Coaching Development for Scholastic Coaches
"High school wrestling participation can have a number of benefits that young men and women cannot receive in the classroom. These benefits are not guaranteed, however, and quality coaching is the single biggest factor insuring that beneficial effects result. A key way to provide quality coaching is from quality education like the NWCA scholastic coaches leadership program."
There is nobody that plays a more important role in the future growth of scholastic wrestling than the head coach. This is why the NWCA has made the decision to invest so heavily in coaching development. In collaboration with many of our nation’s top coaching development experts, the NWCA has developed comprehensive educational resources designed to strengthen a coach’s CEO skills. Unlike decades ago when a coach’s primary role was to simply teach the technical and tactical aspects of wrestling, successful coaches today need to have solid CEO skills including but not limited to fundraising, marketing/promotion, communication, organizational, and much more.
Further, as you review many of our coaching development materials, you will see a heavy emphasis on “best practices” for improving the way we recruit and retain wrestlers in our sport. The single greatest threat to the future of scholastic wrestling is the forfeit. While overall participation in high school wrestling has grown by 20,000, the average roster size of our high school wrestling teams is steadily declining. This phenomenon is not unique to wrestling as it affects most other Olympic sports. The primary culprits include: more sport specialization at earlier ages, more activities for students to choose from, wrestling is very demanding, and so forth.
Nevertheless, a forfeit represents one of two things. It either represents a student in your school who was once part of our sport and is no longer; or it represents a student in your school who has not yet been invited into our sport. Regardless, the students are where they have always been (in the schools) and what has to change is the way we recruit and retain them.
While you might think your greatest opponent is your cross-town dual meet rival, it could very well be all of the other activities your wrestlers could pursue (as opposed to wrestling). It is imperative that the wrestling coach provides an exceptional student-athlete experience. The focus of your program should be on skill development and helping each student/parent to understand how lessons learned on a wrestling mat will translate well into their personal and professional careers.
While winning is important, it can’t be the only definition of success. Other key indicators of a successful program include but are not limited to: how many wrestlers make it from the youth level to their senior year, the branding of your team in the school and in the community, and ultimately, what becomes of your wrestlers long after they graduate.
As you review the various coaching development resources we have, you’ll see a heavy emphasis on the promotion of best practices for improving recruitment/retention of wrestlers and specific strategies that include:
- The importance of scheduling cross town dual meet rivalries (building a fan base and providing an opportunity for wrestlers of average ability to contribute to the success of the team are important strategies to recruit and retain wrestlers)
- Importance of developing an appropriate schedule that is commensurate with the level of talent on your team
- Expand the definition of success to be more than just winning (should include skill development, improvement, team cohesion, self- confidence, community service, etc.)
- Strategies to leverage the influence of parents and booster clubs to ensure the overall success of your team
So, on behalf of the NWCA Board of Directors, we hope you enjoy these resources!