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Kids Athletics, Your Thoughts?

So, what are peoples thoughts on youth athletics? My wife and I have been discussing signing the kiddo up on the wrestling team. Their youth program starts next month and sign ups have begun. I started wrestling in 4th grade, liked it and did pretty well. My oldest nice has had her son on the team in the same school district for some years now and her boy seems a little indifferent to it. There’s also another guy that I was on the team with as a kid that has his son on the team. My kiddo likes to roughhouse a good bit. He’s pretty strong for his size and has good leg drive and endurance. I’m just not too sure how he will like getting tossed around a little bit, but we’ll see.

So what are your thoughts and experiences on youth athletics in general, or wrestling in particular?

I don’t have experience with youth athletics as a father, yet, but I don’t see a downside to them really at all. Our oldest boy does gymnastics and I plan on signing him up for t-ball, soccer, and basketball as soon as he’s old enough. I’ll probably try and coach or help with all of it if I can.

Wrestled for 10 years. Nothing teaches humility and resilience like getting owned in a match. Also nobody who wrestled or played football in my school was a bully, despite being the strongest kids in school. I think something about experiencing violence in a controlled context makes you less willing to hurt others in real life.

It teaches coordination, builds strength and confidence. Also it teaches accountability. If you lose a match and lose points for the team, that’s all on you. No teammate to blame for holding or fumbling the ball.

I would say that once he gets to competitive ages… I hated cutting weight. I wrestled before hydration testing was mandatory in PA. So we’d starve all week eating cans of tuna and running in 6 layers just to make weight. Drinking prune juice and spitting. I still hate cutting weight to this day because of that nonsense.

Now they track your weight though, so you can’t wrestle lighter than (X-10) if you were (X) before the season started. They clamped down on all that stuff after kids died.

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I’d like to get my boys into Jiu-jitsu if I can. My mom is pushing Ninjitsu, but I just don’t see the utility (point?) in that versus Jiu-Jitsu.


Nun chucks and throwing stars. Duh.

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That’s like 4th+ degree blackbelt…

Your feet to height ratio was brought up in conversation yesterday! At least they do that tracking now. We used to get told “next week you’re wrestling at X.”. And that was that. At least if the kid goes on a diet of tuna and Copenhagen I’ll know what’s going on. I was going to ask the coaches about that directly, as its a big no-no in my book too.

I’m just so-so on those. I’d definitely have to look around at the schools. There are so many Mcdojos and bullshido practioners around here that make it hard to trust. I’d actually like to get him into the American Ninja Warrior stuff. He loves the running, jumping and climbing but some of those obstacles have gotten very sophisticated.


I was a fairly competitive wrestler in high school. State and National level competitor, recruited to wrestle at about a dozen schools, though I didn’t ever place in Nationals so I’m not great by any level. Having played many sports growing up (Football, baseball, wrestling, lacrosse, Track and Field, College rugby) until narrowing down a bit once I got to high school (just football and wrestling), I will say that Wrestling is by far more rewarding than any other sport I did.

The practices are brutal, the sport is demanding. It teaches discipline and hard work more than anything else I have done. Everything is on you, which is great for both self-motivation and for learning humility for those times you do inevitably lose. Also, in terms of building sheer athleticism, wrestling trumps all. Strong, agile, great endurance, I credit wrestling for allowing me to still run sub 7 minute miles at a 220lb bodyweight without too much dedicated running.

I did well, but I did not start wrestling until 8th grade. It was obvious at that time who had been wrestling since childhood. Kids who has been wrestling since they were young just looked smooth on the mat. Their technique was better, they were accustomed to being in uncomfortable situations, they had amazing control of their body movements. In terms of building an athlete, I can’t think of anything I would recommend more than wrestling at a young age. Especially if you think your son would ever like to try to compete at a high level when he gets older.

Also to be fair, I hated wrestling. Loathed it. I never wanted to go to practice, never even wanted to compete. It was never a “fun” sport for me, but I could never stop because 1) the feeling of satisfaction after being done with a god awful practice and 2) the even better feeling of elation after winning a wrestling match.

Wrestling makes you athletic, makes you tough, and teaches humility, hardwork, and discipline. If your kid doesn’t want to wrestle, well I don’t think it is ever a good idea to force someone into a sport. But if he has interest, I think it is one of the best things a young man can do.


The more variety, the better. Introduce him to a bunch and see what sticks. You’re big into wrestling, so that would be a cool bonding thing, but he might click more with a team sport. The more stuff he can try, the more he’ll be able to figure out what he’s good at and, more importantly, what he enjoys.

If Ninja Warrior stuff is on the horizon, I’d definitely look into gymnastics classes.

Any kind of martial art, which wrestling certainly is, would be a great idea. I used to teach kenpo-jiujitsu to kids as young as 3 or 4. But really, at that age, it’s not so much about the techniques as it is bare-basics (punch, kick, run from stranger) and learning general self-control (no roughhousing in class), listening skills, and setting the groundwork to see if it is something they want to continue for years.

Poison-tip darts or nothin’. But, um, yeah, that’s weird. Ninjitsu is the gimmick you think it is.


I wrestled growing up. Greco Roman mostly. I made varsity as a freshman in HS.

I think in terms of pure athleticism, nothing beats wrestling. I think wrestling builds the most “overall” balanced athlete from of physical standpoint.

You are strong, not just barbell strong. You are explosive. You are flexible and agile. You are really conditioned. You have great body awareness. And you know how to man handle someone.

But I think more than that it builds a lot of confidence and it builds mental toughness and grit. Even if you are losing a match, you gotta get back and up and go again. It teaches you to never back down and hold yourself accountable.

I’m all about kids getting into athletics. No need to specialize until they know what they want to do. But expose them to as many sports as possible.

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I’ve been raising my now ex-girlfriends son since he was 4. He’ll be 18 in a few weeks and he’s been in hockey since he was 7. He’s currently getting recruited by a Junior hockey team in Massachusetts (basically a developmental league for under 21 players that might go on to college or minor-league pro hockey).

Hockey is a very tough sport but also the most popular sport here in Maine. There are a lot of bat-shit crazy parents who seem to live vicariously through their 8 year-old squirt hockey players and think they’ve got the next Gretzky on their hands. Don’t be one those guys. Let your coaches coach and let your kid learn to be coached. If you have a problem with how your coach is coaching, talk to the coach. Don’t bitch about it to your kid, stir up resentment or give your kid any ideas other than ways to improve. If your kid has a problem with another kid, advise your kid on ways to improve the situation and make the most out of it. Don’t start shit with the parents.

Your kid may not like the sport you’ve put him or her in. It’s one thing to lose interest during a practice or to have a bad game or two, but I’ve watched kids be miserable and completely un-interested year-after-year while their parents screamed at the ref and yelled at the coaches. I don’t see how that helps anyone.

This goes to my next point, which is selecting the right league and/or level of play. In hockey you’ve got various levels. We started him out in “house” hockey, which is where everyone gets to play, nobody gets cut and the focus is on fun and development. This worked out really well for him. He was the worst player on his team when he was 9 but the best by the time he was 12. This is because he was enjoying himself, taking his ice time seriously and working really hard off of the ice doing shooting drills in the basement, rollerblading and practicing stick handling. Simply stated, the kid was obsessed with hockey. He still is.

It was around this age he started getting frustrated with the kids who didn’t take it as seriously as him, which was most of the team. So we ponied up even more money to get him on a Tier II team, which is the highest level of youth play in Maine (not a big enough population for Tier I). They play to win, they do cut players and you have to earn your ice time. He really took off from here and is still playing Tier II hockey for his U18 midget team before the high school season starts.

Had we pushed him towards Tier II two years earlier, he might have made the team but he might not have been in a position to flourish like he did. Maybe he would have. Who knows? Sometimes staying in the small pond a little longer can pay off.

So hockey’s been his sport and he’s had a lot of success with it. He loves it more than anything, including school. Obviously we wish that wasn’t the case, but throughout the years we’ve accepted that fact and put most of his life into orbit around hockey. He brought home two D’s on a progress report when he was in the 6th grade. So we made him sit out two games. And not sat at home sleeping in, he got up at 5am to go put his helmet on and sit on the bench while his team lost the game without him. He had to explain to the coach why he couldn’t play. He was extremely embarrassed by this, but he should have been.

This bothered him a lot and he protested quite loudly the way 12 year olds do, but that was the last time he brought home a pair of D’s. From then on the mere threat of hockey consequences was enough to snap him into line. I confiscated his cellphone once too, which is a fate worse than death apparently. That works well too, for the record.

So yeah, sports are fantastic if you do it right and you’re lucky enough to get your kid in something they truly enjoy and keep it up over time. It takes a lot of work to get good at hockey, and that confidence has helped him in all areas of his life. If you can get good at hockey you can get good at most things.

I’m sure wrestling is right up there too.


Ninjitsu is LARP sold by charlatans. Get your kid in jiu-jitsu, judo or wrestling. Boxing, kickboxing and muay thai are also legit, but beware concussions. That’s scary stuff for kids. (And why I spent top dollar on hockey helmets every time his head grew).

Jiu jitsu is probably best for not getting beat up or bullied at school if you’ve got a self-defense oriented school with a self-defense curriculum. There’s a new school in my area that’s been posting on social media about teaching white belts x-guard and various other flashy moves that are really only applicable to sport jiu jitsu. Nothing wrong with that per-se, but it’s not good self-defense material for new students. Learn how to make safe, execute takedowns, escape from bad positions and hold dominant positions first.

If your kid is a good at judo or wrestling they won’t be getting beat up either, plus there are a lot of opportunities for scholarship and high-level sanctioned play. Both are olympic events whereas jiu jitsu is not, nor do any universities offer jiu jitsu scholarships that I know of.

But do not waste your money with ninjitsu. It is made-up horseshit with an instructor lineage that traces back to a 1980’s strip mall somewhere.

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Good way to build confidence, mobility and coordination, spatial awareness and complex strategic thinking (as they progress). Good way to meet people outside of “mandatory” (school) settings. Learn about leadership and how to perform in a group/team setting.

Never wrestled - would like to get my kid involved in something like it though…I think it’s a good sport but dammit they will be wearing ear protection

This is how it always ends



I feel like you’re talking about me in the future …

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I was the lame one who always wore ear protection in practice instead of just during meets. Glad I did, cauliflower ear is nasty. Never understood why some people took pride in it. Had ringworm a couple times, never viewed that as a symbol of being a “true wrestler,” dont see how the messed up ear is any different.


I’ve played hockey pretty much my whole life … always wore a cage with a mouthpiece … don’t care if some people think having dentures cuz they took a puck to the mouth is cool … I’d much rather not have that happen to me and wear face protection.

I hear ya man … some people take pride in odd things

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Oh man, we had one of those when I was in elementary and middle school. The coaches finally banned him from practice.

When you find yourself mad doggin and pushing around 11 year olds, things have gone waaaaaaay out of bounds.

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What’s really crazy is that a lot of the arenas serve alcohol. I grew up in Indiana and people were passionate about basketball. Really passionate. But I don’t recall any fights or drunk parents, except the one time my dad showed up a little buzzed and kept yelling for the ref to call 3 second violations. My mom ripped him a new one for that.

I’ve seen at least 3 actual fights break out among parents and coaches. Maybe more I’m not remembering. I’ve watched mothers run up to the glass and scream at 10 year-olds who had the audacity to make contact with their child on the ice. I had one mother come over to our place and vent her fury that the coach had the nerve to make her child sit down on the bench by using his hands to gently push him down.

She was talking about pressing assault charges, getting a lawyer, all kinds of crazy stuff.

I’d say roughly 25 percent of hockey parents are bat-shit nutcases, at least at bantam and below. They dwindle out once you get to high school age. We only have one bleacher coach this year.

In all my years of playing youth hockey I never encountered this from parents. I played quite a bit too - maybe it’s a sign of the times?

But shit, that lady thinking of pressing charges? She does know how rough hockey is right?