Folkstyle wrestling is a wrestling style that you’ll commonly find taught in American schools and colleges. Though the sport is fun and rewarding, it is common for parents to wonder if high school wrestling is dangerous.
Wrestling is one of the more dangerous sports you can join in high school. Injuries are more common in high school wrestling than in most sports. However, all high school sports are potentially dangerous and there are rules to keep high school wrestling safer than other forms of wrestling.
High school wrestling isn’t as dangerous as the Olympic styles such as freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling. While any wrestling style can be potentially dangerous, wrestlers can increase safety on the mat with the proper coaching and supervision.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the risks of high school wrestling as well as what coaches and competitors alike can do to keep everyone safe on the mat. If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, keep on reading.
What Are The Dangers of High School Wrestling?
Although there are many benefits to wrestling in high school, there are also disadvantages that accompany the sport.
Injuries Are Common in High School Wrestling
The first significant con with high school wrestling (and almost any sport) is potential injuries. Wrestling is very competitive, and there is always a chance of injury. It is important to train to help prevent these potential injuries, but even the best-trained wrestlers can get hurt.
So, if getting injured is a major concern of yours, wrestling may not be the right choice for you. That said, it should be noted that just about all high school sports report injuries.
Ringworm and Staph Infections
Both ringworm and staph are common in high school wrestling. Though ringworm should also be taken seriously, a staph infection can become very dangerous if not properly treated.
There are many reasons why wrestlers get staph infections, the most common is from dirty mats or skin-to-skin contact.
To reduce the potential of getting a staph infection, make sure your train in a clean gym and that you shower with anti-fungal soap after every wrestling workout. For more on this check out my article: 7 tips to help you avoid ringworm when wrestling.
These same tips will also help you avoid staph infections as well. That being said, staph infections and ringworm are always going to be a risk associated with high school wrestling.
Cauliflower ear is another potential danger of high school wrestling. That said, this can typically be avoided by training with protective headgear.
Oftentimes, however, students might choose to practice without it. So make sure that you always train with proper headgear.
You should understand that cauliflower ear can lead to dangers down the road. There are reasons beyond the aesthetics you want to avoid cauliflower ear. In extreme situations, it can even lead to hearing loss.
For more on this refer to my article: Why Do Wrestlers Get Cauliflower Ear?
Potential Dangers Of Cutting Weight In High School Wrestling
Wrestling focuses heavily on weight. Adding or cutting weight can affect the weight class that you wrestle in. So, the main idea of wrestling is to try to stay the same weight throughout your entire experience in the sport.
This expectation can put a lot of pressure on a high school student. It may mean that you don’t get to enjoy the same food as your friends. You will need to be aware of your food intake and ensure you get enough nutrients to counter the calories lost when competing.
That being said, the more potentially dangerous concern is extreme weight cutting using dehydration and other drastic measures. Though extreme weight cuts should be discouraged by coaches, that does not always mean that they will do what is right. Some coaches will encourage kids to drastically cut weight for the sport.
On top of that, your kid might even decide to do an extreme weight cut even if their coaches do not encourage it. So I would recommend talking to you them and making sure they are not doing any drastic weight cuts.
Of course, simply staying in shape and reducing a modest amount of body fat is not the same thing as a drastic weight cut. Here is what I mean by a drastic and potentially dangerous weight cut.
Dehydration To Cut Weight For Wrestling
Dehydration is an effective way of cutting weight by reducing the water or fluid content in the body. Generally, a sudden decrease in the body’s fluid content causes a decline in strength, mental alertness, and general body endurance.
If dehydrated wrestlers engage in heavy exercises, they may experience muscle cramps, dizziness, or — in extreme cases — swelling of the brain, which can cause seizures.
Dehydration is easily noticeable by checking the color of the urine. Clear urine shows that one is well hydrated, while dark urine (yellowish or similar to apple juice) is a sign of dehydration.
Unhealthy Weight Loss Products
Plastic, sauna, and garbage suits help to trigger water loss by increasing the sweating rate when exercising. As a result, they can cause dehydration and heatstroke because they can overheat the body very quickly.
Weight loss pills and laxatives facilitate rapid weight loss but cause negative long-term health issues such as liver problems.
Extreme Calorie Restriction
While reducing calorie intake goes along with the weight loss journey, extreme reductions in calories can be dangerous for a high school wrestler. Sure you will lose weight but you might also drain all of your energy.
Greatly reducing your carbs for example can cause your body to drop a lot of water and electrolytes. Of course, many people have great success losing weight by dropping carbs but this can cause trouble if you don’t know what you are doing.
On top of that, reducing calories to drastic levels for weight cutting when you’re still growing is probably not the best idea. When done at extremes it can even stunt your growth.
Dangerous and Illegal Moves Within High School Wrestling
One of the best ways to keep yourself and your opponents safe on the mats in understanding the rules of High School wrestling. In turn, you need to understand what moves are illegal and dangerous.
It’s important to note that these moves are illegal to keep wrestlers safe on the mat.
Executing a figure four on either the head or the body is an illegal move in all wrestling styles. Performing this move on your opponent will result in immediate disqualification, so you must avoid this technique at all costs.
If a figure four is executed to the arm or the leg, the referee will stop the move immediately, but it may not result in disqualification. If a wrestler performs a figure four onto their opponent’s arm or leg, it may result in a penalty, which will allow your opponent to score against you.
This can potentially become a hazardous move, so that’s why it’s deemed illegal in all forms of wrestling.
Suppose a wrestler is in the bridge position while on the mat; it is illegal to lift them and throw them down afterward. This can result in serious injury, so avoid lifting your partner, especially in folkstyle wrestling.
While some freestyle wrestling styles may allow slamming down your opponent onto the mat, it’s best to avoid this kind of technique in folkstyle wrestling. Instead of throwing your opponent down, it’s best to force them down while already in the bridge position.
Double Leg Hook
While this technique is not illegal, it can be a hazardous move, and it could result in a penalty point for your opponent. If you hook your leg around your opponent to avoid being thrown, the referee will put an immediate stop to the match.
While this move is technically allowed on the mat, it’s important to note that it can result in serious injury and is deemed one of the more dangerous wrestling moves. Keeping this in mind will ensure that you and your opponent stay safe and injury-free at the end of every match.
Gear To Help Keep You Safe On The Mats
Another important factor to keep in mind when participating in high school wrestling is the necessary gear you’ll need. It’s crucial to invest in the right gear to keep yourself safe on the mat.
Any style of wrestling can potentially become dangerous if you don’t come to practice or tournaments prepared. Below, we’ll explore what high school wrestlers will always need to have on hand.
Investing in the correct kind of wrestling shoes is key to keeping yourself out of harm’s way on the mat. It’s important to note that you must have shoes built for wrestling, and any old pair of gym shoes won’t cut it.
There are a ton of reasons ( including safety ) that wrestlers wear shoes.
Wearing the proper clothing is also key to keeping yourself and your opponent safe during a match. Singlets are highly recommended to wrestlers, as they are form-fitting and won’t get in the way of you trying to take down your opponent.
Some wrestlers may be able to get away with something like board shorts while wrestling, but it’s important to note that they should be free of pockets and should still be somewhat form-fitting.
Protective Gear For Folkstyle Wrestling
Components such as a mouthguard and headgear are essential, and you’ll be lucky you have them at the end of every match.
Not only will a mouthguard protect your teeth from any unwanted damage, remember to also wear protective headgear to avoid cauliflower ear.
Cauliflower ear is not only somewhat you want to avoid due to its appearance, but it may also result in poor health consequences at the end of the day.
It’s crucial to have both of these pieces of gear on hand every time you plan on hitting the mat.