March WIN Article #99 Cheering for Your Son


Cheering for Your Son & Favorite Wrestlers
By Ben Peterson #99

The wrestling season is over for another year. Wrestlers by the thousands are evaluating themselves and wondering what they can do to make next season better. Many have already put themselves on a training schedule to reach higher goals than they reached this past season.
How about us parents, fans and support groups of the hardworking young men of our favorite wrestling teams? Are there ways we can improve or do we just forget it all until next year? I can’t wait and do nothing. When I see all the work young wrestlers are doing, I want to sharpen my support, my advice, my encouragement, my cheering.
In this article I will address the area of cheering by asking four questions.
Do I encourage my wrestler(s) or do I just add more pressure? Remember, these boys are men in the making. They are learning to accept pressure. But don’t ask a grade school wrestler to accept pressure like you would a high school wrestler. College and senior level wrestlers must be able to handle even more pressure. If you are the parent and they have good coaches, then let the coaches put the pressure on them.
A key aspect of parenting is to personally know each of our children and build realistic expectations accordingly. Then we become their cheerleader and accept them whether they are the winner or not. If young men cannot find total acceptance, win or lose, at home, we will be disappointed to find the awful places they will seek it – like bad friends, drugs, alcohol and more.
Does my son/my wrestler hear my voice or am I hollering to the crowd? When we are trying to make a big noise we should add our voice to all the others cheering. The louder the better!
If we want them to personally hear us, we may want to position ourselves closer and direct our cheering with our hands. As a coach, I often do that to give instruction or a positive encouragement such as, “You can do it….,” and include their name. Often I want these comments to be personal and not heard by others. So I need to give them ahead of the match or directed specifically at them.
Just understand that a major amount of the individual hollering cannot be distinguished by a wrestler focused on beating his opponent. I used to do a lot more hollering than I do today because of this fact. Oh, I still holler a lot, but I choose my time and my words more thoughtfully.
Is any of my cheering more of an order than a cheer? I am not sure why, but I have noticed this a lot recently. I have watched coaches do this, have done so myself and I regret it. But I am especially noticing parents screaming orders when their son is struggling to get up from the bottom position.
Believe me, it can be very daunting to “Stand up!” or “Get up!” when your opponent is doing all he can to smear you into the mat. I have watched strong quick young men who know a good standup freeze in a belly flop arch position on the mat as their parent is screaming orders to “Get up!” Twenty orders can be given and none are able to be carried out. Placing ourselves in a conspicuous spot to scream the order will only add to the boy’s embarrassment. And if we bring an endearing childhood nickname into it, it will only increase their struggle.
Does my cheering support my wrestler or taunt his opponents? My wife, Jan, was a cheerleading sponsor for several years on a collegiate level. She catches these immediately. We don’t encourage our wrestler by taunting others. Cheering is positive by its very definition. If we spend our time booing and bashing the opponent instead of cheering for our wrestler we have the wrong focus. Opponent-bashing is never appreciated when I am with Jan. She has helped me a lot in this area.
This type of taunting recently happened at the Big Tens held at the University of Wisconsin. My fellow Badger fans began to taunt the Iowa fans and booed them. It was disappointing, and in the end I had to say we needed to learn from those rabid Hawkeye fans.
1. They follow every one of their wrestlers. They cheer intently for them. They don’t boo very often.
2. They know wrestling, Gable made sure of that years ago.
3. They love action and cheer aggressive wrestling from any competitor.
4. They think the Hawkeyes should win every match.
Now what is wrong with this kind of fan? Yes, they can be rude and intense, but they love the same sport the rest of us do.
Come to think of it, the best cheering I ever received came from my family quietly in letters when we were away from each other. My older brother Phil sent the following comments in a letter from Korea when I was a freshman in college. “Ben, you have very great natural ability, much desire and a lot of wrestling knowledge. I know that you can and will do the job there. Keep working hard just as you have… Keep up the good work. I am proud you are doing so well.” I will always treasure those letters and those words of confidence. They are more motivating than any “orders” I ever received from him or anyone else.
I encourage you wrestlers to talk to your parents and fans. Thank them for coming to events and cheering for you. Talk to them about what you like and don’t like about their support. Clear regular communication is always healthy. Seek out some of your key fans during the off season and thank them. Then during the season seek out a few key people like your parents between and after matches to say hi and say thank you. Don’t stay too long, but make sure your family knows you appreciate them. Tell them during this off season. Keep them in your circle of motivation.
And wrestlers, when you have a crowd or individuals direct their applause toward you; don’t forget to give them a smile, a nod or even a hand wave. Don’t pull this “too cool” look that is too proud to say thank you. And when you are nervous and not sure what to do in front of a crowd, a simple smile will bring you a long ways.
Parents, fans and wrestlers, talk it up this summer, and be all the more prepared for a successful and cheerful next wrestling season. Compliment and encourage each other and make the hard work easier.
You can find other articles by Ben at these web sites: & Today Ben & John run Camp of Champs Wrestling Camps. Contact them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094; 800-505-5099 or

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