• Take The Time To Know Your Wrestlers

    by Admin User | Sep 20, 2016

    The number one goal for any youth or scholastic coach should be to provide a positive athlete experience for all team members. To accomplish this goal, a coach must possess many skills outside of being strong with technical knowledge. I often say that the easiest part of coaching is being able to teach skills and technique, but great coaches know how to develop their athletes on an athletic and personal level.

     
    One of the most important aspects of being a great coach, and to provide a positive athlete experience, is the ability to connect with your athletes on a personal level.  
     
    Duke University men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is one of the greatest and most-successful coaches in any sport. He had a great quote that said, “A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.” One of Coach K’s greatest players ever at Duke, Christian Laettner spoke about why Coach K was so successful and said,  ”Coach K was 95 percent love and five percent tough love”. 
     
    This concept and notion applies to all levels of sport. The more we get to develop a personal connection, the greater the overall experience will be for all involved including coaches, parents and athletes. Coaches that make the effort to listen, understand and treat athletes with respect, in turn will have athletes do the same back.  The personal investment you make in each athlete goes a long way in developing a strong overall program.  
     
    The issue that we often see in sports is that many coaches only make a connection with the best athletes. Too many coaches do not take the time to get to know every athlete and only focus on a select group. Often the quiet and “weaker” athletes are not given the same level attention, which can lead to them not wanting to stay a part of the team. 
     
    It is important to remember at the youth level there are no stars just athletes at different levels of development.  I always like to say at the youth level you cannot make a future champion but you can sure destroy one with how you treat that individual.  
    As coaches, we are the number one influence over an individual’s athletic experience. To keep a high retention rate after the first year, it is important that we show our athletes that we care about them more as a person than an athlete. The concept is to make them feel they are a part of something bigger than just a sport. It is human nature for all of us to want to feel important and cared about.
     
    When you develop the personal relationship with your athletes it will go a long way in retaining those athletes in future years. Further, parents talk to other parents about their experience with sports.  These individuals will tell others of the positive experience that they had with you and fact that you care about their child as much as a athlete as you do a person.  This is a critical component in recruiting new athletes to your program.
     
    It is also important to know how to connect with your athletes. Understand that things you say or do might seem innocent or harmless, but to the athlete and parent, it can be often looked at differently.  My oldest son, who is very quiet and shy, had a coach try to make a joke about these traits at a team banquet in front of his entire team and parents. He was trying to say something nice about him but in reality, his comments were very embarrassing to my son and caused more harm than good.  At no point during the season did this coach ever try to build a relationship with my son or get him to open up.  Did the coach intentionally mean any harm? No, but did he? Yes. 
     
    The coaches who develop strong connections with their athletes are most often the ones that get the most out of their athletes regardless of skill level. You will see that your best athletes will also perform at a higher level with this approach.  Athletes who have developed strong bonds with their coaches are more inclined to run through the proverbial wall for their coach.
     
    One of the most vivid memories I had from a past NCAA Championship revolved around Cael Sanderson. Penn State just wrapped up a third consecutive NCAA Championship and yet Coach Sanderson was in a back hall filled with emotion because of the loss of several of his athletes in the finals. This emotion came from the fact that he had a true love for his athletes and knew how much his athletes were hurting to not reach their goals this season.  You do not see that type of emotion unless a coach a strong connection to his athletes. It was a scene that has really stuck with me and made me wish my boys will have coaches in whatever sport they do, that will have that kind of investment in them as people. 
     
    As you work to develop a strong connection with your athletes, listed below are some strategies that can be used to build a strong relationship with your athletes:  
     

    • Learn something personal about the athlete before the start of the season. An easy way to do this is to send out a survey to the parents and ask them some questions about the athlete that you can use to connect with the athlete at practice. I often ask about what their favorite subject is, what their favorite sports team is, and etc.   
     
    • Make a point to talk to each team member about something other than the sport they are involved with. Ask them about school or other sports they play.   Show that you have an interest in what they have to say.
     
    • Have your pulse on the emotions of your team members. Great coaches can tell when a athlete might be struggling in athletics, at home and/or in the classroom. Show you care by giving them the words of encouragement and support.
     
    • Don’t be standoffish with your athletes. The worst feeling for a young athlete is to come into practice and the coach shows little to no emotion and can appear cold. Make sure you welcome all athletes with a smile in a relaxed nature. Make sure the athletes feel that you are excited to see them.
     
    • Make the athlete feel special. Some coaches can do this through humor and joking and others can do it through words of encouragement.  
     
    • Use of positive touches. A positive touch can be a high five, a pat on the back or shoulder.  If using positive touches, make sure you read the athlete to make sure that they are comfortable with. A positive touch is usually a quick physical interaction with an athlete that shows connection. 
     
    • Always be positive. Any time you say anything about an athlete or want to comment on an athlete, make sure you do it in a positive manner. Remember what you might think is funny, might be embarrassing or hurtful to the athlete.  

     
    The sports market has become much more competitive in trying to recruit and retain athletes. The more we can do to help ourselves the better off we are going to be. One of the best ways to do this will be developing a strong connection with EVERY athlete.

  • The Importance of the NWCA Convention

    by Admin User | Sep 07, 2016
    My thoughts on the NWCA Convention
    Peter Jacobson
    Head Coach
    Edgemont Wrestling
    winsmarter.com

    I recently returned from the National Wrestling Coaches Association Annual Convention and, as always, I was blown away by the caliber of coaching development I was exposed to.
     
    Hands down, every wrestling coach in the country should do whatever they can to attend this event every year. Quite simply, attending the NWCA Convention for the past several years has been the single best investment I have made, both in time and in money, in my 15-year coaching career.
     
    Coaching education and professional development are the most important things we, as coaches, can do to keep improving. The crazy thing is the more experience I have as a coach, the more important this type of development becomes.
     
    There are two big reasons why the NWCA Convention, even as a 15-, 20- or 30-year coach, is so critical:
     
    To begin with, when you’re first starting out in your coaching career there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of sources of information available to help you improve: books, websites, DVDs, clinics, camps, other coaches. The list goes on and on. Here’s the thing though: while I truly believe I can continue to learn and grow by utilizing these resources, and know that I can almost always take at least one thing away from every exposure to one of these mediums, the more experienced you become as a coach the more nuanced the advice you need to continue growing.
     
    Here’s an example: When I was a newer coach, I could watch a video of another coach breaking down a high crotch and learn tons from it. As I've gotten more and more experienced, it's become the smaller detail or teaching point that now really helps me out. These small nuggets of wisdom are fewer and further between and certainly harder to come by through “passive” coaching development: things like reading a book or watching a video, where there’s no ability to ask a question or foster a dialogue or an active exchange of ideas.
     
    Now imagine an environment where you can watch one of the top coaches in the country teach that same high crotch, stop them to ask questions and then have ongoing discussions with dozens of other highly motivated wrestling coaches about how they teach the same technique and what works and doesn’t work for them.
     
    The difference is night and day!
     
    Secondly, it’s much easier to become complacent and stagnant as a coach the more experience you have. Our sport continues to grow and evolve and so we must too. It’s very easy to let the sport pass you by or to “wake up” one day and realize you’re that coach who’s been around forever and is still coaching his kids the same way he was 20 years ago.
     
    These concepts hold true for any coach in any sport, but doubly so in a sport like wrestling. We all know how profound a difference this sport has made in our lives and can make in the lives of our athletes. The problem is that the rest of the world doesn’t.
     
    Our sport has so much to offer and has made such progress but we still have so many challenges. We owe it to the kids we coach and the sport that has given us so much to make sure we continually strive to become the best coaches we can and further the sport.
     
    They say that every day you are either getting better or getting worse - that you never stay the same. There’s no such thing as holding your ground.
     
    So my question to you is: what did you do this week, this month, this year to keep getting better?
     
    One of my “answers” is attending the NWCA Convention every year.
     
    The educational sessions are always top notch. The beauty of the convention is that they don’t focus solely on technique but on other, often neglected, aspects of our coaching that are also of critical importance. Things like: sports psychology and motivation, nutrition and weight management, strength training, recruiting and retention, hiring and interviewing, job search skills, dealing with your administration, recruiting, engaging your alumni and community, fundraising, marketing your program, rule changes, etc.
     
    Year in and year out, the NWCA brings in an amazing line-up of presenters and the NWCA staff and volunteers go all out to create an awesome learning environment for all wrestling coaches regardless of the level at which they coach.
     
    These sessions are just the tip of the iceberg though. Probably the biggest benefit of attending the conference is the interactions you’re able to have with other coaches from around the country. To be able to meet other coaches, share ideas and ask questions and start conversations is the single greatest benefit I have received.
     
    I now have a brain trust of coaches that I can reach out to anytime with any question - from coaches at top-tier Division 1 programs to high school coaches with over 30 years of experience. What better resource can you imagine?
     
    I understand it's sometimes challenging and expensive to make the trip to the convention on a weekend in July, but it’s my personal belief that all wrestling coaches should do whatever they can to make it happen.
     
    When I made the case to my AD and principal, my school happily agreed to pay the conference fees. I just have to pay for flight and hotel. But here’s the kicker: the convention is at a resort right on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. My wife comes along every year and it’s a great vacation for everyone with plenty of downtime and tons of restaurants, activities and shopping nearby. Fort Lauderdale is easy to get to and flights and hotel are not super expensive.
     
    I’ll leave you with this thought: we’re always quick to complain about the challenges our sport faces - programs being cut, difficulty recruiting and retaining kids, rule changes - you name it!
     
    This is one of those rare opportunity for each of us as coaches to do something about these problems!
     
    As NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer likes to say we owe it to the sport to find three days each year outside of the competitive season when we can all get together as a coaching community and talk about how we can overcome the challenges we face. Here’s your chance to be heard and be part of the solution!
     
    Don’t we at all owe at least that much to this sport?
     
    I can’t wait till next year’s convention and hope all see a lot of you there as well!
  • Coaching Your Own Child

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 22, 2016
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    Coaching Your Own Child

    by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

         There are many questions that arise when it is time for a parent to become the coach of their own child’s wrestling team.  Can I be fair? Will I demand too much or too little of my child?  Will my child perceive that my love for him or her is tied to their wrestling accomplishments?  All of these are realistic worries for the parent-coach.
     
        Dr. Larry Lauer, Mental Skills Specialist for USTA Player Development indicates that coaching your child can be a productive bonding experience if things go well.  He also suggests that a coach should do what is best for the team and not attempt to mold their child into the next world class athlete.  Also, he indicates that the coach avoid treating the child differently-either by showing too much favoritism or by being overly harsh so as to not show favoritism (1).
     
        I believe the main key to coaching one’s own child is simply to separate the parent persona from the coach persona.  Dr. Shari Kuchenbecker agrees and recommends using a ‘Two Hat’ trick in which the parent wears a coach hat for the sport (practice and competition) and a parent hat for times outside the sport arena.  “The trick can be as simple as stating that you’re taking off your ‘Coach’ hat and are now speaking with your ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ hat on after the game” (2).  The essential ingredient for the parent-coach will be leaving their coaching-self on the mat.
     
        A FINAL NOTE OF CAUTION:  I often hear parents indicate that their child wants to do this or that with regard to wrestling practice and/or competition.  For instance I hear parents say, “Jimmy wants to be in a tournament every weekend.”  I ponder if the child really wants to do itOR are they doing the activity to get parent approval or love.  Parent-coach or just a parent, my personal observation is that this is the area in which parents need to exhibit extreme caution and remember to love the child, not the wrestler.
     
        Check out the NWCA Youth Coaching Manualfor more information on becoming a coach.  Also go to the following website and register for the 2016 NWCA convention:http://www.nwcaonline.com/nwcawebsite/events/nwcaconvention.aspx

    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    References
    1. Huffington Post Canada. (2013, March 21).Parents coaching sports:  How to balance duties to the team and your kid. 
    2. Kuchenbecker, S. (2011).  Coaching your own child:  Attitude, objectivity and preparation are keys. Momstream:The Trusted Source for Sports Parents.  Retrieved from (June 7, 2016)

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu


  • Are Coaches “Technicians”or “People Developers”?

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 15, 2016
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    Are Coaches “Technicians”or “People Developers”?

    by: Larry Lauer, Ph D
     
       It is a common belief that coaches fix athletes; they make them better. This is true; coaches do improve the performances of their athletes. However, is that all that they do? Or, is there more to this idea of coaching?
     
        How the coach views his or her role in the lives of their athletes will determine the relationship they will have athletes and their influence. Coaches can frame their role in several ways:
     
    1. Technician – My job is to teach the techniques and tactics of the sport. The athlete learns them and becomes better. This perspective assumes that by building sport skills alone you will get the best performances. In this way the athlete is a vessel ready to be filled with knowledge, not a living, dynamic being whose personality, history, family, etc. will influence development.
     
    2. Manager – My job is to take this group of athletes and manage them in such a way to get the best performance out of them. This perspective assumes that the coach’s job is to move players like pieces on a chess board void of emotion. Relationships are less important than performance decisions.
     
    3. Developmental – My job is to develop these young people in to better athletes and people. This perspective assumes a holistic view of the person; the athlete and the person are one in the same and both influence the performance. By connecting with the person you get the most out of the athlete.
     
        What is a major difference of these perspectives? The developmental perspective respects the whole person and aims to build trust, while the other two at their core distance the leader from the relationship-building process to focus more on building a winning athlete or team. The technician and manager might be appropriate at an elite level with adults, but they still will not develop the trust needed to get the most out of their athletes. And, as a youth sport parent or athlete, certainly you want your coaches to have a developmental perspective.
     
        Rainer Martens, author of the book Successful Coaching (1), argues that coaching is more than management. It is about developing relationships with the athletes in a professional manner that allows the coach to inspire, motivate, push and support athletes to be their best and enjoy the experience. Trust can be developed within the coach-athlete relationship to a degree that the athlete will be open to the athletic and life lessons a coach can teach.
     
        In a series of interviews conducted by Greg Dale and Jeff Janssen that led to the book the Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches (2), it was revealed that highly successful professional and Division 1 University coaches first lead by building credibility with their athletes. This credibility is due in large part to the trusting relationship developed between coach and athlete.
     
        One of the most successful coaches in NCAA basketball history explains it this way: 
     
    Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, “I don’t look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball.”
     
        Ultimately, the quality of the youth sport coach can be measured by a famous quote from the legendary University of Chicago football coach Amos Alonso Stagg. A reporter once asked him after a particularly great season if this was in fact, his greatest season. Stagg responded, “I won’t know for another 20 years.”
     
        The message: Coaches are more than technicians and managers. Coaches develop the whole person by building a coach-athlete relationship that enables the coach to support and challenge the athlete to the athletic goals learning life skills at the same time.
     
        Common Belief: Coaches teach the skills of the game and put players in positions to be successful. Science says... Coaches are leaders while also being technical coaches and managers. When they make the choice to develop relationships they can develop better athletes and people, and become a better coach that inspires others.

        Science says... Coaches are leaders while also being technical coaches and managers. When they make the choice to develop relationships they can develop better athletes and people, and become a better coach that inspires others.


    References:
     

    1.     Martens, R.   (2012). Successful coaching. (4thedition).   Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

    2.     Janssen, J., & Dale, G. (2002). Seven secrets of successful coaching. Cary, NC: Winning the Mental Game Publisher.

    Larry Lauer, Ph D
    Director of Coaching Education & Development
    Institute for the Study of Youth Sports
    Michigan State University
    lauerl@msu.edu
    www.youthsports.msu.edu
    www.larry-lauer.com


  • How the Best Teams Keep Filling Their Roster Every Year

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    How the Best Teams Keep Filling Their Roster Every Year

          
    by: Pete Jacobson
     
         One thing that comes up with wrestling coaches time and time again is how frustrating it can be to get a sustainable flow of athletes on your roster every year.  We either have trouble getting enough kids or we have trouble getting the “right” kids… any way you slice it, one struggle we all have is figuring out a dependable, repeatable system for getting great, engaged kids coming up into our programs.
     
         When you’re focused on developing your program it can be so disheartening to feel held back just by the fact that you need more kids or the kids you have just aren’t committed. No one ever prepared me for this as a coach.
     
         So what do we do? We try this tactic or that tactic… some help a little, some seem like a waste of time… OR even worse yet we just get frustrated. We blame the community we coach in, the parents, the kids, society… Either way none of that gets results...
     
    Here’s the bottom line I’ve come to believe: it’s not about the tactics.
     
         What has actually gotten me results is when I stepped back and took the time to understand why kids join teams and why they stay.
     
          It helped massively - the last few years we’ve had more kids at all levels of our program than ever before.

    Click Here to Read the Rest of the Story


    Peter Jacobson
    Head Coach
    Edgemont Wrestling
     
    www.edgemontwrestling.org
    Twitter: @EmontWrestling
     
  • Preparing Your Leaders for Next Year!

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    Preparing Your Leaders for Next Year!    

    by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
     
    PREPARING FUTURE LEADERS: 
    The “off season” is an excellent time to begin preparing your leaders and coaches for next year.  A great first step in this process is to have all of the program leaders and coaches attend the 2016 NWCA Convention at the Westin Beach Resort and Spa (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) from July 29th -31st.  This is a time to see the latest in techniques and tactics as well as presentations that deal with the latest issues in our sport (e.g., the middle/high school uniforms, weight classes, weight management, etc.).
     
    Beyond that I suggest holding program development meeting(s) which involve all program leaders from the youth setting through high school and determine an overall philosophy, goals and objectives, practice schedules, practice plans, and competition schedules.  Leaders for next year should also make a concerted effort to involve those athletes who play football.  And why should we do this now? 
     
    RUGBY TACKLING TECHNIQUE: 
    It involves aiming for the area between the bottom of a ball carrier’s jersey number and the top of the knee, hitting with the shoulder instead of the heat by attempting to put the tackler’s cheek on the ball carrier’s butt cheek, and emphasizing the arm clamp and a tight wrap (1).”
     
    If you are a wrestling coach, what does that technique resemble to you?  If you can’t answer that; watch Jordon Burroughs hit his double leg, or any effective double leg takedown.  The above description is that of a perfect rugby tackle that is currently being taught to American football players as a means to cut down on the concussion issues.  I suggest that it is time for wrestling coaches to invade the football coaches’ offices and propose that we in wrestling have the perfect environment to teach their players how to tackle! 

    (Authors note: As a high school football player, I never understood the head in the middle of the numbers tackle technique as it just hurt my neck.  Fortunately as a wrestler, I just used my double leg technique to tackle and had a successful high school football career.)
     
    Check out the Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual at NWCA for more information regarding how prepare leaders.  Also go to the following website to register for the NWCA convention: http://www.nwcaonline.com/nwcawebsite/events/nwcaconvention.aspx
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj


    References:

    Uthman, D. (2015, April 22). The philosophy that transformed Washington’s defense. Received from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2016/04/20/washington-huskies-rugby-style-tackling-chris-petersen/83251200/


    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu

  • Why Do So Many Kids Quit Sport by Age 13?

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    Why Do So Many Kids Quit Sport by Age 13?    

    by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
     
    The answer to this question is simply too much, too soon, and too intense!  A few weeks ago, I read with great interest the NWCA blog from Heath Eslinger the University of Tennessee Chattanooga wrestling coach regarding his take with youth sports that children should play and not pay.  Don’t pay to play on travel teams for the U-10 age groups? He encouraging playing and not paying and cited the fact that as many as 70% of children who begin playing a sport before the age of eight won’t make it to play in middle school.  A major reason for this dropout rate is in part due to the fact that children simply don’t have fun.
     
    But what is fun?  Although research is not exactly clear as to what defines fun there are many thoughts on the topic.  For instance, for many young wrestlers fun is associated with positive movement experiences. This appears to be a key ingredient for keeping children involved in sport.  Visek, et.al., used concept mapping to determine a more research-based concept of fun in a study of youth soccer players.  They concluded that we as coaches and administrators “should advance the understanding of positive, fun movement by establishing a youth sport ethos” (1, P.428).  That is, a sport ethos that relates fun to the trifecta of being a good sport (social), trying hard (internal), and positive coaching (external).
     
    I also read with great interest an Associated Press story on sport specialization versus becoming a multi-sport athlete.  They discuss high rates of burnout and injury associated with single sport participation. Therefore, states such as Michigan that are creating task forces to increase multi-sport participation.  Professionals such as Urban Meyer, Jordan Spieth and John Smoltz have also spoke out in support of multi-sport participation (2).
     
    So why do children drop out before the age of 13-specifically in wrestling? Any of the following will play a roll, however, the main reason always comes back in some way to the lack of fun.

    • Children don’t get successful experiences in practice and competition
    • Children do not get meaningful and positive praise on a daily basis
    • Parents set unrealistic performance goals based on the parent’s view
    • The elementary season, in most cases, is just too long!
    Check out the Check out the NWCA Youth Coaching Manual for more helpful hints on how to keep youth wrestlers engaged and motivated in order to cut the attrition rate.
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    References

    Visek, A.J., Achrati, S.M., Mannix, H. M., McDonnell, K., Harris, B.S., & DiPietro, L. (2015). The Fun Integration Theory: Toward sustaining children and adolescents sport participation. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 12, 424-433.

    Associated Press (2015, May 8, p. 14c).  Where have the multi-sport high school athletes gone?  Erie Times-News:  Times Publishing Company, Erie PA.

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu


  • CHOOSE TO PLAY AND NOT PAY!

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    CHOOSE TO PLAY AND NOT PAY!   

     By: Heath Eslinger
      

         I just read 2 different social media posts that spoke about being undefeated (2-0) in the World Series. Now being 2-0 in “the” World Series is obviously a big deal but what’s ironic about these two World Series events is that they were for six and eight year old boys. Really, six and eight year old World Series?  It’s my parenting choice, but I want to tell you why my family chooses to play and not pay.

         Now I understand that every parent is trying to do what is best for their child. However, I believe we have failed to look at the ramifications. Take this statistic for example:  “Over 70% of kids who begin a sport before they are eight will not play that sport in Middle School”. So all those World Series Championships and the money spent attaining them really amount to very little during the time in their life when they need coaches. I can tell you that I love sports and it is actually my vocation but my children are all under the age of 9 and right now I don’t need to spend money on coaching and youth sporting events. I would rather spend time on parenting and teaching life skills.  

    The goal for every leader should be life transformation. Great outcomes are a result of great people. Be in the business of people.
    — Heath Eslinger

         Elementary kids need parents and parents need to get out and play. At our house we play every game. Kickball, baseball, four square, volleyball, mountain biking and any other game we can conjure up. During all of this play time our kids and all the other kids in the neighborhood are learning the rules, figuring how to make the field of play, learning skills, and most importantly connecting on their own. And yes there is conflict and plenty of it but fortunately the seven year olds work it out rather than the parents fighting in the stands. You laugh because you know it’s true, have seen it happen, or maybe even participated in the occasional parental shout match. Relax, they are eight and no one really cares! Attaining sport related skill doesn’t require a personal coach, private lessons, etc. Most importantly it requires time. At our house we have yet to step on a softball diamond but we play catch daily and have home run derby’s quite often. It’s amazing the amount of reps our kids receive all in the name of play and with little financial investment. Play is important because it’s life giving. Let’s be honest, competition is life draining. That’s why many walk away from sport too early because they are simply over it.  When they need it most they are ready to hang it up. Let’s give them a chance to win a World Series that matters.

         I encourage you to look at why you are going to the ballpark, the basketball gym, etc. It’s in no way, shape, or form bad but maybe your family could be spending that time more wisely and accomplish the same things. Go by a cheap bat, a bucket of balls, a cheap goal, some field paint, and some bases and take your kids outside. As a parent you are the greatest teacher in their life and you can be the greatest example of what it means to be active. I can assure you that if athletic greatness is in their cards then choosing play over choosing to pay will not hold them back. It might actually be the choice that gives them the greatest chance!

    References: Eslinger, Heath, Mr. "Blog." RSS. Heath Eslinger, 2 Mar. 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

    Heath Eslinger
    Head Wrestling Coach
    University of Tennessee- Chattanooga 
    Website: http://heatheslinger.com/contact/
     
  • The CEO Wrestling Coach!

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    The CEO Wrestling Coach!

          
     By: Mike Moyer

     
         There has never been a more important time in the history of amateur wrestling for coaches to have strong CEO skills such as fundraising, marketing, community relations, general leadership and much more.  The need for these skills results from the fact that institutional funding for athletics at all levels (elementary, middle school, high school, and even college) continues to become more scarce.  Unless the institutional wrestling budgets can be supplemented with outside funding, it will become increasing more challenging to operate “educationally based” scholastic wrestling programs.  In fact, we believe the Olympic sports with the brightest future in the educational environment will be those with coaches who are proficient with CEO skills. 
     
        When we interview many 30 year veteran coaches in schools across America, they almost always suggest that the overwhelming majority of their time (decades ago) was dedicated to the technical/tactical aspects of coaching decades ago.  Today, there are so many more administrative duties for head coaches such as paperwork, safety protocol for concussions and other injuries, parental involvement, and expectations to supplement the institutional provided wrestling budget through booster clubs.
     
        Simply stated, it is unlikely that any head wrestling coach (at all age group levels) has the expertise and/or time to perform every administrative duty while also teaching the technical/tactical aspects of the wrestling.  Many of those who try to “do it all” typically end up with very short coaching tenures (i.e. the average tenure of a high school coach today in sports other than football and basketball is only 3-5 years as opposed to 20 years plus decades ago). With this in mind, the key is for the head coach to objectively assess his strengths and then figure out how to surround himself with staff (paid or volunteer) to perform the duties that fall outside of his area of expertise.   
     
        To accomplish this goal, it is important that every wrestling event, promotion, and/or initiative is reduced to writing in such a way that the execution can be easily carried out by other staff members or volunteers.  In the business world, this document would be referred to as the “Standard Code of Operating Procedure” manual.  In the wrestling world, the NWCA refers to the document as the “Coaches Resource Guide” (for elementary, high school, or college coach).  This manual includes sample mission/values statements, tried/proven marketing and fundraising initiatives, challenge match policies, safety protocol, guiding principles for budgeting/scheduling, and much more. 
     
        Complementing our Coaches Resource Manual is a fantastic web-based “Practice Planner” which includes an entire season of prescribed lesson plans for elementary, middle school, and high school wrestling programs.  When combining these two resources, the benefits to the program are as follows:
     
    • The “practice planner” will help head high school wrestling coach in every community create “alignment” with respect to the technique that is being taught at every age group level in his community. This tool will also make it easier to fill lower level coaching vacancies because your “system” is already in place.
      
    • The practice planner is also a great way to insure that when a 35 year veteran coach retires, the program does not lose all of the institutional knowledge (because the coach can leave the practice planner behind as part of his legacy).
     
    • The coaches resource manual will alleviate the need for a young or inexperienced coach to “re-create systems” because everything is laid out so systematically in the manual.   
     
    The next few months is a great time to reflect back on your 2015/16 wrestling season and begin the process of planning for next year.  It may take a little time to customize the Practice Planner and Coaches Resource Guide for your unique circumstances but once it is all in place, you will save countless hours of planning and implementation in the future.

    Mike Moyer
    Executive Director
    National Wrestling Coaches Association
    Office:  717.653.8009
    Email:  mmoyer@nwca.cc 

  • Reflection and Evaluation of the Season (Scholastic)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    Reflection and Evaluation of the Season (Scholastic)

          
      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

         As with the youth program coaches, the high school coach has a variety of components in a program to consider for a season-ending reflection and evaluation.   Again, did the program participants learn basic wrestling skills and did the wrestlers have fun and enjoy the competitive experience? Did the parents exhibit proper parental behavior?  Did the team peak at the right time of the year?  Reflection and evaluation of these and other questions will hopefully provide answers that will help to guide a scholastic program in the future.
     
         All of those are good questions and require reflection and evaluation.  However, the high school years are the key component in the long term athletic development of a high school wrestler.  Most wrestlers ages 14-18 have either entered what can be called the “train to train stage” or “train to compete stage.”  These stages can be found in the Canadian Sport 4 Life and focus on advanced physical training, high level tactical-technical preparation, and formal competition.   Athletes, in our case, wrestlers become more involved in annual periodized training, competition, and recovery plans which hopefully include regional, state, and possibly even national events (1).  With an increased emphasis on performance, high school coaches might want to focus their reflection and evaluation more specifically on how they trained.
     
         Coaches should evaluate their training and competition schedule for the entire season.  Practice length, practice intensity, and the various types of competition (tournament and duals) should be analyzed.  Did wrestlers peak for the big meets, state qualifiers, and state championships?  Or did they become stale or even worse yet, become completely burned out prior to the championship season?  I have seen many a team that was state caliber in January only to falter by the time states rolled around.
     
         An in-depth evaluation of the training and competition schedule should provide coaches with valuable information in planning for next season.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    References:
    1. Canadian Sport for Life.  (2015). Sport for Life LATD Stages. Retrieved April 1, 2016 at http://canadiansportforlife.ca/learn-about-canadian-sport-life/ltad-stages

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu


  • Reflection and Evaluation of the Season (Youth)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    Reflection and Evaluation of the Season (Youth)

          
      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

         There are a variety of components a program administrator of a youth wrestling program might decide on which to focus for reflection and evaluation.  First and foremost, did the program participants learn basic wrestling skills and did they have fun and enjoy the experience.  Was the season too long, too short, or just right?  Did the parent’s exhibit proper youth sport parental behavior?  The answers to these and other questions should help to guide the focus of a program in the future.
     
         However, I believe one of the main components for focus should involve comparing the dropout numbers from the previous year to this year and prepare to note the dropout numbers for the upcoming year.  As has been mentioned time and again, attrition in our youth wrestling programs is leading to a large number of forfeits in the scholastic arena.  So evaluation of the season should revolve around the possibility that youth wrestlers return year after year.
     
         Hopefully, someone has evaluated the coaches who ran the youth program throughout the year.  Did they exhibit a positive attitude, teach sound fundamental skills, and were not overly concerned with winning?  Regardless, administrators might consider instituting a season-ending coaching seminar focusing on how coaches can effectively organize a productive practice and implement positive coaching methods.  In a study comparing Little League baseball coaches who attended a coaching effectiveness training program versus a control group who did not (1); it was found that player attrition assessed the next season found players in the control group withdrawing at a higher rate (26%) than those in the experimental  group (5%).
     
         The moral of the story, especially if there are large numbers of attrition is that coaches need some type of training on how to conduct a productive positive practice and how to provide positive feedback so that that each participant has an enjoyable experience.  Reflection on methods to prevent attrition in our youth wrestling programs is a must!
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    Reference: 
    1. Barnett, N.P., Smoll, F.L., & Smith, R.E. (1992).  Effects of enhancing coach-athlete relationships on youth sport attrition.Sport Psychologist, 6 (2), 111-127.

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu

  • Preparing Wrestlers for College Opportunities

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    Preparing Wrestlers for College Opportunities

          
      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

         I discussed the process and age-groups for long term athlete development a few weeks ago.  As coaches begin to prepare wrestlers for college opportunities they might revisit the “Train to Compete” stage of the Canadian Sport for Life program.  In this stage male’s aged 16-23 (for high school wrestling approximately grades 10-12) need to commit to high-volume and high-intensity training throughout the year (1).  These are the wrestlers on the team who are committed and are aiming to compete in national events.
     
         Wrestlers who hope to compete at the highest level in college (NCAA Division I and II) really need to commit to this stage of training.  That means in addition to wrestling with the team during the season, these wrestlers must also commit to spring and summer workouts and competition.  Wrestling clubs such as the Young Guns Wrestling Clubdirected by Eric Juergens and Jody Strittmatter are providing a training ground for wrestlers hoping to move on to the more elite stage.   Potential college wrestlers should also visit college campuses, hopefully to see a practice, meet the coach, and to watch college competition.
     
         Coaches may also have wrestlers who hope to just stay involved with the sport in college, but are not completely dedicated to the “train to compete” stage.  They can also find wrestling opportunities in the NCAA Division III (no athletic scholarship awards), NAIA, or in junior college arena’s.  Coaches at many of thees types of higher education institutions face roster quotas.  Since these colleges and universities are sometimes enrollment driven, coaches are simply looking for intelligent student-athletes who possess a great work ethic and basic wrestling skills.
     
         In sum, wrestling opportunities in college are abundant for those athletes who are committed.The higher the level of competition, the more committed a wrestler must be to the “train to compete” stage.

        The NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual offers additional tips on how to prepare wrestlers to transition to the next level and prepare for college wrestling opportunities.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj


    References
    1. Sport for Life.  (2015). Long term athletic development.Retrieved February 8, 2016 at http://canadiansportforlife.ca/learn-about-sport-life

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu


  • Transition to the Next Level

    by Morgan Whittemore | Jun 09, 2016

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    Transition to the Next Level
     

      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

         Coaches of the more advanced age-group in the youth wrestling programs need to help prepare athletes to move into the middle school program.  Wrestlers should be made aware that the practice schedules will more than likely move to a five day-a-week practice schedule.  The intensity of the practice will also increase to some degree.
     
    I hope to provide a few suggestions that will help coaches in preparing youth wrestlers for that transition. 
    1. Plan a trip to the middle school to observe a practice; this will be of value and help eliminate the young wrestler’s fear of the unknown. 
    2. Have the middle school coach and/or some of the middle school wrestlers visit a youth practice for introductions and to act as mini-teachers.
    3. Hold some type of social event (pizza party?) to introduce middle school wrestlers to the youth wrestlers.
    4. Consider the possibility of pairing a future middle school wrestler with a youth wrestler to act as a “big brother” for upcoming season.
         In reality, coaches should implement any type of an event that is designed to relieve the anxiety which a youth wrestler might face in making the transition.  Check out the NWCA Youth Coaching Manual for more helpful hints on how coaches might help wrestlers to transition to the next level.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu


  • Post Season Evaluation by Parents (Youth)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Apr 14, 2016
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    Post Season Evaluation by Parents

    Program administrators for a youth wrestling program may want to have parents provide feedback on what went well throughout the season and what aspects of the program could be improved.  In addition administrators should ask parents to evaluate themselves in light of the sport parent code of conduct.  This is a good time of the year to get parents to reflect on their approach to youth wrestling and be reminded of the code of conduct as presented by the American Sport Education Program (1).

    Have parents use Survey Monkey or any other web-based survey instrument to grade themselves on the following:

    1.       Remain in spectator area during matches

    2.       Don’t advise the coach on how to coach

    3.       Don’t make derogatory comments to coaches, officials, or parents of either team

    4.       Don’t drink alcohol at contests or come having drunk too much

    5.       Don’t try to coach your child during the contest

    6.       Cheer for your child’s team

    7.       Show interest, enthusiasm, and support for your child

    8.       Be in control of your emotions

    9.       Help when asked to do so by coaches or officials

    10.   Thank coaches, officials, and other volunteers who conduct the event.

    Coaches and administrators can include evaluation questions with regard to the program philosophy, goals and objectives, and program policy and procedures.  Administrators can also submit open-ended questions to gauge what went well and not so well with the youth wrestling program.  And, always query the parents as to what suggestions might make the program function at a higher level.

    Check out the NWCA Youth Coaching Manual for more helpful hints on how to conduct parent evaluation.

    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

     

    References:

    1.       American Sport Education Program (1994). SportParent. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu
     
     
     
  • Post Season Evaluation by Parents (Scholastic)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Apr 14, 2016

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    Post Season Evaluation by Parents
          A post season evaluation by parents can be a productive conclusion to a wrestling season.  Coaches can use SurveyMonkey or any other provider of web-based survey solutions to gather the insights needed to make more informed program decisions.   A simple survey that can be completed anonymously might provide valuable feedback for future seasons.  

         Hopefully, coaches held some type of a parent orientation at the beginning of the session.  The orientation topics should have included the program philosophy and objectives, rules, policies, and procedures for both practice and competition (1).   Also, hopefully a mode of communication between parents and the coach was established and outlined. 

         A survey form for parent evaluation might include a rating scale to grade the coaches in all of those above-mentioned categories.  Coaches should also include a section for open-ended questions.  For instance, parents should be allowed to state what they thought went well throughout the season.  And then the same for what they felt didn’t go so well.  A final section might be added in which the coach asks for suggestions they may have to improve future seasons.

        This type of season-ending evaluation will help to empower parents and make them feel like they are part of the program.  Additionally, coaches may get suggestions that will actually benefit the program in future years.  Check out the NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual for additional tips on how to include parents in the post-season evaluation.

     

    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj


    References:

    Martens, R.  (2015).  Successful coaching. Champaign, IL:  Human Kinetics.

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu

     
     
     
     
     

  • Recognizing & Celebrating Athletes and Teams (Scholastic)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Apr 14, 2016
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    Recognizing & Celebrating Athletes and Teams

          
      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

          Does your school recognize league championships with some type of a reward such as a ring, a jacket, or a t-shirt?  Do coaches make awards for most pins, takedowns, reversals, etc.?   Are there specific criteria for a person to get a letter?  Is there an award for most improved or most valuable wrestler on the team?  How best should coaches go about celebrating athletes and teams?  This is a topic that requires very careful consideration.
     
         Many wrestling programs offer some type of the above-mentioned extrinsic rewards. What effect if any do these extrinsic rewards have on a wrestlers intrinsic motivation?  We all agree that wrestlers should be motivated from within (i.e., intrinsically).  Cognitive Evaluation Theory suggests that if the awards are more informational in nature rather than controlling they can have a positive effect on intrinsic motivation (1). Thus, an award such as most takedowns can be conceived as informational since, “the more I score-the closer I get to that award.”  Thus, there can be merit in making these types of awards.
     
         However, coaches may want to proceed with caution when presenting awards such as the MVP and/or most improved.  These type of awards single out individuals and may cause some dissention within the program ranks.  Hopefully, everyone in the program improved, so what it the rubric for determining “the most?”  And again if two wrestlers were state champions, was one truly more outstanding than the other?  I am not condemning these MVP-type of awards; however, a program might be better served by presenting awards that can be shared by the whole team (e.g., winning a league title).  Just a little food for thought.
     
         Wrestlers do deserve recognition for their accomplishments.  However, coaches must use caution in determining the best manner for recognizing those accomplishments.  The NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual offers additional tips on how to recognize the accomplishments of wrestlers and wrestling teams.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj


    References
    1. Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M.  (1994).  Promoting self-determined education.  Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 38, 3-41.

     

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu



     
     

     
  • Recognizing & Celebrating Athletes and Teams (Youth)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Apr 14, 2016
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    Recognizing & Celebrating Athletes and Teams

          
      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

       “I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm not about to raise to boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best...cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better”  (1. James Harrison).
     
         I think that many in the youth wrestling programs should take a long and hard look at that statement.  I am afraid that we in the youth sport business may be going down a road in which our extrinsic rewards are in fact inhibiting higher level sport participation and contributing to the dropout rate in our sport.  I was in the state of Washington recently and stopped by a youth wrestling tournament and saw a ten-year-old receive a trophy that was nearly a tall as he was for winning two matches.  And, I would be willing to bet that the Washington scholastic state high school champion that year only received a small-sized medal or plaque.
     
         The extrinsic reward system seems to be upside down, getting smaller as the level of competition increases.  So what is the answer for recognizing our youth wrestlers?  How about some type of a social event such as a nice pizza party or a roller skating party at the conclusion of the season?  In terms of recognition, maybe call out the names of children who attended every practice?  Or how about a certificate for children who learned and could execute seven of wrestling’s basic skills?  But participation trophies-I side with James Harrison.
     
         If we truly want to eliminate the forfeit from scholastic wrestling, we must develop a solution to keep more competitors from year to year.  I have a three-point plan that may help with this issue; first, we cut length of the season, second, we limit the number competitive events in U10, and finally eliminate the giant trophies at youth tournaments.  We must make sure that kids have fun and want to come back for more year after year!  The NWCA Youth Coaching Manual for more helpful hints on how to reward and recognize athletes and teams.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    References
     
    1.  Harrison, J. (2015, August 15). Instagram post.

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu



     
     
     
  • Preparing for Setbacks (Scholastic)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Apr 14, 2016

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    Preparing for Setbacks

      
     by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD     
         
         It is important that coaches prepare wrestlers for encountering setbacks throughout the season.  The results of neglecting the possibility of a wrestler having a setback during a season can be catastrophic.  For instance, I once coached a wrestler who had the single-minded goal of becoming a state champion.  Yet when he was upset early in the state tournament he had no backup plan.  In the wrestlebacks, he faced a younger wrestler who he had easily defeated three times previously and lost.  The main reason he did not even place was that he had not prepared for such a setback and thus did not have a plan for that situation.
     
         Coaches might have their wrestlers employ a 2-P (positive and productive) refocusing statement to deal with possible setbacks (1).   These would be statements that could be used in certain trigger situations.   For example one trigger from above might include being upset in a tournament (“Dang!!  I got beat and can’t with the title”).  A refocus positive and productive refocusing statement would include, “Ok now I have to focus on coming back, wrestling hard, and placing to help my team.”
     
        This 2P refocus statement process could be also used for individual match situation.  An example here might include the trigger of being taken down mat side.  The positive and productive refocus statement would be, “No big deal-get a quick escape and I’ll score my own takedown.”
     
        The 2P refocus statement process can also be combined with positive self-talk and positive imagery to help wrestlers deal with potential setbacks in individual matches, tournaments, or anytime during the season. 
     
        The NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual offers additional tips on how to coaches might help wrestlers to prepare for setbacks during the season.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    References: 
    1. Johnson, D.A.  (2004).  Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind (Larry Lauer, p. 37).  Ithaca NY: Momentum Media Publishing. 
    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu


     
     

     
  • Preparing for Setbacks (Youth)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Apr 14, 2016
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    Preparing for Setbacks

          
      by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

          In the youth wrestling arena, I think it is important to identify who coaches need to really help when it comes to the topic of preparing for setbacks.  Is it the youth wrestler on the mat or is it the parent in the stands?  Parents of wrestlers have often been wrestlers themselves and sometimes take it personally when their children are defeated.  Thus a youth program wrestling coach must be prepared to help both populations in order to prepare for almost certain setbacks.
     
          First coaches should continually reinforce to both parents and wrestlers that the focus of U10 wrestling is to have fun and learn basic skills.  Remind the children that they are just attempting to improve their skills on a daily basis and from match to match.  Children will be defeated in matches and coaches should continually insist that they “learn the lesson” from that experience.  In other words, what could they possibly do better next time and/or what do they need to work on in practice?
     
         Parents need to be reminded to not let their perceived love for a child be tied to performance on the mat.  I’ve heard many parents say that their child wants to do this or that with regard to wrestling.  However, I always wonder if in fact the child really does want such and such or are they doing it to get a parents love? 
     
        Coaches need to help both children and parents deal with setbacks.  The best way for helping both populations is to utilize a task-oriented approach and encourage parents to be sure to separate their love of a child from the child’s performance on the mat.
     
       Children are very resilient and often times bounce back from setbacks quickly (e.g., win or lose-watch any little league baseball team at the ice cream shop after a game).  Parents on the other hand, may need a little extra help from coaches and program administrators.  The NWCA Youth Coaching Manual for more helpful hints on how to help deal with setbacks.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj
    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu




     
     
  • Managing Your Nerves Under Pressure (Scholastic)

    by Morgan Whittemore | Feb 03, 2016

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    Managing Your Nerves Under Pressure (Scholastic)

      
     by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD     
         
         One of the most common methods wrestlers utilize to manage their nerves is to use some form of deep breathing and progressive relaxation.  This is another of the mental skills that hopefully coaches have taught their wrestlers to practice throughout the season.  If not and for the immediate future, coaches might stress that wrestlers simply be aware of things they can and can’t control.  And they might also instruct wrestlers to simply stay in the present, take a deep breath, and focus on the tasks at hand (e.g., using an arm drag to set up a leg attack) during practice and competition.
     
         However, going forward coaches can teach their wrestlers how to use progressive relaxation to remain calm and focused during a match or tournament.  In Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind, Dr. Larry Lauer discusses a four-phase cycle to learn progressive relaxation (1). 

    • Phase 1-Tense-Relax Cycle:  Complete tense and relaxation of muscle groups (feet, lower leg, upper leg, hips, core, upper arms, lower arms, face, etc.).  Complete these exercises 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times per week.
    • Phase 2-Relax Only Cycle:  Relax muscle groups individually without tensing.  Begin to use a cue word such as “relax” or “let go” and/or use a peaceful image (e.g., water flowing in a stream). Complete these exercises 5-10 minutes, 7 times per week.
    • Phase 3-Full-Speed Relaxation Cycle: Learn to relax muscle groups individually and the goal is to do so with a deep inhalation and exhale.  Complete these exercises 7 times per week 20 times a day.
    • Phase 4-Utilization Cycle:  Use relaxation technique in stressful situations, first in practice and then in competitive situations (1, p.50).
     
    The NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual offers additional tips on how to handle pressure.
     
    “Find a way and make it happen”….dj

    References: 
    1. Johnson, D.A.  (2004).  Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind.  Ithaca NY: Momentum Media Publishing. 

    Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
    Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
    Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind
    DennisJohnson@mail.sunyjcc.edu



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