Thursday, February 4, 2010


D, my five year old, had his first wrestling practice last night. It is through our local YMCA, and is completely in the "recreational" category - not seriously competitive. For this age group, it's all about learning about the sport and having fun. I can get behind that for a five year old. I'm not one of those people who think competition is bad and kids should always win every time. But wrestling is an intense sport, and it's all you out there. That's a lot for a five year old to handle, and I don't want to overwhelm him.

D is not a big kid. He's been squarely in the 50th percentile for height and weight since he was a baby, he always fits into the clothing size that corresponds for his age - he's quite average sized. Among the group of wrestlers last night, he looked absoultely miniature. He's probably the youngest kid there. It goes by birth year, and the cutoff is 2004 - his birthday is December, so he barely makes the cut. It's likely a lot of the kids in the "Pee wee" class are already in kindergarten, although there might be a couple with birthdays later in the year like him. But he was easily one of the three smallest kids there. He looked ridiculously cute, all decked out in his dark blue singlet, wrestling shoes and head gear. With the outfit, he looked like a real wrestler, just shrunk down to mini-size. As I watched him warm up I almost got teary eyed - he just looked so darn small!

Last night's practice was pretty basic. They didn't do any real wrestling, just a lot of warm up and drills. One of the last things they did was a drill that requires one kid to be on hands and knees, and another kid to be chest down on top and sort of spin their body around the lower kid. It's not an easy skill to master, and most of the younger kids had a hard time with it. D told me on the way home that maybe next time he just won't do the "spin thing." I told him he needs to try again, and we talked about how practice makes you better and helps you learn. He replied with, "But I already know how to do it. I saw what the coach did." So I told him, "Yeah, your brain knows what to do because you saw someone else do it. But now you have to teach your body how to do it." That concept totally blew his mind. The rest of the way home he talked about teaching his body how to do things. "I'm going to teach my neck how to lift up a building," and "I can teach my arms how to tackle G (his brother)." The rest I can't remember because honestly, he goes into talk mode and sometimes I just have to tune it out...

I'm curious to see how the rest of the "season" goes. He'll have practices twice a week and a match every other Friday. The program is entirely self-contained; the matches are simply against the same kids they practice with, so it isn't as if they're wrestling other teams. They just organize the kids into pairs and run matches. Right now he's so gung ho about any sports. Whenever we've asked him if he wants to try a sport, he always says yes - he loves it. We had a great experience with t-ball last spring and probably would have had him do soccer in the fall, but with the arrival of Miss E, it was a little too hectic to try to squeeze in sports. He's very excited about the whole thing, and I really hope his enthusiasm continues. I was so not athletic as a kid and my boys' both appear to have athletic tendencies (inherited from their father, I assure you). I'd love for them to continue having fun with it and have that confidence with their bodies that sports provide.

And I have to say, if G decides to do wrestling, that kid is going to be good. With the exposure he's getting through D, and being D's little sparring partner at home, he's already going to know what he's doing before he's even old enough to participate. Add to that the fact that G is not average sized, but pretty big and beefy for his age - he has the potential to be quite the little wrestler :). (If he wants to - my husband may be into sports and strongly encouraging our kids to participate, but he knows all too well how the pressure to do sports can do more harm than good).

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