Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson are considered two of the greatest American wrestlers and coaches of all time. As athletes they both won Olympic Gold Medals Dan Gable in 1972 and Cael Sanderson in 2004. Gable finished his collegiate career with just a single loss while Sanderson went undefeated. As head coaches Gable, now retired led the University of Iowa to 15 NCAA National Team Championships. Sanderson is still actively coaching at Penn State University and has won 9 NCAA National Team Championships.
Dan Gable has been quoted saying: “Once you've wrestled, everything in life is easy.”
This quote is a symbolic representation of what wrestling can teach your child. It’s talking about the life lessons and skill sets that go beyond the wrestling mat. The work ethic, self-discipline, accountability, humility, and mental toughness that wrestling instills in our youth allows them to handle adversity, setbacks, and cope with disappointment in a positive manner. It creates leaders, team players, and productive members of society. Wrestling’s natural gifts and life lessons are everything parents look for in a youth sport.
Cael Sanderson wrote an article entitled "Why My Kids Will Wrestle" below he describes 10 benefits that come from having your child wrestle.
1. Foundation sport
Wrestling is the perfect foundation for all other sports. Wrestling develops and improves an athlete’s balance, agility, hand eye coordination, flexibility, explosiveness, speed, strength, body awareness, footwork, core strength, concentration, and mental toughness. Wrestling will make your child better at all other sports.
Wrestling is a game. It’s the most basic and instinctual game. Toddlers wrestle. The sport of wrestling is the ultimate competition where two individuals take their individual strengths and match them up against each other. Wrestling is a battle of wits, technique, speed, agility, flexibility, and toughness.
Wrestling is one the world’s most premier physical fitness sports. Wrestling develops strength and endurance. Poor health is a major issue in our society today and wrestling can help develop a love of exercise and physical fitness in our youth.
Very little is accomplished without self-confidence. Wrestling teaches self-confidence like nothing else. Insecure people have the most difficult time learning from others and it makes progress even more difficult than it already is. Wrestling teaches hard work, self-improvement, sense of accomplishment, team camaraderie, the 1 on 1 aspect, and self-defense. These promote self-worth, self-respect, and confidence.
Although wrestling is not commonly considered a “martial art,” it is the #1 base discipline in the world of MMA. Wrestlers know how to defend themselves and neutralize threats quickly. Wrestling is about controlling your opponent. If you want your kids to know how to defend themselves, put them in wrestling.
Nothing teaches humility better than a 1-on-1 sport. Winning and losing in a 1-on-1 setting brings humility. There is nowhere to hide and no one to blame but yourself. Every wrestler will lose eventually and in doing so under these conditions it teaches humility. Hard work and discipline are two keys to success in wrestling. They both teach humility.
The challenges of being a wrestler teaches you to respect yourself. After you learn to respect yourself you will learn to respect others. You learn to respect your teammates as well as your opponents. You learn to listen to and respect your coaches. After you learn to respect others you can learn from them, this is a life lesson that wrestling provides.
Wrestling is discipline. It’s a repetition of drills, hard work, weight management, and continually doing the best thing instead of the easiest thing. That’s what discipline is. Wrestling requires postponing instant “wants” and “gratifications” to gain something more valuable long term. It takes discipline and focus to reach your goals in wrestling.
9. Roadmap to success
Wrestling is the perfect example of what it takes to be successful in life. Goal setting, hard work, determination, focus, love of challenges, love of competition, confidence, being coachable, mental toughness, discipline, creativity, teamwork, and accountability.
Wrestling is a physical, contact sport. You learn that sometimes you just get poked in the eye. Physical and mental toughness go hand in hand. You learn that a little pain or struggle is part of the process of doing great things.