If you are new to wrestling and want to understand how it all works, this quick guide will help.  If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to Coach Donovan at donovan@levelupwrestling.com

For more about the benefits of wrestling, read Why Kids Should Wrestle.

What exactly is wrestling?

  • The oldest sport – Wrestling is the oldest sport known to man and is even depicted in cave drawings and the Bible. This is NOT pro-wrestling/WWE or mixed martial arts (i.e. UFC).  There is no punching, kicking, chokes or submissions.  It is a “grappling” sport however, where you score points for physically controlling your opponents.  You can win a match by scoring more points or by “pinning” the back of their shoulders to the mat.
  • Three styles – There are three primary forms of wrestling in the US. Folkstyle occurs in college, high school and youth wrestling, but we also participate in the Olympic styles of wrestling, Freestyle & Greco Roman.
  • How a match works - A folkstyle wrestling match consists of three periods of whose length varies based on how old you are. Younger kids (from 5 – 10 years old) typically have 1 minute periods where high school periods are 2 min long. A takedown (worth 2 points) occurs when you bring your opponent safely from their feet down to the mat and you gain control behind them. Escapes are worth 1 point, reversing from the bottom to the top position is worth 2 points and holding someone on their back without pinning them can earn “back points”. You Tube has several examples of youth wrestling matches to watch.
  • What age should kids start? 5 years old is usually the youngest kids should start but for those with very short attention spans, we recommend waiting until 6 or 7. But there is no magic number. Many kids start in middle school and even high school and still find plenty of success.

When is wrestling season and what is involved?

Folkstyle season is in the winter, with most teams starting in November and ending in late Feb/early March.  This is often when new wrestlers begin, however at Level Up wrestlers can begin fundamental classes any time of the year. See below for the difference between Level Up and the school based teams.

  • Practices – School based teams practice between 2-3x per week usually for 1.5 to 2 hours. Kids DO NOT have to try out and everyone gets to participate. Kids are paired up based on age, size and experience level. If you are starting at Level Up during a different time of year, fundamentals practices are Tues/Thurs from 5:30 – 6:30 and as they progress, open practices are Mon-Thurs 6:30 – 8:15 and Sun 3:30 – 5:15.
  • Gear – Wrestlers will need wrestling shoes and head gear which can be purchased online or at a local sporting goods store once the season gets close. As part of your registration with a team, you will also purchase a competition uniform. These have typically been one-piece singlets but in 2017 compression shirts and shorts were allowed in competition.
  • Competitions – Each weekend there are events through the state where wrestlers compete based on their age group, weight class and experience level. These take place at local high schools. Ages are 6u, 8u, 10u, 12u and 14u and weight classes are typically separated by 3-5lbs. Coaches from your team will attend these events and help wrestlers from the side of the mat during their matches.
    • Novice Tournaments – In Georgia there are Novice tournaments held on Sundays that are restricted to 1st and 2nd year wrestlers only. These typically last from 11 – 3/4pm and wrestlers are grouped into “round robin” brackets of 4-5 so they are guaranteed matches.
    • Open Tournaments – Once a wrestler is having success at Novice tournaments they should move up to the open ones. This should occur as soon as they’ve done well at 2-3 Novice ones. Part of developing in wrestling adapting to incrementally better opponents. Open tournaments are split into two age groups so you don’t have to be there all day. 6u, 8u and 10u compete in the morning typically from 8-12pm and 12u & 14u compete from 12:30 – about 4:30/5pm.
    • Dual meets – Some teams also compete head-to-head as a team with one wrestler per weight class at a time while the rest of the team cheers them on.
  • End of the Season – The season culminates with the State tournament. Even if you are a 1st year wrestler, this should be on your radar. In the past there have been qualifiers but recently has moved to an open tournament. In addition, in 2017 Team Georgia added a Novice Championship. This isn’t meant to replace the state tournament but is a great way to see how you stack up against all the other novice wrestlers.
  • Costs – Compared to other sports, wrestling is inexpensive. School based feeder programs usually have a registration fee around $100 – $175 which includes a uniform, apparel, etc. Tournaments are $15. For shoes and headgear, you should start off with the cheapest available. Shoes can be found for $35 and headgear is around $20-$25. You will also need a USA Wrestling membership through Team Georgia. This is $36 and provides supplemental insurance. Private training centers such as Level Up can vary in prices but are still inexpensive compared to sports like karate, gymnastics, etc. You can find Level Up’s rates at www.levelupwrestling.com/program-rates.

Should we wrestle for Level Up or our school’s feeder program?

If you are starting in the off season, then you would start in Level Up’s fundamentals classes which are held 2x per week. As you progress, you can move up into the open practices held Mon-Thurs and Sun.

However, if you are starting during the folkstyle winter season, we recommend participating with the school based feeder programs.  Why?

  • Practices – There will be more beginners in their room as partners, many of which are friends at school. This makes it more fun when they start.
  • Coaches – They will attend the Sunday novice tournaments. Since Level Up is open on Sunday coaches are not available to be at these tournaments.

Supplementation – What many parents do is supplement at Level Up. They will attend the fundamentals practices on days the team isn’t practicing or, as they gain experience, will start attending the open sessions 1-2x a week.

Progression – Once a wrestler gains experience, many choose to either go part time at their local program or some will switch to Level Up full time. That is completely a parent/wrestler decision.  It is important to seek out partners who will challenge your wrestler to get better. Good coaching is important, but you can’t progress without adapting to challenges.  In the Level Up open practices, there is a mix of both intermediate and experienced wrestlers so in addition to having partners that will push them, they would also have those they are competitive with.

For more about the process of development read The Progression of a Wrestler.

Year-Round Wrestling

If they enjoy the sport there are opportunities to train in other seasons.  They should play other sports but many will still get in 1-2 days a week depending on the time of year.  Wrestling is a sport with many layers and it’s easy to get rusty when you’ve had a year off. After folkstyle season, the year can be broken up as follows:

  • Olympic Style Wrestling (March – May) – One of THE best ways to improve for the next season is to wrestle Freestyle & Greco-Roman Wrestling. These are a ton of fun. Kids can simply practice or also compete in weekend tournaments. There are state, regional and national level opportunities through Team Georgia. For brand new wrestlers, Level Up still holds “fundamental” practices 2x per week which are folkstyle based.
  • Summer Wrestling (June – July) – Nightly practices as well as several summer camps are available to continue improving your skills. Even just 1-2 days a week can make a HUGE difference in progressing to next levels. Plus, having a regular summer activity can help those long days pass by quicker.
  • Fall / Pre-Season Wrestling (Aug – Oct) – Whether you come 1-2 days a week while playing another sport OR you make wrestling your fall sport, this time can really help prepare for the winter season.

Hopefully this was helpful. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact Coach Donovan Panone at donovan@levelupwrestling.com.