High School Wrestling Coaches: Starting the process to recruit for the fall-Don’t Wait!

High School Wrestling Coaches:  Starting the process to recruit for the fall-Don’t Wait!

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD  | May 23, 2017

The school year is rapidly ending in many states and this is the final time to recruit students for next wrestling season.  So, hit the lunchrooms and the physical education classes in the MIDDLE SCHOOLS and look for students to recruit for a modified summer program.  Middle school students do not usually have summer jobs and may be available for a one or two-day-a-week practice/play introduction for our sport.

I am going to cite a number of recruiting ideas that I picked up at last year’s NWCA convention presented by Pete Jacobson (Edgemont High School, NY) on recruitment.  He correctly posits that the middle school should be the place to emphasize recruiting.

In his Middle School Recruitment and Retention Playbook (1), Jacobson notes that when coaches are recruiting they should target a smaller market, appeal to student interests, and do so with the power of a personal contact.  So get into the lunchroom and recruit!

In addition, he lists several recruiting strategies that may be of value during this final school-day recruitment:

  •  Talk to PE teachers
  •  Talk to guidance counselors
  •  Talk to other sport coaches
  •  Identify the peer influencers in the cafeteria
  •  Use current wrestlers to help recruit
  •  Recruit kids cut from other teams that might be potential wrestlers
  •  Talk to incoming students from the youth program

Jacobson insists that it is important to appeal to student interests.  Strategies include creating a short action video, creating action posters, holding open-gym activities/games and using t-shirts as rewards (see reference below for more ideas).

Finally, another aspect that may help in the recruitment this spring is the perceived-stigma of wearing a singlet that has been eliminated, as wrestlers are now allowed to compete in fight shorts and t-shirts.

Be sure to sign up now for this year’s NWCA convention August 4-6 in Daytona Beach and go to the NWCA website for materials such as NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual (Scholastic Edition) for more ideas on recruiting students for next season.

Find a way and make things happen!


  1. 1. Jacobson, P., (2015). Middle school recruitment & retention playbook. (URL: http://www.winsmarter.com/fill-your-roster/).

NWCA Sport Blog

High School Wrestling Coaches:  Starting the process to recruit for the fall-Don’t Wait!

Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)

Assistant Wrestling Coach (Eisenhower High School-PA) & author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind


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