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5 Tips for Surviving Youth Wrestling Tournaments

Over the years, I spent plenty of cold winter days at youth wrestling tournaments, and plenty of drawn-out weekends at high school wrestling tourneys. As if the wrestling matches themselves weren't tough enough, making sure you had everything you needed to pass the time was always a challenge.

In the hope that my experience could help someone else, here are my tips on surviving youth wrestling tournaments.

First: keep a pair of nail clippers in your wrestling bag. The tournaments are long enough already, and don't need to get held up by refs sending kids to the side to get their nails clipped before the first match.

Second: avoid bleacher butt by keeping one pillow in the wrestling bag for every butt that's going to be in those bleachers all day. These can double as a cushy place for your head if you find somewhere to take a snooze. (Just don't sleep through a match!) Also, get up and move around -- this keeps the blood moving and helps to stave off that bleacher pain.

Third: put your name on all of your wrestling equipment. There's so much floating around, you don't need to risk losing yours. We used to find shoes and headgear all the time beneath the bleachers.

Fourth: bring healthy, energy snacks. Most tournaments sell junk food, and you hardly want to encourage surges and drops of energy during the day, which is what injections of sugar do for you. And you don't want to feel lethargic because of greasy burgers and fries.

This is especially important for high school wrestlers who are trying to watch their weight. Roller-coast blood sugar levels cause hunger and can lead to weight gain.

Fifth: bring something to pass the time. There's a lot of time between matches. Books, homework, even Gameboys (with earphones) are good ways to enjoy yourself or to be productive along the way. (Mom or Dad might be able to even get some work done.)

For the wrestler at any tournament, practice is the main way to prepare for tournaments. But by following these tips, you can make it through the down time and enjoy the experience just a little more.

Steve McCardell spent several years in youth wrestling before making varsity for the high school wrestling team 4 years straight. He was coached in high school by Pat Milkovich of the famous Milkovich wrestling family and believes that the wrestling shot taught by Pat was key to his and his team's success. Steve teaches this wrestling shot in his e-book, "Just One Step," online at