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Why Do I Have To Wear A Headgear
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By: Thomas A. Long

USWA Bronze Certified Coach

Texoma Twisters Wrestling Club

Part II: Awareness Series

Written for His House Ministries June 2004

“WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR A HEADGEAR?”

This is the question every wrestler asks at one time or another in their career. “Do I have to wear a headgear?” We’ve all used and heard all the excuses. “ I can’t breath!.” or “ I can’t hear!“, How about, “, It makes me too hot.” “The button on the strap sticks, I can‘t get it off.” My two favorites, “I’ll never get cauliflower ears.“ and “It takes to long to put it on.” The headgear is not a brain surgeons device. You make it the proper size, put it on, strap it up, and Bam! It’s on.

The headgear, besides being considered an accessory to mix and match with your teams latest new and wild designs. (That might I add, has recently made some strides as well) Comes in different colors, styles, and designs to match your every singlet attire. There is a bigger reason for the headgear, let’s look at it from a safety standpoint. From a coaches standpoint.

How many times have we said, “WEAR IT!” and been asked, “Why?” and that was the end of it. If they wore it, they wore it, if not, oh well. We as coaches also have a duty to teach our wrestlers the reasons why? Answer them. Let them know what can happen if they don’t wear a headgear. You won’t be taking valuable time away from your wrestlers practice if you do, you will actually be adding another important ingredient into your practice, communication (another article, another time). They wouldn’t have asked if they didn’t want to know. To us, the reason why we wear a headgear is not important anymore, its become insignificant. We know the reasons. Some of us wear the reason why, in our ears everyday. We walk around with vegetables on the sides of our head. To a young wrestler at that moment, at that point in time the answer is important. The answer could save them problems down the road. That’s what AWARENESS is all about, making youth wrestlers aware that having cauliflower ears is not a badge to be worn. It‘s very painful and disfiguring.

A headgear serves as safety equipment for a wrestler. Football and Hockey players have helmets we wrestlers have headgear. Just a note, don’t ever get them confused. Don’t ever tell a wrestling coach, “I need a helmet.“ The headgear protects your head, temples, as well as your ears. The strap on the headgear keeps it snug, it also reminds you to keep your mouth closed when your wrestling, so you don’t bite your tongue.

To make the point even clearer here is a scenario that very few wrestlers and even coaches think about or like to think about, but it has happened. Picture this. A few years down the road. You are in your sophomore year of college. You have worked so hard to get to where you’re at. You’ve spent countless hours on the mat. You broke the starting line-up as a Freshman and you held your own. Starting in your senior year of high school, you experienced flashes of darkness in one or both of your eyes. They happened so infrequent that you thought nothing about it. By the summer of your Freshman year a sharp stabbing pain now accompanies your flashes of darkness. Only now your dark flashes are periods of time. The periods are lasting longer and longer each time. You can’t see. The only way for you to get relief is to lay down and put a cold compress on your eye or eyes to relieve the pain.

You’ve been wrestling for several years and you’ve only worn your headgear in your matches. Over those years of wrestling, each year you’ve averaged twenty to thirty matches a year. To get ready for those matches you’ve practiced an average of three times a week from November to March. That’s six months.

Let’s break it down. Each month usually has four weeks in it. That’s 3 (practices) times 4 (weeks) times 6 (months) times 7(years), 3x4x6x7= 504 practices. That’s 504 times that you’ve gone without safety protection on your head. Talk about playing the odds. Remember also, that youth matches are from 3 to 5 minutes in comparison to your practices which last approximately 2 hours each session. That’s 1,008 hours of unprotected contact. That’s a lot of time to weather the storm of a sport like wrestling. Ask yourself, Would a football player take that chance? How about a hockey goalie? Right, Not on your life. That is to big of a chance of injuries for anyone to take.

So, You go to the doctor who can’t do anything for you. He sends you to a specialist. Someone at John Hopkins or Wills Eye Hospital. These doctors are the best and have seen it all. Your eyes are examined and the specialist finds something that’s impairing your vision. You talk about your great career and how good the season is going. After a week you go back for results. “Please come in, sit down.” After cordial greetings the doctor tells you that you can’t wrestle anymore and that you need to go on blood thinners to restore the vision to your eye. He‘s sorry. “WHOA! Wait a minute, what are you talking about?” He says, “I’m sorry, son, But you never wore your headgear. You’ve taken to many blows to the side of your head.” “You should have worn your headgear, there’s no excuse that you can give me that’s worth your sight.”

Your dreams of a National Championship are over. You thought that not wearing your headgear as a youth didn’t mean anything. But, Down the Road it could cost you your sight, hearing impairment, the perfectly shaped ears that you were born with. If you don’t think that you have perfectly shaped ears now, go ask your mom and dad. I believe it’s the coaches, parents, any adult at practices, duty to make sure all wrestlers are properly protected. We as wrestling coaches should make headgears mandatory in our practices. Remember, The things we do in our youth could come back to hurt us down the road. Take the time….Strap Up!

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