High School Wrestling Coaches: Importance of a 360 Evaluation of Your Program

High School Wrestling Coaches: Importance of a 360 Evaluation of Your Program

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD  | April 11, 2017

According to the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS), participation in high school wrestling has been experiencing a gradual decrease in recent years. Participation by high school boys between 2011 and 2016 has dropped from 272,149 (2011-12) to 258,208 (2015-16) (1). We in the wrestling community must ascertain the reasons for this decrease. Is wrestling simply too hard? Are there other sports or activities that are more attractive? Or, more importantly, are we in the high school wrestling community not doing a good job of recruiting athletes and/or marketing our programs? A good first step in answering these and other questions might include a 360-degree evaluation of our individual wrestling programs.

A 360-degree evaluation involves an evaluation by everyone that the program touches and/or involves. In the case of a high school wrestling coach and program, those involved might include a sample (one or two from each group) of the following: direct supervisors (athletic director), administrators (principal), assistant coaches, athletic trainers, wrestlers, parents, teachers, and coaches from other sports. An evaluation of this type can help to shed light on problem issues and increase ideas from those involved. There are both pros (e.g., more people feel part of the program, get ideas for a better program) and cons (e.g., negative input from parent, administrator, wrestler, etc.) to conducting a 360-degree evaluation.

The NWCA currently provides NCAA coaches who complete their CEO Leadership Academy with a NWCA 360-Degree Evaluation of their program. The evaluation, developed by Dr. Dan Gould of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sport at Michigan State University, provides feedback to the coach in in a variety of areas (2). Areas of evaluation include: program vision, being a role model, communication, motivation, success, technical expertise, managerial (budget, paperwork, etc.), marketing, recruiting, fund-raising, community relationships, academic support, health and wellness, and ability to teach life skills. COMING SOON-THE NWCA IS CURRENTLY PLANNING LEADERSHIP ACADEMIES FOR HIGH SCHOOL COACHES THAT WILL INCLUDE A 360-DEGREE SURVEY AND SUMMATIVE EVALUATION FOR SUCCESSFUL GRADUATES!!!

However in the meantime, coaches should involve and solicit evaluation from a sampling of people involved in your particular high school wrestling program. We in the wrestling community must work to grow man’s oldest sport and to stop the steady decline in the wrestling participation numbers for high schools.

“Find a way and make it happen”


1. National Federation of High Schools (2017). High school participation numbers. http://www.nfhs.org/ParticipationStatics/ParticipationStatics.aspx/

2. NWCA CEO Coaching Leadership Academy. (2017). NWCA 360 degree coaching leadership feedback.

Dennis Johnson— Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)

Former wrestling coach & author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind


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