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Freestyle vs. folkstyle

April 28, 2008


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By Coach Shannyn 

The U.S. States Olympic Education Center freestyle resident athlete program trained and competed in the Olympic style of wrestling also known as women's freestyle wrestling. All of the high schools in the USA, that have sanctioned wrestling state tournaments, compete and train in the style of wrestling created in the United States of America also known as folkstyle wrestling. This article briefly details each style, the benefits inherit for USA wrestlers, and future growth.

Folkstyle

This style originated from the catch-as-catch-can style over 100 years ago in the USA and is the basic style used to teach the fundamentals for folkstyle, Greco-Roman, and freestyle wrestling. Most male wrestlers who aspire to gain collegiate scholarships to further their education in the classroom and in the wrestling room learn and master this style. Other males who simply want to participate in college or junior college wrestling also learn folkstyle and apply to colleges while paying their own way for their education and to compete. Male folkstyle wrestlers have many opportunities to wrestle for these college organizations: NCAA (3 different divisions), NJCAA, and NAIA. In fact, there are over 100 colleges for males (compared to 30 colleges for females) who are seeking degrees and collegiate folkstyle wrestling to apply at.

Freestyle

This style has been contested in the Olympic Games and World Championships for over 100 years and is one of the styles the world agreed to participate in for last mentioned international championships. Female wrestlers debuted in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and have been competing in freestyle wrestling World Championships since 1987. Aspiring Olympian USA male wrestlers typically transition from folkstyle to freestyle after they have completed their collegiate careers. Female wrestlers, in the USA, transition from folkstyle to freestyle about 4 years earlier as most college programs for females compete in the Olympic style of wrestling or freestyle. There are fewer opportunities for female wrestlers to compete in freestyle wrestling in college as of this writing

High school is the last time most female wrestlers will wrestle folkstyle if they are aspiring Olympians because most collegiate women's programs compete and train for freestyle competitions and due to the Olympic Games having 2 styles competed: Greco-roman and freestyle wrestling. Actually, men choose one or the other if they aspire to be Olympic Champions as well.

Other styles

There are several other styles of wrestling that have world championships and these styles are not competed in the Olympic Games. Some of the more popular styles around the world are grappling, sombo, and jiu-jitsu and these forms of wrestling have world championships only. (Judo is a style of wrestling and has annual world championships and is competed in the Olympic Games.)

Benefits

Wrestling, in general, offers a wide variety of fitness benefits and movements that participants must master in order to have success. Once these skill movements are mastered, the aforementioned collegiate opportunities are available when high school athletes reach college age. Young masters of wrestling are afforded the chance to be awarded scholarships, tuition waivers, and financial aid if they also meet the requirements of the educational institution of choice. These days, college is expensive and financial aid, partial or full scholarships to offset costs of tuition are needed.

Freestyle or Olympic style of wrestling also offers worldwide travel to compete in the various continental and world championships offered annually and semi-annually. The Olympic Games (and Youth Olympic Games) are held every 4 years and World Championships for freestyle wrestling are held every year for junior (ages 17-20) and senior (ages 17 & older) wrestlers. Pan American Games are also held every 4 years for senior wrestlers while Pan American Championships are held every year for cadet (ages 15-17), junior, and senior level wrestlers. Freestyle collegiate wrestlers also compete in the World University Games and World University Championships held every 2 years for college and university students.

There are many psychological benefits of wrestling and they include increased self esteem, self confidence, self motivation, and learning how to set and achieve goals to name a few. Mastering the basic skills of freestyle wrestling (in the USA) generally starts with mastering the basic skills of folkstyle wrestling and when both styles are mastered, wrestlers have a sense of accomplishment and a belief they can set and attain goals in wrestling which has direct carry over value for believing they can accomplish goals in life. Setting and accomplishing goals develops character and discipline which has direct carry over value for life skills.

Physical and physiological benefits that are gained include increased strength, flexibility, body awareness, lean body mass, and nutritional awareness that directly affects foodstuffs ingested into the body. When all of those benefits are added up and complimented, wrestlers tend to have quicker, faster, and more powerful sport specific skill movements while enhancing productive lifestyle fitness habits. In other words, the benefits of being in wrestling, and specifically freestyle wrestling for females, enhances not only sport specific skills but also skills used later on in life like everyday exercising and eating nutritionally sound diets daily.


Social benefits of wrestling start with developing communication and interpersonal skills, developing leadership and cooperation skills, creating lasting friendships, accepting responsibilities, and learning how to deal with winning and losing. These skills also have direct carry over value for most avenues of life that wrestlers will travel down. Again, once high school girl wrestlers enter college and wrestle the Olympic sport of freestyle, the next step is to continue this social development to enhance life skills which will definitely become applicable during college and after college in the real world.

Final words

At this moment, there are roughly 6000 high school girl wrestlers (compared to 250,000 high school boy wrestlers) who train and compete in folkstyle wrestling in the various high schools of the USA. Many of these athletes (and their parents) may be unaware that wrestling in college, for women, is in the Olympic style or freestyle. (High school coaches and administrators may be unaware of this too.) Also, there are only 3 states that have sanctioned high school state wrestling championships for girls with about 3 other states that are on the brink of having sanctioned state wrestling championships for high school girls. Those statistics speak for themselves and a purpose for this paper was to provide information regarding the wonderful opportunities for female freestyle wrestlers and to stimulate productive change with regard to growth and development for female freestyle wrestlers in the USA.

 

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