I just went to a tournament and we brought about 20 kids. We had one champ, two runner ups, and a kid who placed third. The tournament was a fun place for those 4 to learn and compete. The issue is my other 16 kids. Many of them went 0-2 and learned very little in the 11 hours from weigh-ins to leaving. I look around, and there are a lot of teams like mine where there are plenty of kids on the team who donít need official competitions but rather need time and coaching to develop their skills. I would love to see tournaments offer a varsity bracket for the kids that are ready for the competition and a workshop/practice/scrimmage mat or two for kids to learn from other coaches, get a feel for what it's like to wrestle different bodies, and make friends.
I know there are plenty of logistical difficulties, but it is time for us to evolve. I am tired of going to tournaments so my competitive kids can get real competition while my non-competitive kids learn very little, and I donít like the idea of just bringing 4-6 kids. I also donít have the staffing/resoiurces to send my JV kids to a JV tournament every time my varsity goes, so they come with us, and we try and get them matches. Even when there are JV tournaments - a lot of my JV kids donít actually need more competition, they just need to practice and learn more. This would also help tournaments run faster because there would be smaller brackets if we remove the kids who are not ready for whatever level of competition is at that tournament.
For any kid that goes 0-2 we could have them do workshops after they lose their second match versus just saying ďok, you are done wrestling today at 11:30, now go support your team for the next 5 hours.Ē
How we do tournaments is my first issue.
My second issue is the way we do weigh-ins are outdated. If we want to get kids to stop cutting so much weight, then the answer is so simple. Have a scale by every mat. Kids step on the scale before they wrestle. If they make weight, they wrestle if they donít make weight, then they donít wrestle. If we move to this style of weigh-ins, kids would not be able to game the system. Kids canít maintain a weight cut throughout the day, and if they donít get an hour to recover, then they canít even maintain one for a dual meet. This rule change would force kids to wrestle their natural weight, and I think would be so much better for the sport. Weight classes are just to get kids in approximate size groupings anyway, so why not make it harder to game the system?
Added benefit of this style is we donít have to have teams arrive by 7:00 or 7:30 to weigh in - teams can get there with enough time to warm up before the tournament starts. We can also get rid of the weight assessment at the beginning of the season because kids wouldnít be cutting weight. We wouldnít have to do weigh-ins next to each other anymore (which is already a ridiculous rule, so what - the kids can size each other up?). And please, please always weigh in from lightweight to heavy weight. It is so confusing for my kids when we draw a number out of a hat last minute and shuffle the kids around, so we start at 145 or something random. Even if we start the dual at 145, I hate reorganizing the weight line.
These are some of my musings - I just think it's time to change. It is such a big ask for the most dedicated wrestlers to give up Saturdays and wake up before dawn just so they can get a few matches. It is an even bigger ask for the fringe wrestlers who want to try and are just learning to do the same for only two matches that might be over pretty quickly. We need to think about all the kids not just our competitive ones in order to grow the sport.
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