May 20, 2015
In the United States it is most likely that your child’s coach cut weight, his coach cut weight, and his coach cut weight. With that long history of weight cutting, it is almost guaranteed that your child’s coach is going to encourage them to cut weight. They will look at a wrestler who has probably never wrestled before, never done any strength training, knows absolutely nothing about nutrition, and tell them that they need to lose 10 or 20 pounds. It is a classic case of monkey see, monkey do, and it’s hard to blame coaches that do this. They are just doing what they’ve learned. Also when a new wrestler looks around and sees his teammates starving themselves, running around in plastics all the time, practicing with multiple layers of clothes on, and spitting in cups, it’s not hard to imagine that he will follow suit and do those same things.
As I traveled the world as an athlete, I noticed something that was very different about how other countries approached weight cutting. Sure at the senior level there were still athletes who cut significant amounts of weight, but they were significantly fewer in number who were trying to lose as much weight as some of the US athletes. Instead, I noticed more athletes that would wrestle up a weight class for most of the year, and then they would drop for the world championships or a continental championship. They just wrestled what they weighed for most of the year. I also remember seeing athletes who would decide to permanently move up weight classes. Instead of trying to kill themselves and stay down in a weight class that wasn’t realistic for them, they would just do more strength training in an attempt to get stronger for their new weight class. I imagine that rarely do youth, and high school coaches consider having their athletes just move up weight classes. You’ve got to be brave to wrestle up. At first, it is a challenge to wrestle bigger and stronger opponents, however, you will make the adjustments. Also if your’e being diligent in your strength training, you will get stronger. The body will respond.
There is definitely something to be said about proper nutrition. The American diet can be extremely unhealthy. Packaged and processed food is easy to consume on a regular basis. It is good for athletes to understand that what they put in their bodies will affect their performance not only in competition but in their daily training activities as well. There is also something to be said about having the discipline to lose weight. If you can discipline yourself to be in control of your diet, you can pretty much be disciplined about anything. If kids do want to drop a weight class, it should be a gradual cut. They should start dieting well before the wrestling season even starts. If they make gradual changes far enough out from the wrestling season even starting, they will feel much better and perform much better than if they were to follow the common crash dieting that takes place in various wrestling programs. If kids are very young and still growing, they should be getting what their bodies need to grow and develop. Making little kids cut weight is a terrible idea. If you have your little kid cutting a lot of weight while they are young, chances are they won’t be wrestling much when they are older.
The most helpful thing that a parent can do to help change the paradigm of needing to cut weight is to educate their child about proper nutrition. The parent can also help their child by working with their child. If you want your child to do things a certain way, show them how. Your example will be the greatest teacher that they will ever have. You can help them lose weight the right way by doing it yourself. You can help them with getting stronger by doing it yourself. You will feel better and your kids will respect you more for it. There are too many kids that quit wrestling too early because of bad weight cuts. The sport is hard enough without trying to do it while starving.