Hey Everyone , Im back with another Blog post on a topic that has been coming up more and more in the last few years as female wrestling has been growing rapidly. 10-15 years ago we may have seen 1-2 female wrestlers in the high school divisions in our entire section with maybe 20-30 in our state. Back then girls rarely had a choice to compete against boys as that is all the competition they had for the most part. Things are a changing and it is opening up a lot of great opportunities for female wrestlers as we are now seeing all girls tournaments and Divisions for girls only throughout the state. We are also seeing more female college programs being put together and more recently we are even seeing them at the Division 1 level. My oldest son is currently wrestling for Columbia university and they have a small group of girls who are practicing together throughout the season and even traveling with the team to get matches abroad as they too are looking to build a program. So this is an exciting time for girls wrestling.
I am here to answer some of the questions I get from my parents of female wrestlers who may either be new to the sport of wrestling or just new to having their daughter in the sport. Should they be training , competing separately from the boys? I say heck no!! Girls just like boy wrestlers should take advantage of every wrestling opportunity that comes their way. They should be training no differently. When it comes to training partners , you do not need to go seek out girls to wrestle with. Sure , it is nice to have another girl or 2 in the gym for camaraderie however just like the boys, when it comes to training you want her with the best partners she can get regardless of gender. All you need is a good drilling partner and when going live someone she can beat, someone she has good matches with and someone that kicks her butt. This may take some time as no wrestler usually starts out by having kids they just beat, but in time as she is cutting her teeth in the sport of wrestling she should progress and start getting some wins. The biggest mistake I am seeing made today is parents thinking they need to join a gym with a bunch of girls or specifically have your female wrestler training with girls only. What is happening is those parents are limiting their wrestler to a smaller group of partners that may differ in age , weight and experience and limit the skill of partners they are forced to train with. I had a parent of one of my young female wrestlers also ask me about competitions as they had seen another local high school female wrestler competing all over the country. Personally at this stage of the game and on my checkbook or budget I would not suggest flying your daughter all over the country to compete in female only competitions even if they are labeled as a national championship or however they want to promote a tournament to try to give it notoriety .
I do recommend putting her in every female only division or tournament you can locally or even statewide to bordering states but don't go nuts or broke sending her to a tournament 5 states a way to compete in a 8 person bracket. While female wrestling is growing it still lacks depth so even a tournament labeled a national tournament is generally filled with new and mid level wrestlers and remember a tournament is only as good as the level of competition in it. You would be better off staying local or within the state and hitting those girls tournaments and mixing in with the boys to get more levels of competition while she is developing. The money you saved on travel expenses can be better served going towards some private lessons or a clinic or camp. Some coaches push the girls to travel and go and win a big named tournament with no one else in it, to gain some publicity for the wrestling program but that juice just isn't worth the squeeze in my opinion. I tell my male wrestlers the same thing. Many of whom have aspirations of competing in college some day. You can develop right here at home, I have 2 boys , 1 wrestling in a Division 1 college program and another on the way to next year and we never took a flight anywhere to wrestle in a tournament. Nobody should feel like they have to go broke trying to get their wrestler to competitions to make them successful .
Lastly , allow her to compete on her high school team. Im seeing some high school girls who get so caught up in winning girls tournaments that they feel pressured to not take a loss vs a boy and may not even wrestle the high school season because of it. Win or lose that competition is going to make you better. If you look back to our best female competitors over time, they all wrestled the boys season and the top 3 that come to mind locally all did pretty well because of it, later on competing at higher levels in the sport. Some coaches are recommending girls not wrestle the season to prevent injury. Personally I think you do need to use caution but no more than we do with the boys. One thing these big name national female tournaments or Fargo do is give a false sense of confidence to athletes and coaches in some cases. If a girl is in a 8 person bracket and beats 2 beginners and places at Fargo and is an all american, all of a sudden a parent or coach may think they are ready to conquer the world. I personally saw this a couple years back. The next thing you know a coach wrestled her at a tough tournament , she got domed and injured.She probably didn't belong in that tournament just yet. It all comes down to developing your wrestler. This wrestler was not the varsity starter at the time but was double entered into a tournament and a poor decision made by the coach. Injuries or accidents like this dissuade girls from wanting to compete during the season these days but should not. This is wrestling, injuries do happen , the best thing you can do to prevent them is to get better and be smart and realistic about where you should be wrestling. If you are on the varsity team and won the starting spot you should probably be wrestling in most tournaments . If you are the back up and still learning , be smart about what tournaments you wrestle in.
So to sum it up, the best thing you can do for your female wrestler is forget about the gender for the most part. Let her train hard and earn what she gets on the mat. Let he train with the best training partners for her regardless of gender. Get her in tournaments whether it be mixed gender or female divisions but I highly suggest doing both. Lastly , be smart with your wrestler. Girl or boy , give them time and let them develop at their own pace, don't rush to push them into big tournaments or the varsity level until they are winning and have confidence in themselves. If you stick with it and do things right, that will all come in time.