Wrestling and Weight

High expectations for high school athletes are becoming a health risk

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Wrestling and Weight

Kiersten Watkins, Staff Writer

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Joining the team of a competitive high school sports team can be both nerve-wracking and intense. A majority of high school sports have tryouts and other requirements just to participate. Both athletes and coaches must follow the many guidelines that are associated with wrestling. One main rule that has recently become a problem for wrestlers is the weight requirement.

Millard West wrestlers have to meet a certain weight limit so that they can be sorted into a certain weight class for the meet. Each player has a personal goal that they need to meet in order to participate in the wrestling meet the next day. These personal weights are decided during pre-season conditioning by using an assessment called the Alpha Test, consists of multiple health tests that make sure athletes are keeping themselves hydrated and healthy. The body mass calculated during the Alpha Test helps coaches determine the initial weight each participant will work towards for the beginning of the season.

Keeping track of weight is important especially for wrestling because the sport consists of each player going against someone of relatively close size and body mass. Compared to other sports, weight is much more important because it’s a one on one sport.

“The main reason they put these weight limits into place is just to keep the matches as even as possible,” junior Dylan Weeter said. “It’s more about strength and technique instead of one guy weighing more than his


The initial weight that the wrestlers are working towards can change based on what the coaches think. Changing parts of their lifestyle has become more common in recent years because each person wants to participate. Reaching the required weight is important to them, and not meeting their goal means that some wrestlers won’t be able to participate in the match for the next day. Not being able to compete with all their teammates can be difficult for some players.

Athletes are already stressed out with both school work and staying in shape. Asking them to cut down on daily food intake can cause them to change their lifestyle too much. Not getting daily nutrients can cause many problems in practice as well as in meets for the wrestlers. School work could also be affected by lack of food.

To maintain weight, wrestlers have to watch what they eat and they must continue to work out  year round. Many of them stick to a diet that helps them stay in shape during both the off-season and the wrestling season. In order for them to be smart on their own time, wrestlers make sure to work out and not eat carbs or excessive amounts of sugar and sodium while in-season. They avoid eating foods that contain a lot of water because the extra water weight makes it difficult for them to meet requirements.

Weighing in can be a stressful time for athletes because they want to participate in each meet, but it can be difficult for them to maintain their weight throughout the week. Wrestlers aren’t given strict guidelines because the coaches believe that they can make smart decisions on their own. Not giving official guidelines has caused some wrestlers to starve themselves in order to match the requirements.

“The weigh-ins are usually the day before the varsity meets and our coaches want us to be as close to the needed weight as possible,” Weeter said. “Sometimes they allow two or four pounds over, but they still have us work harder to meet the goal for the next meet.”

Forcing athletes to cut down on their food intake can start to cause health problems. Athletes are told to keep themselves healthy all throughout the year so that they can be ready for the sport season, but weight cutting has started to be important in wrestlers lives that it is becoming a problem. Severe weight cutting has been shown to affect growth in kids that start wrestling at a younger age. Many wrestlers have grown up to be shorter than the average athlete because they aren’t eating enough. Without the right amount of food, wrestlers’ health is being affected and it ultimately affects the work they are doing in and out of school. Some teenagers are getting dizzy during classes and they can’t focus enough to learn what they need to.

Weight cutting isn’t healthy and there should be set guidelines for wrestlers that want to continue with the sport. There should be better alternatives for athletes that doesn’t cause them to starve themselves for multiple days just to compete.

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