Wrestlers compete one-on-one to see who's stronger and quicker. So when the action starts, injuries can happen. To keep things as safe as possible, follow these tips. Safe Wrestling Gear To reduce the risk of injuries, be sure to have the right safety gear, including: Headgear. At the middle school, high school, and college levels, headgear is required for all wrestlers. Headgear is sometimes called "ear guards" because it has padded shells that go over the ears to help prevent ear and head injuries. Headgear should fit correctly and all the straps should be secure. Kneepads. Some wrestlers wear kneepads on one or both knees. A knee hitting the mat over and over again can cause swelling. Padded kneepads can help prevent that. Another type of kneepad, called a shooting sleeve, has less padding and is designed to help knees slide across the mat to help prevent mat burns. Shoes. Wrestling shoes are light and flexible, but they should still provide ankle support and traction on the mat. Be sure to get ones that fit correctly and keep them tied securely with the laces tucked in. Mouthguards. Mouthguards are a low-cost way to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue. In many school districts, mouthguards are required for wrestlers who have braces. Athletic support. Guys should wear an athletic supporter and girls should wear a good sports bra while wrestling. Safe Wrestling Training Before starting a training program, all wrestlers need a sports physical. The health care provider can make sure there are no health issues and talk about sports safety. Most schools won't let athletes participate unless they've had a sports physical within the past year. To prevent injuries during training, wrestlers should: Be in good shape before starting the wrestling season. Always warm up and stretch before practice and matches. Use proper technique. Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain, and get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back to training. Play different sports throughout the year to prevent overuse injuries. For wrestlers who are trying to gain or lose weight, working with a coach, athletic trainer, or nutritionist can help them do it safely. It is never safe for someone to starve themselves, exercise to the extreme, take weight-loss pills, or get dehydrated on purpose. Safe Play Other safety tips: Wrestling mats should be cleaned with a disinfectant cleaner after every match or practice. This will help prevent skin infections like impetigo or ringworm. Wrestlers should know the rules of the game and follow them. Teams should have a first-aid kit available at all practices and matches. Wrestlers should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after practices and matches. Back to Articles Related Articles Preventing Children's Sports Injuries Participation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here's how to protect your kids. Read More Compulsive Exercise Even though exercise has many positive benefits, too much can be harmful. Teens who exercise compulsively are at risk for both physical and psychological problems. Read More Compulsive Exercise Compulsive exercise can lead to serious health problems. Lots of people don't know when they've crossed the line from healthy activity to unhealthy addiction. Read about ways to tell. Read More Dealing With Sports Injuries You practiced hard and made sure you wore protective gear, but you still got hurt. Read this article to find out how to take care of sports injuries - and how to avoid getting them. Read More Choosing the Right Sport for You If you're having trouble choosing a sport, this article can help! Read More Knee Injuries Knee injuries are common among young athletes. Learn about causes, treatments, and prevention. Read More Knee Injuries Healthy knees are needed for many activities and sports and getting hurt can mean some time sitting on the sidelines. Read More Repetitive Stress Injuries in Sports Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) happen when movements are repeated over and over, damaging a bone, tendon, or joint. Read More Repetitive Stress Injuries in Sports Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) happen when movements are repeated over and over, damaging a bone, tendon, or joint. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.