How Early Can Kids Start Wrestling Classes?

Our youngest Little Ninjas enjoy the wrestling aspect of Judo, taught in our classes.

If your child is interested in wrestling, then a reasonable next step is wrestling classes. There are many different opinions about when a child should start wrestling and exactly how young they can be. This makes it difficult to determine what the right age is. 

Kids can start wrestling as early as five years old, or as young as 3 if part of martial arts training. They will quickly absorb the information regarding the rules and skills needed to wrestle at that age. Under the eye of a caring coach or teacher, they will learn important life skills, too.

Some parents may think this is too young to learn wrestling, but there are some advantages to starting at this age. We’ll break down those advantages in this article, as well as some ways to keep your kids safe on the mat .

Kids Can Start Wrestling Classes at Age Five

According to most research, kids can start wrestling as early as age five. For those practicing mixed martial arts which includes judo or grappling like our Online Martial Arts Program, kids may even start wrestling as early as age 3. Starting this early has many advantages.

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Early Maturity

Why start wrestling at 5, or martial arts as young as age 3? Well, it has a lot to do with the emotional maturity of your child, but I have almost 30 years teaching experience that tells me most kids are more than capable.  

At this age, your child will understand more about learning from losing and won’t get discouraged by a loss or a bad day. Instead of quitting, they will get back up and continue wrestling without a temper tantrum. Instead, they’ll enjoy the fun of wrestling and learn from their mistakes.

Receptiveness to Learning

A five-year-old child’s brain is like a sponge, giving them the ability to absorb and contain a high volume of new information.

This is important when it comes to wrestling. While a child starts wrestling really young, they can easily retain the rules and basics of the sport. Once a coach tells them what to do once or twice, they store that memory in their brain, and it stays there.

Fitness and Coordination 

Five-year-olds are at the prime age to learn about both fitness and coordination, and wrestling is a great way to teach those skills. It is never too early to teach your child either of these.

Wrestling and Martial Arts are much more than a sport; they are a way of life.

Through wrestling training, your child will learn to become fit by getting active. With the guidance of a specialized coach, your child can get the exercise they need and build muscle and agility at the same time. 

Whenever your child wrestles an opponent or competes in a Martial Arts match, the goal isn’t to hurt them. In wrestling specifically, the goal is to take the opponent to the ground as quickly as they can. Keeping an opponent from moving requires not only strength but leverage, and that requires coordination. 

Discipline and Willpower

Wrestling at five years old requires that an athlete builds these two skills:

  • Discipline
  • Willpower

These skills are very useful for a child to start building up, especially at five. If your five-year-old can learn these skills at their age, then they’ll be unstoppable as they grow up. 

To be a wrestler, your child will have to perform at wrestling matches and work hard during practices; they must be disciplined to keep up. Also, they must gather the willpower to get up after being pinned to the mat for the thousandth time. 

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More Reasons to Start Wrestling Classes at Five

You may want to put your young child in wrestling classes because: 

  • Just about any 5-year-old can learn to wrestle. 
  • Starting early helps to give your young child an edge should they compete in middle school. 

The section below will delve deeper into each of the above points.

Any Five-Year-Old Can Wrestle

There’s nothing to stop any five-year-old with an interest in wrestling from pursuing that dream-not their body type, level of aggression, or skill level. With a good coach, they’ll learn to support their strengths and balance out their weaknesses.

Some sports do require the athletes to be a certain weight or height to apply. For other sports, they might need to develop a toned body or a muscular form to give themselves an edge.

However, wrestling has weight classes. Unlike other sports, your child will be matched with someone whose body type is similar to theirs. 

Wrestling in Middle School 

Another reason to encourage your kids to start wrestling young is to prepare them for middle school. Around middle school age, most schools and gyms have wrestling tournaments and competitions along with clubs.

While starting young isn’t a requirement for middle school wrestling teams, wrestlers who learned basic skills at five years old have an advantage over those just starting out. 

They’ll know the basics by heart, have good muscle memory, and have a few years of experience with how wrestling works.

Gauge your child’s interest in wrestling and encourage them to pursue it as they get older because the skills they’ve learned will give them an advantage.

How to Know if Your Child Is Ready

Starting wrestling at five years old can be a daunting task for both parents and children. But there are a few ways to prepare your child for wrestling and ways to make sure that they are emotionally prepared for the ring.

Your child not only needs to have a deep interest in wrestling but also the maturity to handle it. 

The best way to gauge their interest level is to look for these signs: 

  • They like to play wrestling or to roughhouse with friends
  •  They like watching grappling style matches on the television
  • They want books or ask about wrestling

Once you’ve gauged their interest, ask them if they’d like to learn how to wrestle and see what they think. At 5, they are likely mature enough to handle the ups and downs that come with wrestling. A low-stakes way to figure this out is to try one of our free classes online. Your child will get the opportunity to try out the basics of “wrestling” via martial arts with us!

However, this is a general recommendation, and no one knows your child better than you do. If your five-year-old child throws endless tantrums, waiting until they are older may be the best bet. 

Finding the Right Coach

If your child wants to learn to wrestle, then you’ll need to find a supportive coach and club to teach them. At this point, and at their age, the wrestling should focus on fun and necessary skills. If the coaches are pointing out achievements and proper form more than they are pointing out mistakes, then they are a good fit.

A good coach should be:

  • Gentle
  • Encouraging 
  • Focused on making your child a better wrestler
  • Experienced in national and international competitions.

A good wrestling club shouldn’t focus on tournaments and victories, and most clubs won’t allow anyone under the age of twelve to compete in wrestling tournaments.

Be careful when choosing an instructor that pushes young children to compete too strongly. Martial arts tournaments allow younger children to compete regularly, but they should be fun and only attempted by children show a strong desire.

This makes sure that your children won’t be affected by losing at a young age. They’ll maintain a focus on learning wrestling rather than navigating the environment of tournaments and competitive wrestling. Then, once your child learns the basics, they can graduate to the more competitive side of wrestling or grappling.

There are plenty of growth opportunities for wrestlers, and a good coach can prepare them for those opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Now, you’re well prepared to determine whether your child is ready for wrestling classes.

If your child wants to start wrestling as a sport, the earliest age to start is at five years old, or like our Little Ninjas who can start wrestling as the Judo/grappling portion of our martial arts classes at age three.

Do some internet research to locate wrestling events, youth coaches, or wrestling classes your child can take. Or try our ONLINE KARATE classes to introduce wrestling to your child as part of our mixed martial arts training.

If your child loves wrestling, this love could eventually build to a lifelong hobby or maybe even a professional career.

Mathew Booe

Mathew Booe is a father of four, husband to Jackie since 1994, retired international competitor with over 50 wins, an international seminar instructor, a master instructor of hundreds of Little Ninjas each week, and the one bringing you the great content like you just read. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about his upcoming books before they are released to the public.

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