Your child has recently voiced a desire to join the local wrestling club. While your knowledge of the sport only comes from whatever you manage to catch of the Summer Olympics once every four years, you’re pretty sure it’s far too rough for your kid. After all, your child is still a small, scrawny elementary school student without an ounce of visible muscle. Is he or she really ready to start wrestling?

The answer could very well be yes. While participation in wrestling at the elementary school level is nowhere near as high as soccer or baseball, there should be at least a few youth clubs within a reasonable driving distance of your home. At these clubs, greater emphasis is placed on learning about the sport and mastering basic techniques than on actual competition, so a lack of size and/or strength won’t be a problem.

But that doesn’t mean you should just sign your child up right now and rush out to buy all new youth wrestling gear today. Instead, take some time to evaluate his or her readiness by asking and answering the following questions:

How sincere is this newfound interest?

Kids are notorious for their short attention spans and their ever-changing tastes. If your child is the type that quickly passes from one hobby to another, give the wrestling decision a bit more time before sinking any money into the sport.

Does the desire still persist after some initial exposure to live action?

Wrestling is one of those sports that looks cool to spectators, but is a heck of a lot different for participants. That’s why it would be a good idea to give your child a taste of some live action by attending a day camp or an open house at a local wrestling club. After spending some time on the mat, your child will have a better grasp of just how much of a contact sport this is and can make a more informed decision about participating.

Is the whole family ready for the time commitment?

Youth wrestling is very much a family-oriented activity requiring full parental and sibling support. Between driving the wrestler to practice, laundering dirty gear, monitoring nutrition, and attending meets and tournaments, a significant time commitment is needed from all involved. Does your child’s current schedule permit for the added burden of this new sport? Does yours?

Getting into wrestling at an early age can help children gain confidence, boost self-esteem, and develop their athletic skills. But before joining a club or team, make sure your child is ready for the sport by giving the above questions careful consideration.