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Welcome to our newsletter!
We hope the articles that you read here are beneficial to parents, coaches, fans, and wrestlers. We will try to list the latest wrestling topics in order to promote and educate in the sport of wrestling.

The December 2002 issue of our newsletter is complete.  Each month the newsletter will include latest wrestling news, interesting facts, upcoming events, informative articles.

We are always looking for new ideas and topics for the monthly newsletter. If you have an idea or would be interested in writing an article, please let us know.
Also, we want you to share your thoughts with us, Please post your thoughts on the PA-USA Forum on the Homepage.


Family Works!

  Safety and Preparation for Warm Weather Sports: Part Iby Mark B. Levin, M.D. and Louis J. Tesoro, M.D.
The Pediatric Group, P.A., Princeton

Sports are fun. They teach teamwork and build character, endurance, coordination and cardiovascular conditioning. But in order to enjoy sports and maximize the potential benefits derived from sports, certain safeguards must be taken, including medical clearance, proper training and coaching, proper co-participant selection, understanding how to manage injuries, environmental adaptation and conditioning and sport-specific injury prevention. In the article that follows, all but sport-specific information will be discussed. This last issue will be addressed in the fifth in this series of articles.

Medical clearance: Right off the bat, if your child has any underlying medical condition, consult his or her doctor regarding the advisability of participation in a particular sport. With proper guidance, most children, even with medical conditions, can and should participate in sports.

Coaching and training: Regardless of the season, proper coaching is basic to learning proper technique. Teaching sports in suitable facilities, providing adequate protective gear and instilling a commitment to teamwork, fair play and sportsmanship engenders a positive self-image and a lifelong enjoyment of sports. Encouragement of preadolescents by parents or coaches to be ruthlessly competitive detracts from the pleasure sports can provide to the child and discourages further participation. It has been said that sports performance is 90% technique and 10% strength. Proper technique not only allows more injury-free participation, but enhances performance. Patient, supportive teaching of technique enhances all the aspects of sports participation.

Co-participant selection: Children undergo physical development at different rates and ages. In the event of a collision in contact sports, those who are pubertal can seriously injure those who are not because of their greater mass and speed. Even in non-contact sports, matching participants by developmental stage rather than age is important. It is unfair to mismatch children in swimming or tennis, even though it may not be dangerous. Ask your physician about your childs developmental stage and what type of sports and what level of participation would be appropriate.

Understanding how to manage injuries: Injuries are commonplace in sports. Of particular concern are head injuries. There is a common misunderstanding of what a concussion is and how to deal with the athlete who has had a concussion. Any alteration in mental status (confusion, disorientation, immediate or delayed amnesia and/or loss of consciousness, even for a few seconds) constitutes a concussion. In EVERY case of concussion, the participant should be IMMEDIATELY removed from the event. Always check with the team physician or your child's doctor regarding the advisability of returning to sports after a concussion. Since repeated head injuries can increase the severity of the long term outcome, err on the side of caution.

Any organized sports event should be monitored by someone with knowledge of first aid and the approach to the injured child. When a child is injured, whether the injury involves the neck, trunk or extremities, do not move the child. If the child spontaneously moves or gets up, you can be more comfortable that the injury is not serious. But if an injured child is not moving, improper management can worsen the injury. If the child is unable to move after a brief time, it is best to summon the First Aid and Rescue Squad. For a more detailed discussion on sports-specific injuries, watch for the next article in this series, SAFETY AND PREPARATION FOR WARM WEATHER SPORTS: Part II- Sport Specific Injury Prevention.

Environmental adaptation and conditioning: The need to avoid sunburn, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration is common to all warm weather sports.

Sunscreen remains as important to the athlete as it is to the sunworshipper. Please refer to our previous article on Sunscreens for information on protection from the effects of ultraviolet light. Have your child apply an appropriate sunscreen about one-half hour before going outside. Teach your child to seek a shady spot when resting to avoid overexposure.

Both high and low humidity on hot days have their respective risks. When humidity is high, the air quality is often poor. People with normal lungs may have difficulty breathing and become sluggish, tired and less coordinated. The likelihood of injury increases under these conditions. More important, perspiration becomes more difficult in a high humidity environment, so children are less able to dissipate the heat their bodies create during activity. Increases in blood flow to the skin rob the brain of needed oxygen, causing children to become flushed and dizzy. This is called heat stroke. It is imperative in this situation to move the child to a cool environment and sponge him or her with cool water. Keeping the feet elevated allows adequate blood flow to the head. The best way to avoid this trouble is to keep children in a cool area between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day. Give them plenty of cool fluids to drink and allow them plenty of time to rest. Recognize the early signs of heat stroke and act quickly. Clothing made of the newer wicking materials that pull perspiration away from the body can cause a clinical condition similar to that seen in low humidity conditions. Read on.

When humidity is low, children can lose a tremendous amount of fluid through their breath and skin without realizing it. Their perspiration evaporates quickly, making them feel cool despite their precarious fluid balance. When their body fluid is depleted, they can no longer perspire. Body heat builds. They become dizzy and uncoordinated and may pass out. Injuries may result. Like heat stroke, this heat exhaustion is treated by cooling a child with shade, air conditioning, cool sponging and copious fluid intake. Keeping the feet elevated helps in this situation, as well. The same guidelines apply for prevention: avoiding the hottest times, drinking fluids, resting, cooling down during rest periods.

Well conditioned children are less apt to suffer consequences from heat. Children whose bodies are less well conditioned exert more energy to accomplish the same athletic task as a better conditioned child and tire more easily. They are also more prone to musculoskeletal injuries. The best way to be "in shape" for any sport is to be active all year around. Staying in shape is easier than reconditioning at the start of a new sports season.

Conditioning is different for endurance sports, such as distance running and swimming, than it is for sprint sports, such as soccer and baseball. To be in proper physical condition, a child should begin regular exercise sessions at least 4-6 weeks before the onset of the season. But it is up the individual to do this on his or her own. School athletic conference rules often prohibit organized sessions this early.

Children are at their most flexible stage between 5 and 9 years old. Ironically, when children become more serious about competitive sports, between 12 to 14 years old, rapid growth and increasing muscle mass make them much less flexible! Unfortunately, adolescents usually do not take preparation seriously. Stretching repeatedly through the day is instrumental in avoiding injuries and cramps. By discussing this with many athletes over the years, we have heard that many coaches are good about having children stretch before sports, but may neglect stretching afterwards, which is just as important. Coaches of Soccer, gymnastics and dancing are notable exceptions. Virtually no children are aware that it is important to stretch in the mornings and in the evenings, too. Muscles tighten up during exercise and during sleep. Keeping muscles limber decreases the incidence of injuries, but especially strains, sprains and tears. It also increases athletic performance, since a stretched muscle has more contractility than a tight one.

All Rights Reserved 7/98 The Pediatric Group, P.A.

Food On The Go: Strategies For Parents Feeding Athletes Away From Home
By Suzanne Nelson Steen, D.Sc., R.D.

Chicken Salad

Fast Food Strategies
Family-Style and Ethnic Restaurants
Planning Food For The Road
Grocery and Convenience Stores
Final Tips


One of the biggest nutritional challenges parents of youth athletes face is seeing that they eat properly away from home. But whether you are traveling to an all-day soccer tournament across town, or a two-week tournament in a foreign country, your childs nutritional needs dont have to suffer. There are plenty of ways you can ensure that your child will eat the kind of high carbohydrate, moderate protein, and low fat diet which studies show are necessary for optimal performance. Here are some strategies to use in making healthy choices at fast food, family-style and ethnic restaurants, and grocery and convenience stores.

Fast Food Strategies

When you are away from home with your child at a tournament or all-day event, time is usually at a premium. But convenience and a shortage of time dont mean your child cant continue to eat right, even at fast food restaurants. While fast food franchises provide quick service, inexpensive food of consistent quality, and are easily accessible, keep in mind the following when you stop:

  • The bad news: Most fast foods are high in fat, sodium, and relatively low in carbohydrate, micronutrients, and fiber.

  • The good news: Fast food franchises increasingly offer low fat, nutritious choices such as salad bars, prepared salads, healthy soups, grilled or baked meat, fish or chicken/turkey, baked potatoes, and low fat frozen yogurt or ice cream.

  • Model good eating. You will help your child to make nutritious choices if you select healthy items yourself.

  • When in doubt, ask. Many fast food restaurants now post information on the nutritional content of their food. If it isnt posted, the manager may be able to provide you a brochure, or at least tell you where to write to get more information.

Family-Style and Ethnic Restaurants

In general, "family-style" restaurants offer a wider variety of nutritious food than fast-food restaurants. Meals with coaches, players and other teammates before or after an away game or competition are often highlights of a youth sports season.

Healthy high-carbohydrate, low fat meals are available at ethnic restaurants. You just have to know what to look for, what to avoid or watch out for, and what the good menu choices are.

Planning Food For The Road
  • Pick restaurants in advance. Determine beforehand where the team will eat to assure that a high-carbohydrate meal will be available.

  • Call ahead. Restaurant managers will generally be accommodating, if they know ahead of time.

  • Arrange for meals. When staying in a hotel that offers food service, contact the catering manager to arrange for high carbohydrate, low fat meals within the teams budget.

If you are having trouble finding a high carbohydrate, low fat item on the menu, remember that most restaurants are willing to accommodate special requests, such as:

  • Low-fat or non fat condiments

  • Smaller portions

  • Steamed vegetables

  • Dressing on the side

  • Changes in preparation (broiled versus fried, for instance).

If you cant arrange for meals ahead of time, you and your players can often get a pretty good idea about whether a menu item is high fat from the method of preparation:

  • High Fat Methods:

    • Fried

    • Crispy

    • Breaded

    • Scampi-style

    • Creamed

    • Buttery

    • Au gratin

    • With gravy

  • Low Fat Methods:

    • Steamed

    • Broiled

    • Boiled

    • Charbroiled

    • Poached

    • Marinara

    • Tomato sauce

    • Au juice/in its own juice

Grocery and Convenience Stores

At all day events or tournaments, stopping at a grocery or convenience store is usually a better bet than the concession stand, which typically offers foods that are high in fat, (e.g. nacho chips, cheese fries, and hot dogs) and are expensive. Many supermarkets have a soup and salad bar with a variety of healthy foods. With guidance from parents and coaches, young athletes can find high carbohydrate, low fat foods in every aisle of the store.

As a general rule, a snack that contains at least 4 grams of carbohydrate for every gram of fat is considered high in carbohydrates and low in fat. For more information on specific foods, read the label.

Final Tips
  • Provide guidelines. Giving athletes easy-to-use food guidelines will help them pick food from almost any menu or food aisle that will ensure that they continue eating on the road the kind of high carbohydrate, moderate protein, and low fat diet that supplies the calories and nutrients they need to perform at their best.

  • Follow through. It takes planning and practice to find nutritious foods at fast-food restaurants, family-style restaurants, and grocery stores, but it can be done!

  • Practice what you preach. Remember that your child learns eating habits from you. Be sure to select healthy food items for yourself.

  • Encourage and remind. Taking the time to educate your child athlete about making wise food choices, combined with periodic reminders and encouragement throughout the season, will go along way in helping assure adequate energy and carbohydrate intake for growth, training, and competition.

  • Let kids be kids. An occasional ice cream cone, candy bar or bag of chips wont hurt, as long as these less nutritious items are in addition to, not in place of, the high-performance foods.

Suzanne Nelson Steen is the head of Husky Sports Nutrition Services at the University of Washington and a nationally recognized sports nutritionist. She is co-author of Ultimate Sports Nutrition (2nd ed.)(Bull Publishing). For her full biography, click here.

Have a question? You can email Dr. Steen at

by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Being a Wrestler of Character

Although every wrestler wants to be a champion, I believe that there are two more honors that should also be highly cherished -- "The most improved Wrestler and Sportsmanship Awards."

The most improved wrestler on any team has demonstrated that he is willing to make many sacrifices to better himself. Oh, by the end of the season, he may not be nearly as good as the best wrestler on the squad, but his dedication for improvement is second to none. Even champions are wary of such persevering competitors. They realize that they must keep on their toes, or the most improved wrestler just might soon be taking their place on the victor's stand.

The athlete who receives a sportsmanship trophy can also be very pleased with himself. This individual has gained the respect of his coaches and peers by displaying mature behavior, both on and off the field of competition.

Personally, I think we have far too many outstanding (but childish) athletes in the professional ranks. They, too, could learn from the youthful competitor whose character emanates the essence of sincere dedication and sportsmanship ideals.

To my way of thinking, any parent should feel very proud if his or her son is named "The Most Improved Wrestler" or receives "The Sportsmanship Award!"


Since Valentine's Day falls in February, and since Wrestling Mom's are the most dedicated Mom's in the World. We wanted to show our appreciation by giving this month's newsletter a little "Mom flare." Happy Valentine's Day Mom!

These are for all the Wrestling Mom's
Happy Valentine's Day!


A Mothers Love
by isis

A Mothers love
Surpasses no other
Her love is unconditional
No rewards asked~

A Mothers love
Lives on
In the hearts of men, women and children
There is no end~

A Mothers love
Gives without taking
Listens without accusing
Accepts without recriminations~

A Mothers love
A Mothers wisdom
A Mothers knowledge
All of this she leaves in Gods hands~

Advice For Moms New to Wrestling

  • Don't laugh the first time you see your son in a singlet.
  • Don't make plans from November 1st through March 1st. You'll either be at a match, at a tournament, driving someone somewhere, washing smelly, sweat-soaked clothes, nagging your kid to eat, or selling something.
  • Yes, it does cost $100 for shoes that never leave the gym.
  • You will save on grocery bills during the wrestling season, but the day season ends have the fridge and pantry stocked. Your child (who counted fluid ounces for months) will eat non-stop for about 72 hours, until his cheekbones disappear again.
  • Don't bother the coaches during a match (they're a little high strung). When they come to you after the match, it's not to talk about your wrestler, they just need aspirin or Rolaids.
  • Be prepared... tournaments run from sunup to sundown. Don't expect to see the light of day. Bring a cushion to sit on, a book to read, and some snacks. (You might want to hide the snacks... a few wrestlers can devour a package of cookies in nanoseconds.)
  • Don't ask me why a fungus is called a worm, but stock up on Tinactin, and make sure your child realizes that jumping in the pool does not count as a shower.
  • Diaper pins have become obsolete. (If you are approaching menopause, expect very strange looks when you ask for them).
  • When you are out in public with your son, whose face is covered with bruises, don't bother trying to explain to strangers that you didn't put them there.
  • I'm not sure who is in charge of weigh-ins, but your child will always have to wrestle someone who is a foot taller and about 10-15 lbs. heavier (and growls). It's a fact.
  • If your son is in a headlock, his face is turning purple and he is mouthing the words "I can't breathe", don't run out on the mat... the referee will notice eventually.
  • Sit with other moms... it helps to join hands when a mom wants to run out on the mat for an injury... or to attack an official.
  • There are a lot of ways wrestlers get points, but even after 10 years I still don't understand how a wrestler gets called for stalling when he is losing.
  • As a mother, you will never understand how our gentle, sweet child could possibly love to wrestle... to be stretched and twisted in ways nature never intended... but he does. So be happy when he wins, supportive when he loses, and always have the camcorder batteries charged!
  • -Unknown

Special Thanks to for letting us post this article

Question Of The Week

WrestlingQ: It has come to my attention that there is a wrestling coach teaching "making weight" strategies to 5th grade students. I cannot understand why they cannot compete in their own weight class but he is encouraging them to lose weight in a matter of a couple days. These are healthy young boys who are not in the least bit overweight. I am worried about these boys, though my own children are girls and are not affected. I want to make a difference, but am not sure how. The coach has been approached concerning this matter yet, some of these 10-year-old boys are still not eating their lunch and sometimes crying because they are hungry. They will not go against the coach. Can you help me with information concerning this matter?

Read What Dr. Doreen Greenberg has to say:
Read What Dr. Keith Wilson Has to say:

Wrestling With The Devil
By Dr. Doreen Greenberg

Psychologically and socially, one of the major tasks of childhood is identity formation. A child's self-concept changes on the basis of his/her experiences. The development of self-worth includes a sense of academic, social and athletic competence. The physical self is part of every child's identity. If a child is made to feel that he/she must do something unhealthy and potentially self-destructive in order to be a competent athlete - what is the life lesson that he/she is learning?

Nearly everyone agrees that youth sports can be a valuable asset in helping to create a positive identity. Through sports participation, youngsters can learn to be good winners and good losers. They can develop self-pride and self-confidence. They can come to understand the importance of a healthy, strong body. It can be a wonderful place for character building. But what type of "character" are we talking about here?

This situation is what we refer to as a "toxic" one. It is dangerous, both physically and psychologically. Toxic coaches are those who emphasize winning over fun. They substitute insults for instruction. And they promote harmful training strategies to the young athletes who look up to them. This is abuse.

Coaches can have a very powerful influence over their young athletes. For some kids, the sports team becomes a second family. There are some young athletes who will do anything to please the coach, even if it means deceptive, aggressive or unhealthy behaviors. Often, this can lead young athletes to burnout, serious injuries, emotional damage, eating disorders and dishonesty.

You have every right to evaluate a coach's behavior and hold him/her up to the highest moral and ethical standards. You have every right to make certain that the youth sports' environment is promoting the value of health and fitness.

Every young athlete participating in sport has a "Bill Of Rights". Among those rights are:

  • The right to qualified leadership

  • The right to play as a child

  • The right to a safe & healthy environment

Post Your Thoughts to our message board.

Back To The Top

Doreen Greenberg, Ph.D. Sport psychology consultant specializing in issues facing young athletes. For Additional


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Being a True Champion

Amidst an everchanging society, there are some things that are unchanging. I, for one, like consistency in life. And nothing is more constant than the attributes needed to truly succeed in any lifetime endeavor--whether it be schoolwork, athletic competition, raising a family, or making a living. As wrestlers aspiring to become champions of the mats, you would be wise to consider the following message for developing into true champions, not just winners.


  • T raining--Give your "all" and finish what you start.
  • R esponsibility--Accept the consequences (good or bad) of your actions.
  • U ndauntedness--Let nothing stop you from reaching your "goals".
  • E xcuses--Allow no place in your life for making excuses.

  • C ompassion--Care for the feelings of others.
  • H umility--Accept success with graciousness.
  • A ttitude--Think "positive" thoughts, especially when times are tough.
  • M aturity--Don't permit negative "emotions" to control your life.
  • P ride--Accept failure with dignity.
  • I ntegrity--Be honest with others and yourself.
  • O bedience--Learn to follow if you plan to lead.
  • N uture--Feed your talents, knowing that you can never stop learning.
Of course, the above behaviors are very hard ones to follow, but I guess that is why there are very few "true champions" in this world.


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Parents' Love for their Wrestlers

Wrestlers! If you haven't realized it yet, don't ever forget the plight of your parents.
Young gentlemen, I'm afraid that during this time in your lives, you have no idea of what your parents go through because of their love for you. I know what I am talking about because I never thought about it, myself, until I stopped competing and had time to mature and think back to those days.

For example, I can now remember the time my father fell off the bleachers--due to his gyrating movements to help my brother when he was wrestling. Mom, on the other hand, often had to leave the gym when we wrestled because it was too hard on her nerves to watch us. And get this, my dad did not even come to witness my state championship match in 1963, not because he didn't love or support me with all his heart--but because he couldn't take the pressure any longer. (He instructed Mom to call him right after the match.)

If you still don't understand what I am talking about, I can assure you that your parents know what I am getting at--because many of them have experienced similar feelings. Like my parents, they, too, have often demonstrated the same mannerisms while you wrestled. There's no doubt about it; this is not only one of the toughest individual athletic events for the participant, but also for his parents. As a matter of fact, there are some people I know who have been involved in wrestling themselves, but would rather not have their own kids wrestle. You see, they don't want to be exposed to the kinds of stress to which I am referring. Well, true wrestling parents are quite special. They are willing to accept the sacrifices their sons have to make. These parents know how the mat sport teaches individual responsibility -- a trait that will follow their boys throughout the rest of their lives.

So, young men of the mats, listen to what I am saying. And take a moment to thank God for the wonderful parents with whom you have been blessed. Oh, and especially take the time to sincerely thank your mom and dad for their dedication to you and your athletic endeavors. They truly are your best friends in life.



Welcome to our January 2003 Matrix Newsletter.
In this issue we have some excellent articles that deal with issues that are arising in youth wrestling today. One shows you a different opinion on youth weightlifting, that disagrees with last month's articles.  We will try to have an article on this subject each month. We also have an article for Wrestling Parents. Want your wrestler to succeed, read the "Ladder of Success" article, Enjoy!


 Actions Speak Louder Than Words?
By Pamela Caywood

Our society is fast paced. We are all rushing from one place to the next. Honking our horn at slow driverspeople who may be singing songs in the car with their children or pointing out some interesting sights. We dont have time for that silliness today. But we try to convince ourselves that we will make time for "fun" tomorrow. Our children say, "Mommy watch me!" over and over again just to get our attention. It is time to take a few deep breaths and think about our actions and our words. Do they portray the attitude that we want to convey?


Have you ever really thought about the phrase Actions speak louder than words? Think about it now. I have and dont agree with it 100%. If you say one thing and act in an opposite way, will the words be ignored and just the actions remembered? I dont think so. It is important to have your words match your actions. It is also equally important to use words to show appreciation, love, approval and happiness and then follow those words with a hug, pat on the back or smile. There is the impact. The action reinforces the words.


The pen is mightier than the sword.

What about that phrasetrue? Yes sir! Words carry a lot of weight and will be remembered for years to come especially when they are written down. The words are permanent. Mean words can hurt for that moment and for a lifetime. I am sure that each of us remembers a time when a sibling, a teacher, a friend or even a grandparent made an unkind comment. Those words did lasting damage to you, the relationship or both. Lets not be a member of that club. When was the last time that you hid a "love" note in a lunch box or in your spouses coat pocket? If you want to see a bight smile, that will do it! The power of this written note will be savored for many dayseven years.


Do what I say, not what I do.

How effective is that? NOT!! We are role models in everything. It is really hard for a child to believe that its not OK to do something that you do. Take smoking. Most children who smoke at a young age know a parent or close friend who smokes. Isnt it strange that a parent who swears a lot usually has a child who swears a lot too? "I dont know who taught her those words?" Parents are powerful beings and it is important to value that power and pass on positive role modeling through actions and words.


I can live for two months on a good compliment Mark Twain

Children thrive when they feel appreciated and understood. Dont be afraid to shower your child with encouraging words all day long. A perfect way to turn a bad day around is to compliment your child. "I noticed that your hair looked very nice today." "Did you hang your coat up all by yourself?" It is amazing how those few words can change a childs outlookalmost immediately. Dont stop theregive your spouse words of appreciation too. While you are spreading words of joy, call your parents, a sibling, and a friend? One of my siblings ended a phone conversation with 3 wordsI love you! Boy, did that put a spring in my step. Mark Twain is right, it has been a month and I still feel the positive effect of those 3 little, but very powerful words.


They do not love that do not show their love Shakespeare

When was the last time you showed you spouse love? Hopefully, 5 minutes ago. Feeling loved is the best feeling in the world. Being that this is the month of LOVE, go all out and plan to start doing acts of "love" for the week proceeding Valentines day. This week of "love" will set a great tone for the month. You should ask each family member what you could do to make him feel "loved." Then as a group, pick an idea for each day. It could be to make brownies, take a family walk, have a 5 minute family hug (ok, 2 minute), give each other back massagesyou get the idea. Hopefully, your acts of love week will catch on and you can have love weeks every month!


Do you know the legend of Saint Valentine? The Roman Emperor, Claudius II, arrested Valentine for secretly marrying people whom Claudius II forbid to wed. On February 14, 270 ad, Valentine was killed. He sent his last letter on that day to the woman he loved and it was signed, "from your valentine". Legend has it that is how the notion of Valentine cards was started. So make sure that your Valentine cards have a special and lasting message. You never know who might read them!! Take time to make thoughtful, lasting "love" messages this year. Dont make it a last minute effortput some thought into each one. Your children will watch you and will want to do the same. It is amazing to watch a childs creative spirit when it catches on fire. So start the fire, fan the flames!


Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.-Benjamin Franklin

Boy, was he a smart man! Lets maximize our words of appreciation and our acts of kindness. I have heard that after you do something 26 times it becomes a habit. So, lets work on saying and doing it kindly this month and then by next month you will just do it naturally everyday. What a happy world it will be.


We are what we repeatedly do Aristotle



Pamela Caywood 
February, 1999

Pamela Caywood is the proud mother of a Grace and her new son Will.

From The Coach
By Bruce Gabrielson
Head Coach - SMWC
Spring, 1999
The Champions Ladder To Success
Ladder diagram

I am often asked by parents what I think drives a champion, what can prevent someone from becoming a champion, and/or what makes a champion what he or she is? Since everyone is different, this is a very difficult question to answer. However, over the years I've had the unique opportunity to observe a number of great wrestlers from when they were little to when they completed their competitive careers and went on to coaching or their professional life. While most of the best wrestlers were successful as kids, some didn't really start to develop until they reached high school age. Based on what I've noted among those who failed or succeeded starting when they entered the 9th grade, here are some of my thoughts and observations. I call this my "Champions Ladder to Success".

Assuming the basic wrestling skills are known entering high school, substance abuse and distractions (including peer influences) seem to be the biggest hindrances to success. The wrestler must make a choice as to how far he or she wants to go. If wrestling isn't your primary sport, then don't do more than wrestle during the season, stay away from substance abuse, and have fun. By the time you are a senior you should have some level of success. I constantly talk to parents of high school seniors who come to me at the beginning of the season and say "We really want to win this year", or "We really want to get a wrestling scholarship so what can we do"? All I can say to them is "it's a little late but we'll do the best we can."

If you're in high school and wrestling is to be your sport, then hold to an off-season workout and competitive schedule, even if you need to work. I've seen so many good high school wrestlers get a car, work every night and weekends to pay for it, party every weekend, and not make the grade when it comes to college wrestling. Also, drugs and alcohol might be big in some party circles, but it's the fastest way to end a successful career that there is.

If you get lucky and make the grade to wrestle in college, you face another whole set of new circumstances. In college the distractions such as parties and substance abuse are even more prevalent, plus you have the added pressure of trying to keep your grades up while staying ahead of the competition. College wrestlers represent the best of the best. They are all good, and each is motivated at some level to succeed. If you don't have the motivation to push yourself, or if you can't walk the narrow path of least distractions, you will likely flunk out long before you fail as a wrestler. Even if you can handle the college academic pressure, you have to go that "one more yard" if you plan to get to the top. The best will push themselves and not let anything get in their way.

I've watched some of today's best and know their motivation and work ethic. It's nearly the same wherever you go and has always been that way. However, maybe a couple of examples from my own college years will help in explaining self-motivation and what it takes.

I knew a serious wrestler in college who lived in the dorms. He kept a weight set in his room and would lift whenever he got tired during his studying. He entered every off-season tournament he could find, had a regular off-season practice schedule, and drove himself to, not only become a wrestling champion, but also a 4.0 student and eventually a medical doctor. He was motivated to win and focused to succeed, regardless of his immediate or long term goal.

Another friend of mine was a two time NCAA Champion at my weight. He had a serious work ethic and was always practicing someplace. After he won a close championship match one-year I asked him what gave him that extra boost to win. His answer was something I will always remember. He said that the guy he had just beaten knew all the same moves and was just as strong. What won it for him was that his motivation and will to win was stronger than his opponents. I had a chance (and a personal pleasure) to speak with this same wrestler again many years later when he and I were officiating a freestyle match together during a national championship. Not only did he still feel the same but both he and I could see the same motivation in the winner of our match. A true champion is so strongly motivated that "they simply don't lose, they just get beat sometimes."

I remember my own off-season workouts during my college years. I would be in the wrestling room every day around 3:30 p.m. looking for someone to work out with. A couple of times each week I had a regular partner for the workout, but not every day. Although I was 130 lbs., sometimes I had to pull in football players who were taking wrestling as a class just to get a workout. I even had an old librarian who I taught how to wrestle just to have someone to work with. Weight training two to three times a week was also a must. Once I could get around, I was able to go to area club practices, and when summer came I had a local club around home to work out with. My practice off-season lasted right through summer until school started. What I'm saying is that self-motivation to do better is the primary driver for success. Without forcing yourself to do the extra work it will be difficult to reach the final goal of a champion. No one else can push you that hard, not your coaches and not your friends or team members, only yourself. This motivation must start during high school and must be strong enough to keep you focused right on through your college years. The path is narrow but the goal is there for the taking.


Kids And Weight Lifting Don't Always Mix, Says Texas A&M Prof

     COLLEGE STATION - To bench press or not to bench press, that is the question.
      In a few weeks, thousands of junior high and high school athletes will begin reporting for football drills, and the vast majority of them will engage in a comprehensive weight lifting program. But will pumping iron really help them on the field?
      For some yes; for others, it will be of limited value and a waste of time and could actually be detrimental, believes a Texas A&M University health and kinesiology professor who specializes in child fitness.
      William Barnes says age is the key factor. Generally, kids in the 16-to 18-year-old range will find that a serious weight training program can produce tangible benefits.
      But for younger kids, it may be less effective or could even produce damaging results, Barnes believes. Instead, a vigorous exercise program might be better, he says.
      The bottom line: For youths in or near the puberty years, their bodies are just not ready for squats, lifts and clean and jerks.
      "There are two problems to consider," Barnes says.
      "First, is the stress of weight lifting too much on a kid's skeletal system? These are kids who are still growing and developing and maturing, and very often, lifting weights can be of little value or maybe even be harmful.
      "Secondly, can children respond to an activity that is best suited for adults? Young boys, for example, face testosterone limits that can prevent adding muscle mass. Their hormonal activity is not mature yet.
      "The simple answer is that in physical terms, there is a significant difference between a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old."
      Weight lifting can often be gender unfriendly. Barnes says girls usually don't experience muscle enlargement the same as males.
      "Girls can sometimes become leaner lifting weights, but as far as adding muscle like boys, it is much more difficult for them to achieve," Barnes says.
      Barnes says that for boys and girls ages 13-14, the rates of growth and development are different. Some mature much later and some experience delayed growth spurts, and for those reasons, weight training could be of marginal value.
      But for senior citizens, the opposite is true. The Texas A&M professor says studies have shown elderly people usually benefit from some type of weight lifting program if it's done on a moderate basis.
     "For older people, we've come 180 degrees in our thinking," he adds. "It used to be discouraged for senior citizens, but now we know that a moderate weight training program can be beneficial for them. The key word here is moderate. We've learned the benefits far outweigh the risks. They respond to weight lifting just as well as much younger people."
      If Barnes had a 14-year-old son, would he encourage him to participate in a high intensity weight lifting program?
      "I could not recommend it," he responds.
      "Sometimes, junior high coaches try to emulate the Dallas Cowboys and they want their young players to lift weights two hours a day. At that age, a youngster is still in adolescence. He or she is not an adult, and that's the big difference.
     "There are better ways to work out and develop strength. I'd save the weight training for a later date. For kids, I prefer the traditional calisthenics and overall workout program. Weight lifting is not risk-free and the child is still not a mature adult. There are just too many question marks at that age."

Contact: Keith Randall at (409) 845-4644 or William Barnes at (409) 845-4002.

Office of University Relations
Texas A&M University
(979) 845-4641


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Tips for the Wrestling Parent

Wrestling parents must make a total commitment!
In my opinion, no other athletic contest asks as much from its parents as wrestling. Why do I feel this way? Well, in the mat sport, it is imperative that mom and dad learn the unique roles played by their son (the wrestler), the coach , and the official. Below are some helpful hints for dealing with these three individuals.

The Wrestler
Of utmost importance is making sure that your son eats the proper foods throughout the season. Moreover, do not place undue pressure on your boy during competition. Individual sports (especially wrestling) have a way of doing that themselves; you needn't add to it. Finally, and here is the tough one, teach your son to accept the consequences of his actions, allowing him no false crutches to stand on.

The Coach
Parental trust is the cornerstone in reference to the coach. Keep in mind that the coach is responsible for doing what he thinks best for the team and your son. If you are upset with a decision made by the coach, ask him about it. You'll probably find out that he has legitimate reasons for his action. But most importantly, support your coach; he deserves all the help you can give him.

The Official
As wrestling parents, try to keep in prospective the fact that the referee is faced with over 100 judgment calls per dual meet, and certainly many times that amount during tournament competition. Thus, you can not expect the official to be right on the money with every single call. So, acquire a satisfaction in knowing that he cares deeply about the safety of your boy, attempts to be as consistent as possible, and truly concerns himself with doing a fair and unbiased job.

To be totally honest, wrestling parents have quite a burden to bear. However, by following the above suggestions, the wrestling experience can be just as rewarding to them as it is for their son.



Welcome to our December 2002 Matrix Newsletter.
In this issue we have some excellent articles that deal with issues that are arising in youth wrestling today. Two are on youth weightlifting, We will try to have an article on this subject each month. We also have an article on Wrestling Parents, and an article on helping you and your wrestler get their homework done. Enjoy!


Tired of Spinning your head around trying to get your wrestler to do their homework, Here is a few tips that may help us all.

Ten Homework Tips Research shows that when parents become involved in their children's schoolwork, the children do better in school. One way you can get involved is by helping your child with homework. It will benefit both your child's school work and self-esteem.

One important aspect of helping your child with homework is to find out if the homework is appropriate. If your child is reading or doing mathematics below grade level, the homework should reflect this fact.

Here are ten tips to help with homework:

  1. Keep in touch with the teacher or teachers to be fully aware of the quantity and the quality of the homework turned in.

  2. Set a schedule, including both a beginning and an ending time. Most kids need some time to unwind after school before they tackle their homework. Doing it too close to bedtime may make it difficult due to fatigue. Fridays are usually the best day for homework that must be completed over the weekend. Assignments are still fresh in mind and last minute panic rushes are avoided.

  3. Encourage your child to divide the homework assignment into "What I can do myself" and "What I need help with." You should help only with that part of the homework your child cannot do independently, such as using flashcards, practicing spelling tests, and clarifying assignments. This builds responsibility and independence in your child.

  4. Use "Grandma's Rule." Remember that Grandma is reputed to have said that there is no dessert until you are finished with your spinach. Hold off on watching TV and other fun activities until homework is completed.

  5. Provide a home study center for your child with adequate light and few distractions. If your child concentrates better with "white noise" (music), provide that help. Also, a dictionary, paper, pens, etc., should be readily available.

  6. Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more for accomplishment. "You've spelled 18 out of 20 words correctly--that's the best you've done this semester!"

  7. Be available when your child is doing homework, so that you can answer a question if there is confusion. If possible, it is better for you to be in another room, so you are easily accessible and yet not a distraction.

  8. Look over the homework when it is completed. Do not correct it unless you have checked with the teacher. Seeing the pattern of errors is often helpful to a teacher.

  9. Study groups are often a good strategy. Your child may benefit from studying with one or two classmates. However, make sure they are using the time to study.

  10. Allow bathroom, drink, and/or snack breaks, but insist on completion of tasks.

A Reprint from the Parent Journal, Autumn 1994



Dr. Bill Welker is well known to West Virginia Wrestling fans. Dr. Welker is a former Pennsylvania State Champion. A nationally recognized wrestling sportswriter and official, Bill Welker was selected as the "2002 National Wrestling Official of the Year" by Wrestling USA Magazine. Dr. Welker is presently the Wrestling Rules Interpreter and Clinician for the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission.


by Dr. Bill Welker


Parents in wrestling are courageous -- it's true,
They feel all the pain that their child must go through,
At home, when he diets, they wish it could stop,
Yet know he must do it to stay at the top.

Excuses for losing they will not endure,
"Don't blame the ref, son, because of the score,
The coach, he will show you the best way to move,
Keep working in practice if you want to improve."

At dual meets, you'll see them breathing a prayer,
As their boy must compete with no one else there,
Whatever the outcome - mom cheers with deep pride,
While dad -- you will notice - stands right by his side.

They'll drive to a tournament many miles away,
To witness a child who's prepared for this day,
Their boy, he has trained, with all of his might,
Having dreams of becoming a champion tonight.

But should he fall short, at his corner you'll find,
A mother and father -- supportive and kind,
They teach that through wrestling he'll learn about life,
Yes, living is filled with both triumph and strife.

Now if you are searching for people who care,
Just look by a mat, they'll always be there,
Such love for a sport is truly inherent,
That's why we salute The Wrestling Parent.


   Weight Lifting, Weight Training and Supplements

By Mark B. Levin, M.D. and Louis J. Tesoro, M.D.
The Pediatric Group, P.A., Princeton

This is the thirtysecond article in a series written for Princeton Online.

Weight Lifting, Weight Training and Supplements

By Mark B. Levin, M.D. and Louis J. Tesoro, M.D.


The student athletes competitive environment often fosters the desire to increase muscle mass and strength in the hope of improving athletic performance. We are often queried regarding the advisability of weight lifting (lifting maximal weight to build strength and mass) and whether supplements, such as andro, DHEA, amino acids or minerals will help. For the reasons outlined in the pages that follow, rather than recommending weight lifting, we counsel families that supervised weight training, also termed strength training (performing multiple repetitions with small amounts of free-weights or low resistance on a universal gym), is more appropriate for a growing youngster. Until growth is finished (usually 18 years old in males and 16 years old in females), weight lifting should be avoided as the risk of musculo-skeletal injury (sprains, strains, torn muscles and fractures) is too great.


The Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness of the American Academy of Pediatrics in June, 2001, having reviewed the scientific literature and citing 21 scholarly scientific references, made the following points  regarding theoretical benefits of strength training:


1.      strength training can increase strength  in adolescents and preadolescents

2.      gains are lost after 6 weeks if resistance training is discontinued

3.      preadolescents and females will not achieve an increase in muscle mass (they are not producing necessary amounts of androgens and testosterone)

4.      scientific studies have failed to confirm that improved strength enhances running speed, jumping ability or overall sports performance.

5.      Evidence fails to show that strength training reduces the frequency of injuries.


Children and adolescents anticipating participation in strength training must follow these guidelines:


1.      obtain a pre-participation physical examination to rule out medical conditions for which strength training could cause complications.

2.      A strength training program must include warm up and cool down components.

3.      Start with low or minimal weights or resistance forces. When 8-15 repetitions are easily performed, small increments in weight or resistance are acceptable (1-5 pounds at a time)

4.      Exercises should include all muscle groups and be performed through the full range of motion at each joint.

5.      Workouts must be at least 20-30 minutes long and be done 2-4 times per week to be effective; less than twice per week confers no benefit and more than 4 workouts per week does not increase strength while also depriving muscles of recovery time.

6.      If a childs goal is improved sports performance, practicing and perfecting skills is more beneficial than strength training; if the goal is long term health, aerobic training (running, swimming, biking, etc.), must be added to the regimen.

7.      Any sign of illness or injury from strength training must be evaluated before the program is continued.


Student athletes must also be helped to understand that, as in any aspect of life, short-term gain must be balanced against long-term consequences. In light of this, be forewarned that that there have been few scientific studies published regarding andro (androstenedione), DHEA (dihydroepiandrosterone), creatine, or high doses of amino acids, chromium, calcium or iron. NO studies have been performed in subjects under 18 years of age as they relate to sports issues. However, according to an authoritative article written by Wendi Johnson, M.D. and published in Contemporary Pediatrics, July, 2001, we do know some of the risks from case reports and physiologic studies.


ANDRO and DHEA: These are naturally occurring hormones produced by the adrenal glands and are precursors of testosterone. They have not been well studied in athletes. They have been found to increase testosterone and estradiol (an estrogen) after low dose supplementation. They have the potential to cause increased hair growth in females, breast development in males, premature development of puberty and premature cessation of growth. They are likely to cause a positive urine drug test. One study in adults found Andro coupled with resistance training increased strength and muscle mass no better than placebo. The same authors (King, et al, JAMA, 6/2/99) found that Andro significantly reduced high density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol that is protective at high levels.


CREATINE: This compound is made in our liver, pancreas and kidneys and is deposited in muscle, heart, brain, testes and the retina. It is found in foods, particularly in meat and fish. It participates in the metabolic production of cellular energy. There is a maximum amount of creatine that muscles can accommodate. So, extra creatine is not retained in the body. Exercise and carbohydrate ingestion appear to enhance creatine uptake from foods. Caffeine reduces its uptake. It causes an increase in muscle fluid retention, giving the false impression of increase in dry muscle mass. Although creatine supplementation enhances repetitive efforts (intensity and duration of weight training workouts), it does not improve endurance or one-time all-out efforts. Side effects include headache, water retention, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Users have a higher incidence of muscle strain and are more likely to suffer dehydration or heat illness due to fluid shifts in the body. One case of kidney failure has been reported.


AMINO ACIDS: Increasing protein substrate intake over the maximum 1.8 mg/kg/day required by resistance trained athletes offers no increased benefit in muscle mass or strength. Increased calorie intake will allow the body to make enough protein to satisfy the needs of athletes without other supplements. Studies comparing carbohydrate ingestion with amino acid and mineral supplementation show no difference in increased lean muscle mass. Exercise and calories, not excess amino acids, are the keys to muscle building. Too much protein risks acidifying the blood excessively. A specific amino acid, glutamine, has been implicated in the decreased immune function of overtrained athletes. Supplementation with leucine has not translated into improved performance or increased muscle mass. Although HMB (beta-hydroxy-methylbutyrate) , a metabolite of leucine, can increase lean mass when taken in large doses and coupled with resistance training in adults, there are no studies in youths. Supplementary Carnitine, found naturally in meat and dairy products, has not been found to have any effect on performance in trained marathon runners.


CHROMIUM: This mineral is released from body stores in response to a rise in blood insulin. It is found in brewers yeast, nuts, asparagus, prunes and mushrooms. Supplementation does not decrease body fat, nor increase lean body mass or strength. One case of acute renal failure has been reported after high dose supplementation.


CALCIUM: Contrary to other minerals, calcium supplementation is important, particularly for female athletes, who are at increased risk of decreased bone calcium due to the hormonal response to irregular menses. Caffeine, cigarettes smoking and alcohol consumption, and large amounts of meat or soda (because of their high phosphorous content) promote calcium losses. Adolescent girls need 1200 to 1500 mg per day. The appended list displays the calcium content of various foods.


IRON: Like calcium, assuring iron sufficiency is important. Athletes have increased iron losses through perspiration, stool and urine. Females also require extra iron intake to replace menstrual losses. See the appended list of foods high in iron. Adolescent girls need 15 to 18 mg per day. Males require 12 mg per day through adolescence and 10 mg per day in adulthood.


The market for enhancers and supplements in enormous. The government does NOT regulate these products with the exception that a manufacturer my claim anything for a substance, even without scientific study, except that it treats, cures, mitigates, diagnoses or prevents a disease.  There are no standards for purity, quality or quantity of active compounds and manufacturers need not publish benefits or precautions. Only after a supplement has been proven to be unsafe can it be removed from the market.


We recommend that athletes get their nutrients from healthy foods, that they increase their protein intake to 1.4 to 1.8 g/kg/day (the RDA is 0.8 g/kg/day) during strength training, that they increase their calorie intake to 25-30 cal/kg/day (from the usual 20 cal/kg/day), that they get adequate amounts of calcium and iron from foods (see  appended list) and that they carbohydrate load (eat rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.) for three days before an important athletic event. Adequate amounts of chromium are found in brewers yeast, nuts, asparagus, prunes and mushrooms.


Coupled with practice and perfecting skills, and a sound strength training program, our children can enjoy the emotional and health benefits of athletics without the attendant risks imposed by ingesting unproven and potentially dangerous substances.




©All rights reserved, The Pediatric Group, P.A. 2001


Iron (mg)

Calcium (mg)

Almonds, 2 oz



Apricots, 5 dried halves



Baked beans, 1/2 cup



Baked potato with skin, medium



Beef, 4 oz



Bread, 1 slice enriched



Brewer's yeast, 1 oz



Broccoli, 2 cups



Brown Rice, 1 cup cooked



Cheddar cheese, 1 oz



Cheerios®, 1 cup



Chicken breast, 4 oz



Collards, 1 cup cooked



Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup



Cream of wheat, 1 cup



Dark meat Turkey, 4 oz



Dates, 10 dried



Egg, 1 large



Fortified Orange juice, 8 oz



Ham, 3 oz



Lima beans, 1/2 cup



Milk, 1 cup skim



Molasses, 1 tbsp blackstrap



Mozzarella cheese, 1 oz part skim



Muenster cheese, 1 oz



Pasta, 1 cup cooked, enriched



Peanut butter, 4 tbsp



Peas, 2 cups



Pork chop, 3 oz



Pork, 4 oz



Prune juice, 8 oz



Quaker® instant oatmeal, 1 serving



Raisin Bran® cereal, 3/4 cup



Raisins, 1/3 cup



Refried beans, 1 cup



Ricotta cheese, 1 oz



Salmon, 3 oz



Sardines, 8 medium



Shrimp, 12 large



Spinach, 2 cups cooked



Tofu, 4 oz



Total® cereal, 1 cup



Tuna, 4.5 oz



Turnip greens, 1/2 cup cooked



Wheat germ, 1/4 cup



Yogurt, 8 oz plain




Dr. Mark B. Levin 

Dr. Levin has been a member of the staff at The Pediatric Group since 1977. Currently an attending Pediatrician at the Medical Center at Princeton, he has been Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Medical Center at Princeton, 1984 to 1986, 1989 to 1992, and past President, Medical and Dental Staff, Medical Center at Princeton, 1987 to 1988. Dr. Levin has served on numerous Departmental and hospital committees. He has published original articles both while at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse and at The Pediatric Group. He has a wife and three children. Dr. Levin enjoys alpine skiing, jogging, hiking and camping, travel, computers and racquetball.

Dr. Louis J. Tesoro

Dr. Tesoro has been a member of the staff at The Pediatric Group since 1988. Dr. Tesoro is Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Medical Center at Princeton, 1996 to present and Attending Pediatrician, Medical Center at Princeton, 1988 to present. He has served on several Departmental and hospital committees, lectured at the Universiy of Pennsylvania and has published original articles both while at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and at The Pediatric Group.

Pediatric Group 

©All rights reserved, The Pediatric Group, P.A. 2001


Strength Training and the Young Athlete

By Avery D. Faigenbaum, Ed.D., CSCS

The development of muscular strength in children has received increasing public and medical attention in recent years. Despite the previously held belief that strength training was unsafe and ineffective for children, major health organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) , the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association(NSCA) now support children's participation in appropriately designed and competently supervised strength training programs. In addition to increasing the muscular strength of young weight trainers, regular participation in a strength training program may improve a child's muscular> endurance, body composition and sports performance. Further, participation in a preseason conditioning program that includes strength training may reduce the incidence of overuse injuries in youth sports.

It is important to remember that strength training is an activity which is distinct from the competitive sports of weight lifting and powerlifting. The term strength training refers to a method of conditioning which is designed to increase an individual's ability to exert or resist force. Weight lifting and powerlifting, on the other hand, are sports in which individual's often train at high intensities and attempt to lift maximal amounts of weight in competition. The goal of youth strength training is not to see which child is the strongest, but rather to improve the musculoskeletal strength of all children while exposing them to a variety of safe and effective training methods that are fun.

The most common concern associated with youth strength training is the belief that this type of exercise will cause damage the growth plates of children. Although a few case study reports have indeed noted growth plate fractures in children who lifted weights, most of these injuries occurred as a result of improper training, excessive loading or lack of qualified adult supervision. Typically children were injured while they attempted to lift maximal amount of weight overhead in an unsupervised environment. Growth plate injuries have not occurred in any prospective youth strength training study that followed established training guidelines. In fact, recent findings suggest that strength training during childhood and adolescence may actually make bones stronger. At this time there is no scientific evidence to suggest that youth strength training is riskier than any other sport or activity in which children routinely participate.

When designing strength training programs for children it is important to remember that children are not miniature adults. Children are anatomically, physiologically, and psychologically immature, and this uniqueness must be considered when developing youth strength training programs. Adult strength training guidelines and training philosophies should not be imposed on children. Although all participants should understand the risks and benefits of strength training, a young child should not be expected to comprehend the intricacies of muscle action. Focus on lifetime fitness and teach kids how to exercise properly. Above all, provide a stimulating program that develops in children amore positive attitude towards strength training and a healthy lifestyle. Generally speaking, if 7 and 8 year old children are ready for participation in organized sports or activities (e.g. little league baseball or gymnastics), then they are ready for some type of strength training.

In terms of equipment and supplies, body weight exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups can work for beginners, but more advanced trainees would probably enjoy the challenge of weight machines or free weights(i.e. barbells and dumbbells). Although pads and boards can be used to modify most types of adult strength training equipment, child-size training equipment is available and has proven to be safe and effective for children. The focus of each training session should be on proper form and technique, and if free-weights are used spotting procedures should be followed. Above all else, all youth strength training programs must be supervised at all times by experienced adults. A summary of youth strength training guidelines from the NSCA are presented below. A complete copy of the NSCA Youth Strength Training Position Statement Paper and Literature Review can be purchased from the NSCA by calling 719-632-6722.

Youth Strength Training Guidelines:

  • An instructor to child ratio of at least 1 to 10 is recommended to provide adequate supervision and instruction. When children are learning exercises for the first time, closer supervision may be required.
  • Children learn best by doing. When teaching a new exercise to a child, have the child perform the exercise under your watchful eye.
  • Ensure that the training environment is free of hazards. Be aware of the exploratory nature of children and remove or disassemble any broken equipment from the exercise room before classes start.
  • The exercise room should be well lit and adequately ventilated. Since children are more prone to heat illness than adults, encouraged them to drink water even if they are not thirsty.
  • Perform calisthenics and stretches before and after every strength training class
  • Begin with 1 set of 10 to 15 repetitions on 6 to 8 exercises that focus on the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body. Start with a relatively light weight and high reps and increase the load and decrease the reps as strength improves. Beginning with relatively light loads will allow for appropriate adjustments to be made.
  • Maximal lifting is not recommended for general conditioning purposes.
  • Two to three training sessions per week on nonconsecutive days is sufficient.
  • Increase the weight gradually as strength improves. Generally a two to five pound increase in weight is consistent with a 5% to 10% increase in training intensity.
  • Progression can also be achieved by increasing the number of sets ( up to 3) or number of exercises.
  • Multijoint exercises such as squats may be introduced into the program based on individual needs and competencies
  • Treat children with respect and speak with them in a language they understand. Remember that children should feel comfortable with the program and should look forward to the next workout.
  • Strength training should be one part of a total fitness program. Keep the fun in fitness and promote lifetime health.

Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology in the Department of Human Performance and Fitness at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. His email address is

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