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Monona Grove / McFarland

Monona Grove / McFarland

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Mar, 2020

Myths of Youth Wrestling

All youth sports, including wrestling, deal with myths that may prevent kids from joining the sport, or force them to leave the sport. If you're new to the sport of wrestling, considering joining wrestling, or wonder what it's like inside the world of youth wrestling, these tips can help:

You must start at a young age: Rob Prebish started wrestling in fourth grade. He remembers how, back then, he heard parents tell his parents he was starting too late and would never succeed in high school because he was too far behind teammates who started wrestling in first or second grade.

“While many of my youth wrestling teammates were better and more successful than me when I began, through hard work and competing, I quickly closed the gap,” says Prebish, now an assistant wrestling coach at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia. “By the time we all reached high school, the kids who began wrestling much earlier than me already peaked and did not have much success in high school. I continued to grow and improve through junior high and high school and had a pretty successful high school, college, and international career.”

Now, as a coach, Prebish never gives up on a kid no matter their age or start.

“I have pulled some of the best kids I have coached through the years out of physical education class when they were freshmen or sophomores in high school,” Prebish says. “It’s all about the effort one puts into training that determines future success.”

There’s a belief in all youth sports that if you haven’t started competing in that sport by the time you are in middle school, you should give up or not start in the sport altogether, says Chad Shilson, Minnesota USA Wrestling Girls/Women’s Director and father of two-time Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association National champion and 2018 UWW Cadet World Champion Emily Shilson. The same holds true in youth wrestling, and especially for girls in wrestling.

“I believe as a coach, I can develop an athlete faster, in a shorter period of time, as long as they have a great attitude and work ethic,” says Shilson. “I often tell our girls that we can improve several seasons’ worth in only one season if we really focus our training, paying extremely close attention to detail. It’s beautiful when your athlete buys into it and you see them leapfrog other wrestlers that have been involved in the sport much longer, simply because they devoted their time on improving their base fundamental skills, versus only focusing on winning. We stress focusing on the process, not the results.”

“I have had wrestlers start in eighth grade and go on to be high school state champions,” says Scott Kluever, State Coach with the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation, and a middle school wrestling coach in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. “It’s the effort you put in that defines you.”
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