West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Being a Wrestling Parent

How can you be a shining example as a wrestling (or athletic) parent? Ideally, sports are suppose to teach wholesome values that the participants can live by throughout their lives--and you, as parents, can help. How you react and what you say during stressful circumstances does affect your child's perceptions of sports and life in general. We are our experiences.

Let me cite two hypothetical wrestling examples that I believe will illustrate my point.

Situation #1--Your son loses his match due to a very close or questionable call. Should you be happy? No. But how you handle the situation with your child will stay with him a lifetime. Telling your son the referee cheated will not help him be a better person. A much better approach would be to say, "That was a close call that just didn't go your way, son. Don't stop working hard and sooner or later the breaks will go your way, too."

Situation #2--You are not pleased with a decision the coach has made regarding your boy. The worst thing you could do is undermine and belittle the coach in front of your son. Why?-- because he will probably do the same at practice, lowering the morale of other team members. If you are truly concerned about the coach's decision, the best course of action would be to talk it out with the coach in private. He will respect you for it and may even reconsider if you made a valid point. But more importantly, you will have taught your son to show respect for his coach, understanding that being a coach requires difficult decisions at times.

Yes, it's tough being parents nowadays. The last lesson you want to teach your sons is how to blame others and make excuses when things aren't perfect. Instead, teach them how to be responsible individuals, accepting the bad with the good, because everything works out in the end with sincere effort.

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Updated October 25, 1997