One of the most common
injuries for wrestlers is cauliflower ears. While they are a status
symbol in some cultures, most western wrestlers tend to avoid
any change of acquiring them as they are usually painful and in
the end turn out to be quite ugly. In fact, folkstyle wrestling
(highschool and collegiate wrestling in the US) requires that
all wrestlers wear protective headgear or ear guards during competition.
While it is not mandatory for either freestyle or greco-romam
wrestling, a good set of headgear will prevent them from developing.
If your son or daughter is worried about getting "Big Ears"
well fitted headgear will go a long way to keep them away.
Most headgear comes in one size and adjusts to fit, although you
can purchase youth sizes for your younger wrestler. Depending
on the design of the headgear you'll need to adjust 2-4 straps
(1-3 straps around the head and a chin strap) to ensure a good
fit. It is important that the headgear fit snug to the head. If
the headgear is too loose, it will move around and become a distraction
for the athlete.
main difference for most headgear is style or design. The main
styles include traditional and halo and come in either plastic,
soft material, or the more rugged hard design. The traditional
headgear tend to have more room around the ear and are best suited
for those with larger ears or for those with early signs of cauliflower
ears while the halo design is best for those with smaller ears
or for those yet to experience cauliflower ears.
The plastic models tend to be a little less comfortable,
especially if they don't fit well, while the more traditional
models made with aluminum can actually contribute to cauliflower
ears. In fact, if your son or daughter already has cauliflower
ears (or is showing early signs), I'd recommend going with either
the soft halo design or the soft traditional model (Cliff Keen
makes a great traditional model with Lycra neoprene and deeper
ear cups). While I was never a big fan of the softer headgear
(they tended to move around to much due to my small head), many
of today's design have made big strides during the past ten years
and are much more comfortable, and ergonomically correct than
they were in the early 90s. I also didn't care for the plastic
halo design as I found the strap would sometime rub into my chin.
The price for most headgear varies between $14 - $25. The halo and
soft designs tend to be at the lower end of the price scale while
the more traditional designs tend to hover around the high end (due
to the extra room and more solid construction).
Which ever style you choose, it's best to try
on a few pair before making the purchase. If available, ask those
on your team the best pair to buy.
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