One of the issues that many parents have with signing their child up for youth wrestling is the sheer length of most wrestling tournaments. While sports like basketball, baseball, and football have games that last no more than a couple of hours, some wrestling tournaments can span all day. Given that your child will only be in action for a few minutes of this time, attending a youth wrestling tournament can feel like a bit of a lost Saturday.
There is no shortage of things to do at a youth wrestling tournament, from helping your child study for school to taking him or her around the concourse to check out wrestling merchandise. In fact, when used properly, the down time at youth wrestling tournaments can be some of the most quality time you will spend with your child.
The important thing to remember is that you have the power to determine whether a wrestling tournament is the cause of a lost weekend or the focal point behind an extremely enriching day with your family. If you spend all day browsing your phone and wishing that the tournament would just end, then you will build resentment toward the sport; however, if you use the time for a day’s worth of quality interaction with your child that your busy schedule does not allow during the work week, then the all-day nature of wrestling tournaments can be a golden opportunity.
Study and Catch Up on Homework
If you have any prior experience with youth wrestling tournaments, then you have probably already lived the scenario:
Brackets are posted at 8:00 AM and you see that your child has a “bye” the first round, with his first match set to be bout number 160. Seeing that there are only 8 mats at the tournament, that equates to roughly 20 matches before your child is set to compete, which could take hours. Oh, and the tournament does not start until 9:00 AM, giving you yet another hour to wait. What to do with all of that time?!?
One of the most beneficial things you can do at a youth wrestling tournament is use the down time to do homework and study with your children. As a substitute teacher, I get a glimpse into a wide cross-section of classroom settings, and those students who do work with their parents outside of class are lightyears ahead of those who only focus on academics during school hours.
Even if your child does not have any homework assigned, challenge him or her with something more. Kids love to show off for adults and demonstrate what they are capable of. Some creative ways to expedite your child’s education at a wrestling tournament include using a wrestling scorebook to help them with their math, making a dent in the College Board’s recommended reading list, and looking at the various cities and states on wrestling brackets and having your child locate them on a map.
Call Friends and Family
We live in a world where everyone has time to tag someone else in a post, but no one has time to hold a meaningful conversation.
Sitting in the stands on a wrestling weekend is the ideal time to get in touch with all of those people you have been meaning to get in touch with. Be sure to put the phone on speaker so that the whole family has a chance to say hi.
Re-Watch Your Matches
When I was a youth wrestler, there were four things we brought into the arena every tournament: the fanny pack, in which we kept bands aids, ointments, and any other first-aid items; the wrestling bag that contained all wrestling shoes, headgear, and warm-up clothes; the food bag with all of our snacks and beverages for the day; and the camera bag, which consisted of the gigantic cam-recorder, blank VHS tapes, extra batteries and chargers, and all other accessories.
While the first three bags remain relevant in 2020, the camera bag has fortunately gone the way of the dodo bird. Gone are the days in which my mom had to tote around 50 pounds of camera gear and spend all day Sunday finalizing videos so we could watch our matches on Sunday evening, replaced with sleek tablets that can be slid into a small backpack and that give you the ability to re-watch your matches within minutes of completion, allowing your wrestler to learn from his or her mistakes while waiting for that next match.
Watch Great Wrestlers and Try to Mimic Their Style
Although wrestling is humanity’s oldest sport, it gets relatively little mainstream attention. While there are a number of streaming services that now allow you to watch great wrestling online, most charge a subscription and are not included as part of any regular cable or streaming packages.
As such, one of the best ways to watch wrestling is in-person. Given that most wrestling tournaments consist of a wide array of age and ability levels, there is a very real chance for your child to watch wrestling at a level to which he or she one day aspires. Take note of more advanced wrestlers’ warm-up habits, how they set-up their attacks, and what types of moves they lean on to score their points.
Try to Meet the Stars of the Sport
One of the hallmarks of wrestling is just how intimate fans and other athletes can get with the stars of the sport. While sitting in the stands at a wrestling tournament, you could very easily be sitting within a few feet of a state, national, or world champion.
Whether or not you are sitting near a wrestling star or have to walk across the arena to meet him or her, it is always fun to take your child to meet such iconic figures. Most wrestlers are extremely laid back and grateful to meet fans and admirers, so make sure you take a no-fade permanent marker with you, as there is a strong possibility that your child will leave the arena with autographed shoes or warm-up gear.
Explore Merchandise Booths
Although most merchandise in 2020 is available for purchase somewhere on the Internet, there are still some gems out there that can only be found in-person. In fact, some of my favorite wrestling shirts were purchased on-site at one of the many youth wrestling tournaments I attended.
Youth wrestlers like to look the part, and walking out of the arena with a commemorative piece of merchandise is a great way for them to build positive associations with the sport, so perusing the merchandise booths in between matches can be time well-spent.
Expand Your Musical Tastes
Over the years, there are a couple of things I have discovered about music:
- I did not initially like many of my favorite songs and albums the first time I heard them. My affinity for them developed over time when I was not actively listening, when my mind was focused on something else and their brilliance sort of “crept up” on me
- Music has been a strong source of association for me throughout the years. Whenever I hear certain songs or albums, I immediately think of prominent people and places from various points in my life
Therefore, try sharing some musical selections with your child to listen to during warm-ups or while sitting in the stands between matches. It is very likely that he or she will grow to enjoy the music and think of those early wrestling memories when hearing these tunes.
While the length of wrestling tournaments is a deterrent for some parents who are considering the sport as an option for their child, the abundant down time in between matches can be a golden opportunity to enrich your relationship with your family. From studying with your child to exploring the merchandise choices that are unique to the wrestling community, there are many things you can do to add value to your weekends spent in a wrestling arena.