7 Fears Of Non-Wrestling Dads


November 16, 2010 by David Gillaspie

(and wrestling dads)

Join the fun


1.  Fear Of My Kid

“If my kid wrestles, I’ll lose my physical dominance over them.  My kid will learn how to kick my butt in more ways than I’ve ever thought of.” 

It’s a real concern, but that’s the idea.  You could find a psychological term, but it’s not that complex.  When junior stomps father, or when father figures it out without the stomping part, it’s time to show some initiative. 

N-W Dad needs to find time to make an important wrestling bond, the ‘I don’t know how to quit’ bond.

When it’s just you and the kid in the house sitting around, ask him to show you his two-on-one.  He’ll most likely wrap his hands around your wrist.  

After he does that, take a break, then show him your two-on-one from a standing position. 

Take his right wrist in your left hand then transfer it to your right hand.  Grip his right forearm with your left hand and move it around.  The kid will move according to which way you push his arm.  Grip his arm tight, but not too tight. 

Not yet.

Tell young wrestler he doesn’t have the tricky wrestling skills to make you let go of his arm. 

Now hang on tight. 

He’ll pull his arm away, but you don’t let go.  He’ll attack your grip.  Maybe he goes straight to the hammer and starts beating on your wrist, but that’s not wrestling and it’s dangerous.

While holding the kid’s arm, explain the math: out of your four limbs, two are busy.  Out of his four, only one is busy.  Don’t say anything more.  He’ll do one of two things. 

Either one means your done.

He’ll try to pick a knee and crowd into the two-on-one, make you more aware of your balance than his.  After he does that, let go or get dumped on the floor.

Or, he’ll crowd you and rip at your hands.  Remind him of the math again: one thumb is easier to beat than four fingers.  Once he crowds you off balance and rips his arm loose through your thumbs, let go or get dumped on the floor. 

There’s no round two for the N-W Dad without the usual consequences of house wrestling:  broken chairs, couches without legs, low hanging pictures covering wall dents.

Round one is enough to show you care.   

2.  Fear That My Kid Won’t Be Good Enough

Cherish the moments you feel your kid won’t be good enough to make the team, or win a match, a tournament, a regional, a national, a world, an Olympics. 

When your kid acts like he understands the idea of making a decision, like middle school, tell him you were afraid to let him wrestle as a little kid.  Tell him you were afraid of losing time with him to wrestling. 

Then tell him you were afraid of turning a wildcat like him lose on a sport where he’d probably like it too much and work too hard and win too often.


3.  Lose Status As King Of My Corner

Re-read #1? 

If you’re the father of sons, who do you expect to show them how to be men?  You hope it’s not all on you, but it is.  When a kid screws up it’s because of no paternal influence; when they succeed it’s all because of mom.

You’re not going to change that, you’re going to enhance it.

How?  By sharing. 

Each Christmas, take your particular awards and treasures and wrap them as gifts to your sons.  Let them know you trust them enough to bequeath them your most cherished worldly possessions before you die.

At the end of each Christmas Day collect those same presents and tell the kids you’ll keep them safe for them.  Add something extra to the same presents each year, a fraternity pin, a unique coin.

If you don’t have anything else to add as the years go on, buy something.  And don’t be cheap.

You’re still the king. 

You’ll be remembered when a ref makes a bad call in a big match. 

4.  My Kid Makes Me Feel Old

If your last match was twenty years ago and you have a kid wrestling now, you are old.  Hit the gym so you will fit in with the other Wrestling Dads. 

The longer your kid wrestles, the less you’ll be able to lean on the Non-Wrestling Dad crutch. 

Eventually, you’ll see enough wrestling and mix it up often enough with your kid to know how to work the mat.

You evolve, no matter the age, and that doesn’t come with a specific number.

5.  What If My Kid Wrestles A Friend’s Kid

You want your kid to dominate, no matter if your friend is your twin brother or someone from second grade.  If you want your kid to go easy on your pal’s kid, and he finds out, it’ll be all the worse the next time they wrestle.

“I didn’t mean quit trying.  Just go easy.”

“Dad, I was going easy.  Next time I won’t.”

“You cross-faced him so hard his mouth guard flew out.”

“I wish more kids would wear them.  I’m tired of their teeth scraping my arm.”

“Then don’t cross-face everyone.”

“Okay, Dad.  Good one.  You’re killing me.” 

6.  My Family Doesn’t Like Wrestling

You’re a white-collar family, maybe insurance business, or jobs with the state.  Maybe you’re a manager, or a V-P of sales.  You might own your own business in organic footwear and pure-tone chimes, or run a free-roaming lizard ranch. 

The point is, you don’t see yourself sitting all day in a gym lit by sick green fluorescents, peeling oranges and cutting apples, and watch your kid sweating and huffing after a match looking happier than you’ve ever seen him.

You’ll never see him happier, or more infused, with untainted joy.  His first win; his first pin; his buddies’ first wins and pins. 

You can’t miss that, you just can’t.  Being there and sharing those moments is what living is. 

Does this mean you’re officially living through your kid? 

Not for Non-Wrestling Dad. 

7.  How Do I Celebrate When My Kid Wins

Your kid goes to novice meets two years in a row.

You’ve seen your kid rag-dolled at novice meets by others who were obviously not novice wrestlers.  His unofficial record is zero for all his matches.  His first win is still out there, hiding, and you can’t find it.

More important, you don’t know why he doesn’t quit wrestling and find something else to do.  He’s not a good wrestler.  He’s had his own arm wrapped twice around his own neck.  He got hit in the crotch so bad they had to stop the match and bounce him on the mat to get things to drop back where they belong.

You explain how different body-types are better for different sports.  You explain it ten different ways and your kid doesn’t understand that you mean his body-type isn’t right for wrestling. 

So you take a chance and say, “Your body-type isn’t right for wrestling.”

“There’s no right body-type for wrestling, just the right attitude.”

“Your bones connect with looser ligaments than most.  So do mine.  Look, I can touch my fingers behind my back.”

“Pretty good, Dad.  Limber.”

“Too limber.  Okay son, I’ll say it.  I worry about you wrestling.  I’m afraid something could happen.”

“I love you, Dad.  I do.  And I’m glad you worry.  I worry too.  But I worry more that something won’t happen.  If something doesn’t happen on the mat, it’s called stalling.  When I see you at my matches, I know you’re not stalling on me.  I’m learning how to do more all the time.  When I win a match one day, you’ll be there to see it.  That’s why I’m wrestling.”

How do you celebrate your kids’ wins?


3 thoughts on “7 Fears Of Non-Wrestling Dads

  1. Todd Vogel says:

    Nice Article on Fears of Non-wrestling Dads. I am a wrestling dad, we are a wrestling family!!! I have 12yr old twin boys who fell in love with the sport without being pushed. I loved it so much I became the Head Coach and Administrator of our school district’s elementary program. If I could get paid close to my full time job I would quit in a heartbeat and be happy to go to work everyday!!!!!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Todd sent an email and I asked him to post it here. How many Wrestling and Non-wrestling Dads feel the same way Todd feels? If your athlete takes the initiative to start wrestling, join in. The more time you share with your kid in the good and stressful times of wrestling, the more help you’ll be later. Why? Because you and your kid share a trust that goes beyond sports, but it includes sports. Since wrestling is the best sport for real athletes, you’ll have the best relationship down the line.

      Thanks for the great comment Todd, and make sure your twins keep up their good choices. Go get ’em, boys. This link points to an amazing wrestling page that treats DG’s B&B right: http://wrestlingsbest.com/wreslink1.html It’s just the thing to go through together.


  2. David Gillaspie says:

    The worry you start with goes away forever. Why? Because your kid learns how to wrestle.

    The better they get the more they worry about you, but that’s another post.


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