Everything you wanted to know, and some things you probably don’t, about packing for wrestling tournaments.

Let’s get the first two critical things out of the way:

  1. You must have your wrestling card before registering! For Indiana tournaments, that will be the USA Wrestling membership card (all events sanctioned through the ISWA). For Michigan tournaments, that will be the NUWAY membership card (all events sanctioned through MYWAY). You simply cannot wrestle at these events without a membership number and corresponding card.
  2. Get registered for the tournament first! Most, if not all, our tournaments are pre-register only and many of them have a firm cutoff for the maximum number of wrestlers allowed to register to ensure the tournament proceeds in a timely fashion. For this, you must learn to love, love to hate, and get familiar with TrackWrestling.com where a vast majority of tournaments handle online registration and following both brackets and match numbers for wrestlers during a tournament (more on that later).

Packing Gear

There are certain essentials which you just cannot do without for a wrestling tournament. That is all the necessary gear to participate. Most tournaments will have a vendor on site who has a large inventory of products to get you out of a bind, but nobody likes having to shell out for an extra pair of wrestling shoes or making a thousand adjustments to a new set of headgear 2 minutes before a match.

Wrestling Essential Gear

Wrestling shoes and headgear are absolute necessities. Mouth guards are required for younger wrestlers or wrestlers at any age who have braces. Singlets are the prototypical uniform of choice for wrestling, but compression shirts and shorts are becoming more popular, and the rules for youth wrestling allow for some flexibility with shorts and shirts. For wrestlers with longer hair, coverings and treatments are required and should be approved products which work without interference to headgear. Regardless, pack the right gear to save yourself money, time, and frustration!

Packing Additional Clothes

Never wear wrestling shoes outside! You may want your wrestler to bring along sneakers, snow shoes, or slides – it all depends on the weather – but you’ll definitely need something in addition to wrestling shoes. Shorts, sweatpants, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, or maybe even a hoodie can all be appropriate attire. These tournaments can last several hours and you want your kiddo to be both comfortable AND ready to wrestle.

Water and Snacks

Your wrestler will be thirsty. Very thirsty. Between warming up, shadow wrestling between matches, and having anywhere from 2, 5, or even more matches in a given tournament, bring lots of water and/or a sports drink to keep your wrestler hydrated. Tournaments can also be a long slog that costs more than expected in concessions if you don’t plan ahead and pack snacks. Pack fruit, sandwiches, and some granola bars. (Side note: whoever decided to start selling snow cones at wrestling tounaments is the devil.)


Chances are your wrestler isn’t the only one from the team attending a tournament, and may not be your only kid there. You are going to want some creative ways to keep them entertained throughout the day. Music via an iPod, movies pre-loaded onto a tablet, coloring books, or card games can be great ways to pass the time. Tournaments frequently start late, there can be upwards of an hour between matches, and you never know when organizers are going to get around to presenting awards. Be prepared!

Bleacher Cushions

Bleacher Cushions and/or Blankets

This should be pretty self-explanatory, but if you are anything like me, it is extremely uncomfortable to sit in bleachers for any amount of time. Wrestling tournaments can run from a few hours up to eight (yes we’ve been to tournaments lasting even longer than that!). A little comfort goes a long way here.


There are a few ways to keep up with the progress of a tournament. Depending on the organizers, they may post printed brackets, rely on a website, or a combination of the two. TrackWrestling.com is currently the most common online registration and bracket management website, but we’ve been to a few tournaments starting to use FloWrestling’s FloArena platform. Good cell phone reception and/or WiFi is key in this working out for you, but you should get used to them as some tournaments rely exclusively on these online tools. When organizers utilize printed brackets, you can take a photo of them, copy them onto your own pre-printed bracket sheet, sketch a new one out, or some other means to replicate the bracket. The key in all of this is to keep track of the match numbers. When your wrestler is seeded, wins, or loses, their next match will be represented by a match number on the bracket and that is how you will know where they are in the order of upcoming matches.

Have your own secrets to packing or suggestions to prepare for wrestling tournaments? Share them in the comments below!