Youth Wrestling Gear
There is something elemental about wrestling. The small amount of equipment required is all about reducing surface area. While there are teams and a measure of cooperative spirit, the game is ultimately played between two people. Holding someone to the ground seems much more tied to our evolutionary past than say, kicking a ball into a net. It’s no wonder that wrestling is often called “the oldest sport in the world.”
It makes sense that wrestling fans would want to introduce their kids to such a rewarding sport early on. However, it takes special considerations in order to make sure that young wrestlers have safe matches. In the United States, school wrestling teams are required to provide certain safety features for student wrestlers, such as mouthguards and headgear. By taking the right precautions, kids can enjoy wrestling safely.
This article will serve as a general overview of safety considerations for young wrestlers and will introduce samples of great gear options for them.
Youth Wrestling Safety
Growing pains are very real experiences. Puberty, braces, and other factors can all affect how young wrestlers compete. All of these factors must be taken into consideration when buying wrestling gear. With wrestling in particular, it is important that gear fits properly. Loose headgear or shoes can cause an athlete to trip and risk needless injury. Gear that is too tight can restrict movement and prevent a winning move.
It’s important to frequently check to make sure that equipment fits growing bodies. While many pieces of equipment are marketed specifically toward youth, older kids or kids with larger frames may be ready for gear traditionally marketed toward adults. Headgear especially is highly adjustable, and lasts longer as kids grow.
Most schools require physicals before students can begin training for wrestling. These physicals are a great chance for parents to know their children’s vulnerabilities and to determine which equipment will best protect them. For example, a child who is double jointed might wear knee padding in order to help prevent overextension of the knee.
Make sure that weight loss or gain for wrestling is done in a healthy manner. Talk to the coach about weight loss and gain techniques.
What to look for:
Singlets are the one piece of wrestling equipment that are not hard to shop for. Many teams have matching singlets to order for the whole team. However, make sure that they fit comfortably and are made with quality material before focusing on colors or patterns. Following are a couple of solid options for singlets:
Brute is a dependable brand for wrestling gear. This particular singlet is s good representation of what to look for in a singlet. It is made with nylon and lycra spandex, comfortable materials that stretch to conform with an athlete’s body. It’s high cut, with the legs ending just above the knee. The legs have a gripper elastic to prevent them from riding up. It comes in seven colors and several sizes (including youth sizes).
Another highly rated singlet, the Asics Men’s Solid Modified Singlet is similar in many ways. It is also made with nylon and lycra spandex, although with a greater lycra spandex to nylon ratio. The legs end above the knees as well, but the sleeves are lower cut. Flat seam stitching creates a slightly closer fit.
What to look for:
One of the main reasons to pick a high quality wrestling shoes is in the ankles. Wrestling shoes feature high-tops with support to protect ankles and give competitors more leverage for better moves. At the same time, they shouldn’t constrict movements.
Wrestling shoes need a very snug fit—they should fit like a sock. When wrestlers wear shoes that are too big for them, they increase their chance of tripping and getting hurt. Shoes that are too tight can cause pain and constrict movements.
Good grip on the mat is one of the biggest advantages a competitor can have in wrestling. Look for treads with sharp angles that dig into to the mat.
Split soles v. unisoles
Almost every brand that sells wrestling shoes makes models with both split and non-split soles. Split sole shoes contain two soles—one for the toes and one for the heal. Split-soles are lighter and more flexible, making it easier for athletes to make well-articulated moves. Split sole shoes are the most common choice for lightweight wrestlers, who most need to be quick on their feet.
Unisoles have one sole that extends over the entire sole. Unisoles are not as flexible, but they are much more durable, and can be a good choice for heavyweight wrestlers.
Synthetic v. natural materials
Every shoe buyer most consider whether or not to get a shoe made out of leather, synthetic materials, or a mixture of both. While synthetic materials were once considered only a cheap alternative to leather, advances in technology are making them a more and more desirable option.
Wrestling shoes made with leather hold quite a few advantages for athletes. Wrestling shoes require a firm grip on the foot for safety. When a leather shoe is worn a little tightly, it expands and conforms to the foot. The material is also thicker than most synthetic material, which makes some wrestlers feel more protected. A big disadvantage to leather shoes is their high cost.
Shoes made with synthetic material vary widely in terms of quality, so select carefully. Depending on the kind you buy, shoes made with synthetic material can be more breathable and flexible. They are also more water resistant, helping players’ feet stay cool throughout a match. Synthetic materials are lighter and more versatile. They are increasingly the top choice for sports shoes. They also hold designs much more readily than leather, making it easier for teams to have shoes that show off their team spirit.
This shoe is a great example of what can be done with leather. This is a higher-end, specialty shoe that still makes use of a rubber sole and other synthetic materials.
Because it contains synthetic materials, this model retains some of the benefits of synthetic materials. It contains mesh, allowing for the athlete’s feet to breathe. Its sole is rubber with a split design, allowing for quickness on the feet. Enhanced medial arch support keeps the athlete in comfort, even during long matches. An ecsaine (faux-suede) and leather upper keeps the shoe light while retaining the comfort and fit of leather.
Adidas Mens HVC Wrestling shoes are tried and true classic wrestling shoes that happen to be fully synthetic. The focus here is on the fact that they are lightweight, breathable, and yet also durable.
This is a unisole design with a fine tread, making this shoe ideal for heavyweight wrestlers who need to be able to dig into the mat for leverage. A single-layer mesh allows the feet to breathe while also keeping the shoe durable.
In the United States, schools require mouth guards for student wrestlers. Since mouth guards have to vary in size and shape for different athletes, purchasing an appropriate mouth guard is often left to the parents.
There are three main types of mouth guards: pre-manufactured, boil and bite, and custom made. Pre-manufactured mouthguards are the kind you will find most readily available online and in stores. They are the most affordable option, and work best for kids who have average sized and shaped teeth.
For a slightly more personalized fit, boil and bite mouthguards are molded to a kid’s mouth at home. These have the disadvantage of tending to slip out of the mouth easily.
Custom-made mouthguards are by far the best option, and by far the most expensive. They often require several visits to the dentist. If your child has braces or an abnormal teeth structure, strongly consider ordering a custom mouth guard.
Another special consideration for youth wrestlers is braces. The best option is to discuss a custom-fit mouth guard with your dentist. However, there are more affordable, pre-manufactured options available.
Mouth guards should fit comfortably and allow for breathing and talking. The best-designed mouth guards protrude slightly in order to protect the chin and lower jaw. They should be resistant to tears and easy to clean. Cases should be vented to help keep mouth guards bacteria-free. If chemicals are a concern, also consider the material the mouth guard is made of. Medical-grade silicone is a great option.
Here is an affordable option with some customization because of its boil and bite design. It comes with a vented case, definitely an added value. The material is BPA free and allows the wrestler to breath during competition.
Here is an excellent option for kids with braces. It is pre-manufactured. Since boil and bite mouthguards can get caught in braces, so a pre-manufactured or custom mouthguard is your best bet. This model provides “ortho-channels” that allow an athlete to breathe more easily. It is also manufactured using medical grade silicone, making it a soft and comfortable option.It comes in either a bright blue and a bright pink color.
What to look for:
Soft shell v hard shell
Wrestling headgear is also often also called ear guards, because their man function is to protect ears from damage. There are two designs of headgear to help prevent these injuries: soft shells and hard shells.
Hard shell headgear is made with foam and a durable plastic shell. It is more lightweight and often contain designs that allow for better hearing during competition. It also tend to last longer than soft shell headgear. However, they are not allowed at all competitions.
Soft shell helmets are manufactured with polymer, rubber, or fabric materials. These are a popular choice for young wrestlers, as they tend to be more comfortable.
Headgear specifically designed for youth are great for wrestlers at the younger end of the spectrum. However, kids grow quickly, and many pieces of headgear marketed towards adults are adjustable enough to be a great fit for minors as well. Strap designs vary, with as few as two adjustable straps and as many as five. An important consideration is ear size. Headgear with halo straps (two straps on the top of the head) are best for wrestlers with smaller ears. A four-strap design is best for athletes with larger ears.
Ability to hear
During a match, it is certainly to an athlete’s advantage to be able to hear words from his coach, teammates, or well-wishers. Because headgear protects the ears, it sometimes blocks important noises from the athlete. Be careful to select a piece of headgear that protects the ears while still allowing the athlete to hear the world around him.
This hard shell youth headgear provides excellent venting, allowing the athlete to hear better and stay cooler. It has a simple tightening system, making it easier for young athletes to prepare on their own. It also has deep er pockets, so that even athletes with quite large ears are protected.
There are several pieces of equipment not required in schools that may nevertheless be helpful to young wrestlers.
Wrestling is essentially a game about falling. Whether an athlete is winning or losing, his knees will take a beating. The concept sounds simple, but there are actually several knee pad designs. Some provide simple impact cushioning, with a circular cushion to cover the knee. Others (often called “knee sleeves”) are lightweight, less constricting, and have a slippery surface in order to prevent mat burn.
Knee pads should fit snugly without limiting range of motion. Athletes can choose to wear a knee pad on only the knee they fall on the most, or on both legs. This is all a personal choice. Choose knee pads carefully to fit your wrestler’s specific needs and preferences.
Most competitions require competitors to cover or tape shoelaces to prevent tripping accidents. If your athlete finds the sight of tape unseemly, a lace cover may be a good investment. Lace covers are usually just elastic bands that cover the ankle where the laces are tied.
Head Cover/ Wrestling Cap/ Slicker
There are many names for this simple accessory. It’s just something that covers up hair to keep it out of the face and prevent an opponent from using their hair as leverage. They also come in various colors, creating yet another way to show team or school spirit.
Head covers are usually made with lycra spandex, but consider a cotton blend so that it helps absorb sweat.
Blood rags are kept under an athlete’s singlet for wiping their face or mat in the case of blood loss. Blood rags are only required for higher-level competitions. However, blood rags still come in handy in lower-level competitions. They are great for sopping up excess sweat. There is no need to buy a specialty blood rag—in fact, a cotton handkerchief can do the job perfectly well. A blood rag worn for many seasons can become sort of a good luck charm, so pick one that fit’s the athlete’s personality in some way.
Wrestling doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience for young wrestlers. Proper youth wrestling gear and proper training helps them feel prepared for this intensive contact sport. Have fun cheering your little one on from the sidelines!