CEO for the Total Program-Aligning With All Age Groups


CEO for the Total Program-Aligning With All Age Groups

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

As mentioned in the past, I work with personnel from the Institute for the Study of Youth Sport at Michigan State University to deliver the NWCA Leadership Academy at the annual summer wrestling convention. This program is designed to educate collegiate coaches on how to develop and utilize CEO skills to manage their programs. The high school head coach however, is not unlike the collegiate coach in that he/she is the Corporate Executive Officer (CEO) for their school and community’s wrestling program. Thus the coaches should become experienced and efficient in the areas of communication, program promotion, safety, ethics, fund-raising, and in promoting educational values of wrestling.

Another aspect that high school coaches should have an understanding is that of the stages of growth and development of children and adolescents. Coaches also must be cognizant of the varying levels of maturation within age groups and design practice and competition accordingly. Even in the varsity room, with wrestlers aged anywhere from 14-19 there is a wide variance in physical, mental, and social maturity. Special efforts should be made to meet the needs of all individuals and that might even mean having some wrestlers involved in total all-out live combat wrestling, while other less-developed (physically and technically) might spend time sparring (50% go’s) and/or in wrestling-related game play to improve technique.

Martens (1) points to two classic studies with implications for youth wrestling, in which 50% of the players in the Little League World Series were found to be one year older in anatomical age while the pitchers, first basemen, and left fielders were nearly two years older in anatomical age (Note: who usually win’s in elementary wrestling age-group tournaments?…the older and more physically/emotionally mature individuals!). Further, he notes that only about 25% of elementary aged stars remain the stars in high school according to Clarke (2). This has huge implications for middle school and youth programs. Therefore the coach should set practice schedules and place LIMITS on the length of the practice time and the season which are appropriate for specific age-groups.

Coaches should refer to the NWCA Youth Sport Manual which suggests young and inexperienced wrestlers should not practice for more than 75 minutes and participate in at-most a 10 week season. Older and more experienced elementary and middle school wrestlers will find 75-90 minute practices appropriate with a three month season.

“Find a way and make it happen”….dj


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

2. Clarke, H. (1968). Characteristics of young athletes, Kinesiology Review, 33-42.

Scholastic Wrestling Coaches: CEO for the Total Program-Aligning With All Age Groups

Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
Former wrestling coach & author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind

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