Letting your kids practice a combat sport like wrestling can sometimes be a tough decision.
On the one hand, it's great for them, it teaches discipline, sportsmanship and self defense, not to mention that it's a great way for kids to develop confidence and self worth.
However, on the other hand, there’s nothing more important for a parent than keeping their kids safe, and seeing your kid get caught in a double leg takedown and thrown on his back can be jarring, to say the least.
There’s no better way to keep your boy safe, not only from injury but also from nasty infection, than getting him the best gear out there.
Which Headgear Did I Buy for My Kids?
In wrestling, this means quality youth headgear. Any takedown involves getting thrown on the floor, and after your back slams down, it's your head’s turn. Protection makes a huge difference.
With that in mind, I compiled a list of the best youth headgear out there designed to keep our young wrestlers safe safe while they practice and compete.
Why Every Kid Wrestlers Must Buy The Best Headgear Possible
If you’ve taken your kid to wrestling practice a couple times, you have probably encountered the “Tough it out” kind of dad. Those that believe that protective gear is for wussies and that concussions aren’t a thing, you know the type.
Well, in case it needs to be said, THEY’RE WRONG! Protective gear is extremely important, especially for kids since they are still developing. In fact, I would go as far as to say it should be mandatory.
But just in case you’re not convinced, let's go through a few reasons why your kids needs to wear quality stuff before he steps on out on the wrestling mat.
If you’re a martial arts fan you may think cauliflower ear looks cool, or is a sign of toughness and wrestling success. But I’d bet if you think that way, you probably don’t have it yourself.
Speaking from experience, there's nothing good about it.
For the non-martial arts fans out there, let me explain. Cauliflower ear is what occurs when someone takes repeated blows to the ears and can be caused from rolling around on the dirty mat. It causes the tiny blood vessels inside to rupture and the blood pool calcifies.
The result is basically having stones inside your ear, which give it the appearance of a cauliflower, hence the name.
What most people don’t mention is that these aren't just unsightly, they can also be incredibly painful, lead to infection and require surgery.
How do you avoid them? Simple, HEADGEAR.
Wrestling headgear is designed with this specific issue in mind and can spare your child a lot of pain both now and in the future and both physically and emotionally as well as save you a lot of bucks in med bills!
They Can Keep You In The Fight
Anyone who’s been hit in the ear can tell you, even a glancing blow can be incredibly painful and disorienting. Your inner ear is what controls your balance, so a simple blow can leave you wide open to your enemy’s advances while you’re spaced out and in pain.
Unfortunately, even in youth wrestling where blows are not allowed, not-so-accidental strikes are more common than you’d think and unscrupulous opponents will often use them to get an advantage.
If you want to let your kid be the best wrestler they can, while sparing them pain and keeping them safe from opponents with questionable morals, and quality set of youth headgear is the way to go.
Best Youth Wrestling Headgear
Listed below are the top rated, most popular, and highly reviewed kids protective headgear
Best Overall Choice
- Editor’s Choice
- Best Youth Ear Protection
- Keeps Ears Protected from Cauliflower Ear
- 43% Lighter
- Fits heads sized 18 to 21 inches at the eyebrow
- Easily adjustable velcro straps
- Comes in five different colors.
Cliff Keen - Youth Tornado Headgear Review
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Cliff Keen is one of the best, if not the best brand in the headgear game and it shows on this one since its the headgear of choice for many of the top young wrestlers on the planet.
The main reason for this is that its 43% lighter than traditional headgear. This may not seem like much, but in competition even the slightest edge can spell the difference between victory or defeat.
Think about moving your head while wearing a helmet. Feels weird right? That’s because there’s added weight that your body is not used to, impairing your speed and reaction time. By wearing lighter headgear, you minimize this effect.
Another great thing about this entry is that it can fit pretty much any kid, thanks to its easily adjustable velcro straps you won't have to worry about it being too small and causing pain, or even worse, too big and slipping off.
On the more shallow side of things, these come in five different colors, which won’t change your performance on the mat, but let’s admit that every kid wants to look good when we walk in front of a crowd and with the Youth Tornado, you’re one step closer.
- Excellent Ear Protection from Dirty Mats and Accidental Blows
- Antimicrobial padding to prevent smells and fungi
- “Indestructible” polycarbonate inner shell
- Flexible Vinyl outer shell
Cliff Keen - Youth Signature Headgear Review
If you were looking to buy premium gear, but wanted to go with a cheaper option, this is the choice for you. Cliff Keen delivers a quality product that is 25% cheaper than our previous entry, while still offering the protection your son needs, and deserves.
In fact, it's hard to go wrong with this one, since its an adaptation of Cliff Keen’s best selling headgear of all time, which explains the name “Signature”.
What makes it so great? Well for starters it's lined with antimicrobial foam on the insides, which may seem useless at first, but consider that the foam will be exposed to sweat for hours, and not just any sweat! Teenage boy sweat!
The antimicrobial foam will kill the bacteria that produce bad smell as a by-product of consuming what’s released in sweat, as well as deter any nasty mold or fungi growth.
Even better, the outsides are lined with vinyl, which is flexible enough to mold to any teens head, but tough enough to take hits. While the insides have a polycarbonate shell which I’ve seen described as “indestructible”
While it doesn’t come in fancy colors like our previous entry, it comes in timeless black with white stripes. It goes with everything and will never go out of style, which is important considering just how long these will last.
- Adjustable Chin Strap
- Anti Friction Materials
- Injection Molded Plastic Cup
- Soft Foam Coating.
Adidas - Response Junior Ear Guard Review
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad product come from Adidas, and this piece of youth headgear is no exception. Like always, they deliver quality stuff no matter what they do.
While it's a good product all around, I’d start by highlighting the adjustable chin strap. It's a great way to offer some extra security, ensuring the pads will stay in place no matter what and helps keep your mouth shut to avoid biting your tongue or cheeks accidentally while wrestling.
That’s not all though, these come with injection molded plastic ear cups that will keep young wrestler’s ears safe while fighting, covered with soft foam to avoid any pain from the tough plastic.
You might have also noticed the shiny finish the cups have, that’s because they’re specially designed to reduce friction against the mat once the fight goes to the ground and your son is trying to get a submission. This way, he can move as he pleases without worrying about his gear catching on any surface.
- Ultra-soft neoprene makes it durable, breathable and antimicrobial
- Extremely comfortable fit
- Made in the USA.
Matman Ultra Soft Adjustable Wrestling Headgear Review
Made right here in the good old US of A, we have a great option for those looking to protect their kids and support local business while they’re at it.
Its made of ultra-soft neoprene, but don’t let that throw you off, it's tough as nails and can take as much punishment as you can dish out.
What the ultra-soft neoprene does is provide an extremely comfortable fit, since there are no tough plastics, while keeping everything sanitized, clean and cool thanks to its antimicrobial and breathable properties.
This is great because things can heat up quickly when wrestling, and there are few things more distracting when you’re trying to get a submission than having sweat pouring down your face, so keeping things cool is extremely important.
Not only that, but the neoprene is extremely light as well. In case I have to remind you, this means it will feel a lot less awkward and won’t hinder your kid’s performance.
Cheapest Kids Wrestling Headgear
- Patented Gel technology to soften blows
- Don’t impair hearing
- Come in three colors
- Extremely affordable.
Cheapest Kids Headgear - Asics Youth Gel Ear Guards Review
Combat sports can get expensive sometimes, and for some of us budget can be a bit tighter than we’d like. That’s why I always scour the web to find budget friendly options. I believe fitness and martial arts should be for everyone, regardless of financial situation.
In this case, I stumbled upon the Asics Youth Gel Ear Guards, these use patented Gel technology to soften any blow that would otherwise injure your child's ear and head.
They even include breathing holes which also double as a way to improve hearing while wearing protection, since the layers upon layers of foaming can often cause things to sound muffled or distorted.
While not the prettiest gear out there, it comes in three colors and most importantly, it gets the job done for an extremely affordable price, and that’s what matters most.
Top Brands for Youth Headgear
Listed below are the top brands that provide only quality headgear. Only buy from these brands
Above I said Cliff Cliff Keen is one of the best brands for wrestling and boxing headgear, if not the best. It was started by the legendary coach Clifford Keen, so it makes sense that they know all the ins and outs of wrestling better than anyone.
In case you don’t know, Coach Keen is pretty much the father of US Wrestling, from 1925 to 1970 he coached more than 150 wrestling champions and went on to coach the US olympic team on the 1948 games, as well as being part of the US Olympic wrestling committee for many years.
I dont think there’s anyone out there better suited to build products that cater to the needs of wrestlers and helps them improve their craft. When you buy Cliff Keen you know there’s years of actual wrestling experience at the highest levels guiding their decisions.
A legendary brand all on its own, I could write pages worth of Adidas’ history and accomplishment along the many fields they currently release products for.
When it comes to wrestling, they are most well known for their premium quality shoes, that combine style with function to reach the peak of athleticism while looking so good you’d think they are made for runways.
Lucky for us, they started venturing into wrestling and BJJ headgear recently to great success. While they’re products can be on the pricier side sometimes, they more than make up for it in quality and top notch customer service.
Another shoe company that has gotten into the wrestling game. Started in 1949, they’ve received countless international recognition for innovation and more recently sustainability and climate change awareness and are now a gold partner for the upcoming Tokyo olympics.
Asics motto is “Create Quality Lifestyle through Intelligent Sport Technology”. To that end, they’ve released hundreds of patents like the one we saw on our last entry.
Always at the cutting edge of progress, they’re a solid choice for headgear any day.
Kids Wrestling Headgear Checklist
As your kid grows, you might find that their old youth headgear doesn’t fit like it used to. Once it starts getting uncomfortable to wear, it's time to buy a new one. That’s why it's important that you know what to look for when shopping for a new piece of equipment.
The shape of headgear will always be pretty consistent, two pads that cover the ears and a way for it to stay on the head. What matters most is what the equipment is made of, especially the ear shells.
In most cases it will come down to two choices, soft vs hard materials.
Soft headgear materials include neoprene and rubber and are usually preferable if your kid has never worn this kind of gear before. This is because this material is less likely to cause discomfort and pain, since it adapts more easily to the shape of the head.
Not only that, but they are also lighter and more breathable. It's hard enough to stay cool during a match, no need to make it any worse.
However, since it's softer, it may be less protective, unless some other kind of padding is involved and softer materials tend to reduce hearing, which can annoy some athletes.
Hard shells are usually made up of plastics or some sort of polymer. They offer a lot more protection, since they won't buckle under a blow, and usually have no effect on hearing ability.
However, these can cause discomfort if you’re not used to them, are usually not as breathable and are not allowed in some tournaments since they can be painful to opponents if your kid leads with his head.
If you want to go with a hard shell, you should look for something like our first entry, that makes the most out of the hard material while reducing discomfort with soft interior coating.
It’s very related to the previous topic and its extremely important. Ideally, gear shouldn’t even be noticed. If your kid’s gear is uncomfortable, he’ll focus more on the uncomfortable straps on his head than on his opponent, and by that point the match is already lost.
It’s a bit hard to tell what makes gear comfortable or uncomfortable, since each athlete will have a personal preference. Your best bet is to go with quality stuff and buy from amazon, since they usually have generous return policies.
You might be thinking that fit and comfort are pretty much the same thing. You’re almost right, they’re closely related, but not quite the same.
The difference is that comfort refers to just how nice it feels to wear the gear, fit is more related to how well the gear will stay on your son’s head.
What you want is a piece of headgear that fits quite snugly on your boy’s noggin. You can even have him put it on and give it a couple of tugs. It shouldn’t budge at all, if it does then it’s either too big or not properly adjusted.
If your kid’s headgear is too loose it can slide over their eyes, rub certain areas raw and even make them more susceptible to cauliflower ear since improperly placed hard plastic can make any blow worse than it would be otherwise.
On the flip side, if the fit is too tight, it can lead to cuts on the neck, nape, chin or throat, or in worse situations cut off proper blood and oxygen flow. There’s no need to tell you why that’s not optimal for high intensity combat sports.
A great way to get around this is going for ear guards that have adjustable straps, that way you can regulate them personally and won’t have to worry about buying a product that’s too big and liable to fall off when your son needs it the most.
It’s common to see parents who don’t know any better pay ridiculous prices for gear that isn’t even that good. It is an unfortunate reality of the sports industry that there are thousands of snake oil peddlers.
When it comes to getting your kid a quality set of protective headgear, I recommend buying from our selected headgear above, since you know you’re getting the real deal. But even if you don’t, use it as a price guide, if it's more expensive than our top selection, you might be overpaying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions most parents have when buying their kids wrestling headgear.
How Should Wrestling Headgear Fit?
To put it simply, it should be comfortable, but snug. You don’t want anything too tight since it can lead to cuts, pain and even poor circulation. Yet you also don’t want anything too loose either, since it can rub skin raw and offer little protection.
The best way to tell is to have your kid wear them for a while and see how he feels.
What Else Do I Need to Keep My Kid Protected?
There’s more to protective gear than just ear guards, in fact there are tons of stuff you can get, but there are three things you should not miss buying no matter what.
While they may look a bit awkward, a singlet is the wrestlers greatest tool. It will cover up any “risky” areas, while keeping close to the skin so that the opponent can't use loose clothes to get a better hold of your son.
A Mouth Guard
Have you ever seen someone break their teeth before? I have, it ain't pretty. Wearing a mouthguard is a must, since it will keep your kid’s teeth from rattling and potentially breaking, as well as protecting his lips from being cut open by his own teeth if he receives a blow to the mouth.
Wrestling is a contact sport, both wrestlers are struggling for supremacy, trying to get a hold on their opponent. In this circumstances, a blow to the “family jewels” is quite likely to happen, so unless your kid should wear a cup at all times to avoid any painful and embarrassing moments.
Is Wrestling Safe for Kids?
While any combat sport has an implicit risk, wrestling is one of the safest out there. Unlike boxing or MMA or other striking sports, there are no real hits, only submissions and holds, so if your boy is wearing the right gear there should be no problems.
Is Wrestling Good Exercise for Kids?
Of course it is! Not only it works cardio capabilities, since they have high intensity bouts, it also improves dexterity, coordination, reaction time and promotes muscle growth!
Depending on their age, their coach will have them do weight training and running alongside wrestling practice, so it's a great all around sport to cover all bases of your child’s physical development.
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