Picking the wrong high school wrestling weight class to compete in is like hitting a self-destruct button on your season.
Your weight class is a lot more than just picking a number—it can determine how well you compete (or crash) for the entire season.
Picking right and setting up a plan to get there probably means:
You’re going to start the season confident, less stressed and excited to get on the mat
Strength and performance will be at 100%
There won’t be any panic or stress about your alpha weigh-in because you’re ready for it
Maintaining your scratch weight will be easier because you’re not trying to rapidly lose weight
You won’t fall into the trap of ‘traditional’ cutting .. no skipping meals for days on end
Maybe you even skip those hours and hours of cardio that most panicked wrestlers do right before weigh-ins
Picking the wrong weight class and too low a number? Here's what happens instead:
You’re going to have a much more challenging time getting down to your goal weight for certs
Strength and performance are probably going to take a big hit because of your diet
The weeks and months leading up to your alpha weigh-in are going to be extremely stressful as you struggle to reach your goal
Maintaining your scratch weight is going to be difficult—if not impossible because your bodies set point weight is much higher than what you’re trying to keep it at
You’re more at risk to fall into the cycle of starving for days on end leading up to matches because of the fear of being scratched
Hours of cardio? Probably also done on a weekly basis out of fear
It seems obvious which category you want to be in, right?
So now comes the hard part.. how do you pick a high school wrestling weight class to compete in?
There are three primary areas every wrestler, parent and coach should consider before picking a weight class to compete in.
Based on your decision, your wrestler is either going to start their season stronger, faster and more aggressive than ever…
…or set themselves up for failure before weight certs even begin.
1. Not considering a weight class that's closer to your 'natural weight' as an option
Everyone wants to be the big guy on the block, right? So, it makes sense to want to be at the absolute high end of your weight class to get an edge in on your opponents.
Honestly, it's a solid strategy. The problem is the execution.
Many wrestlers (and some coaches) have it in their mind that the bigger the jump they make in losing weight and getting down to a lower class, the greater their edge will be. Wrestlers that naturally sit around 145 suddenly get the idea to drop 20 or 25 pounds because they assume the competition will be much easier the lower they go.
Sorry to break it to you though (I’m not really that sorry)…
Regardless of your weight class, wrestlers at every level are going to be competitive. When you make that big leap, all you've really done is put more strain on yourself by trying to lose a significant amount of weight that might not be realistic.
Instead, picking something closer to your natural weight allows you to save an incredible amount of mental stress and energy that would normally go into preparing more heavily for your weigh-ins.
Your wrestler’s mental toughness is at stake
If you've previously tried to cut large amounts of weight in a short time, think about every single point during any given day where you've spent most of your mental energy thinking about it.
(More on the link between traditional cutting and mental toughness can be found on this article from MatBoss)
It probably happens at these points:
Every meal you're (not) eating
In class, maybe during that really interesting math lesson that you should probably be paying attention to
When you're trying to fall sleep
(key word here is trying, most wrestlers don't sleep well the nights leading up to a match if they're worried about their weight).
To paint you a better picture, I ask every wrestler when I first start working with them how much time they've previously spent on a weekly basis worrying about their weight when they're in season.
No one usually knows off the bat. We go through a typical week and count it out together.
The answer? 12-15 hours.
It might sound like a lot but think about all the different times I just mentioned as trigger points for wrestlers who are doing some serious cutting (probably the wrong way).
Now think about this: What could you be doing with those extra hours if you were instead shooting for something closer to your natural weight and NOT dipping too low?
What does an extra 12 to 15 hours do for improving your mental game?
How about more focus and intensity working on your techniques or take downs?
Maybe even just resting more so you can go into your matches recharged and ready to go?
There is certainly something to be said about going into a match with every edge possible, the problem is most wrestlers try to go too extreme when chasing it and if you're dipping too low, you're probably doing more harm than good.
Have you seen a wrestler trying to compete at too low of a weight? Comment below and let me know what your experience was.
Come back next week for part two of “3 Fatal Mistakes Most Wrestlers Make When Picking a High School Wrestling Weight Class”
P.S. If you're the parent or coach of a high school wrestler and want to learn more strategies on how to gain a competitive edge and effortlessly make weigh-ins WITHOUT having to skip meals, dehydrate or sacrifice performance, [click here] to register for a free training I'm hosting a few times this week.