter Novice Wrestling Parent? — 3 Comments

  1. Hey my name is carlos escoboza. I truly enjoyed the article and i agree with you 100% . I was a wrestler myself. My son is a first year wrestler in 7th grade and i already put him in open competition tournament to prepare him for high school wrestling. I understand I’ve been down those roads.

  2. I have seen this issue from both sides of the spectrum, and was somewhat of an activist about this issue in our region. Wade Schalles and I have been corresponding about youth wrestling recently and he said he doesn’t feel you should even take a child to a tournament unless you are certain they will win 40% of their matches.

    It’s all well and good to say “It’s not about winning or losing..” or “it’s not about trophies…” but the reality is that getting slaughtered is not fun. And kids will just find something else to do. Some of this goes back to the “parent coach” issue I talked about earlier. Because in many cases the kids with the parent coaches are the ones doing the slaughtering. It’s very easy for a child to get discouraged.

    A lot of this has to do with the way we match kids up. And it’s way behind other combat sports. In Boxing kids can’t even fight kids who have more then five matches then them. In sports like Judo or BJJ they have a RANK SYSTEM so you have a guide to determine not just what a kid weighs, or even how long they have been doing it. But the rank system actually is a measure of how competent they are. How much have they actually learned and mastered? In martial arts tournaments kids are paired within a certain number of belt ranks.

    In youth wrestling we have the “Novice” system which is generally limited to two years. In those two years you face other kids who have only wrestled for two years. After that is up, they kick you out with everyone else into Open. This is often the time when kids lose interest depending on what age they are.

    We have two good kids in our club. Both are 11. They are about the same age. The difference is, one just started (Jandyn), and the other has been wrestling since she was 5. (Jo-Jo) By the time Jandyn is kicked out into Open, nothing is going to prepare her to wrestle someone like Jo-Jo who would at that point been wrestling for over 10 years to Jandyn’s 2.

    In contrast, in the Martial arts tournaments Jo-Jo would never be paired with Jandyn in competition anyway, as Jandyn would be a far lower belt rank then Jo-Jo.

    The problem with the Novice system as it currently works particularly where I live here in Michigan is there is often a HUGE deficit in ability that you encounter. And the older a child is when they start wrestling, the worse this issue is.

    My son was ready for Open at the conclusion of his 2 years. (No small part of this is because we trained a lot over the summer to catch him up) He has since went on to place 1st and 2cd at every open tournament he has been to so far this season. My daughter on the other hand still has critical holes in her game that she is slowly closing. It is all well and good to say that it’s “good” for a child to wrestle people better then they are and this is true to some degree. But I have also seen what happens when that is all a child does. They start to become very gunshy in their offense. Not to mention their confidence becomes very fragile.

    The famous MMA fighter Georges St. Pierre said in his book “The way of the fight” that when he trains for a fight he intentionally goes out and finds grapplers that are not as good as he is to practice his offense, AND grapplers that are far superior to him so that he can practice his defense. And that too much of either will create terrible habits. So while it is true wrestling challenging opponents is important to your development, wrestling with opponents you can at least breathe while wrestling is equally important.

    I have seen kids who were in Novice far longer then they should of been. And what is odd about it is that many of these kids went on to place at regionals and some of them even went on to place at states. I didn’t understand how this would ever work until I was working with my own daughter on her skills. We go into every match with specific goals in mind. “We are going to work on shooting in this match, and your sit out….” for example. Trying to learn new skills against superior opponents just doesn’t work. So I am fairly certain that is likely what these other kids were doing as well.

    Now, all of this said my daughter is still having competitive matches in Novice, so it’s not like she is slaughtering everyone. Yet. And I know it won’t be long before she has to make the move. But I ALSO know that if she goes into Open before she is ready we will be right back where we were before. Which is that she will be afraid to shoot. She will give up on the bottom. Etc, etc.

    What wrestling REALLY needs is a rank system. So that each kid can develop at their own pace and continue to compete and have fun without the pressure of having to constantly be keeping up with all of the kids in your weight class. And if we can’t have that, there should be an INTERMEDIATE level between Novice and Open. It is literally asinine to force new wrestler who is say 12 years old to wrestle a kid who has been wrestling since they were 5 and expect that to ever be “fun” to the average kid. ALL of the other major combat sports already have this figured out.

  3. Amen
    We had 4 coaches we removed from our team due to lieing.
    They have now formed their own team (3 of them) & compete with ours for attention & support from our community.
    Recently we took 14 out of 20 kids to a NOVICE
    This new team had 4 of our former wrestlers. 3 & 4 yrs experience.
    I told the tourney director a week before when registering this would happen & he allowed it because of $.
    The “head” coach claims he didn’t know that NOVICE meant there was a limit of experience. Even after attending 1 a month ago & not putting his step son of 4yrs experience in that 1.
    When my kids who have wrestled along side him & see this become upset…how do you not allow your kids to think of people as cheaters?

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