High School Wrestling Coaches: Team Building Concepts For The Spring and Summer

High School Wrestling Coaches: Team Building Concepts For The Spring and Summer

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD  | April 25, 2017

I have discussed team cohesion in previous blogs. I remind the readers that there are two distinct types of cohesion, one task and one social. Task cohesion is the ability for team members to work together in terms of tactical-technical preparation. Team building concepts on the other hand fit more readily into the domain of social cohesion. In other words, do the wrestlers like to be with one another outside of the wrestling room and do they enjoy their place in the social structure of the team?

In order to build any type of cohesion, coaches should work to communicate effectively, set challenging group goals, explain individual roles for team success, and encourage a group identity (1). Research indicates that team-building activities have an overall positive effect on performance and a positive effect on cohesion. In addition, those team-building activities lasting longer than two weeks have a more moderate positive effect (2).

The spring and summer offer an extended period of time in which to provide wrestlers with team-building activities. Hopefully most wrestlers engage in some kind of spring/summer sport such as track, baseball, tennis, soccer, or golf to broaden their athletic IQ and yet still find time to train with a high school club team once or twice a week. Wrestlers might also find time to participate in spring/summer tournaments and to engage the team-building process.

An example of a team bonding (i.e., team building) activity would be to have all members of the team engage in a civic project or some type of community activity. Community activities might include activities such as volunteering to marshal a 5K fun, or being responsible for parking cars at the county fair, or operating a community clean-up day. Other team building activities might include participating as a team in; paintball, rock-climbing, high ropes courses, white-water rafting, or a camping trip. The summer is an ideal time to work on team building to build social cohesion.

If the team has wrestling club workouts throughout the summer, coaches can hold a meeting after practice at a local restaurant or pizza shop where the entire team can meet (whether they were at practice or not) and enjoy camaraderie. Finally, a coach might take the entire team to a college and participate in a team wrestling camp. Wrestlers will get to eat, sleep, and train together for a week. This will allow coaches to further impact the team cohesion with discussion individual roles and goals for the upcoming season.

CAUTION: If teams participate in any over-night activities coaches MUST remind wrestlers and then monitor them to be sure that there is no form of hazing initiated. Hazing activities are illegal in most states and have absolutely no place in a youth, high school, or college wrestling team settings.

Have fun and “find a way.”


1. Weinberg, R.S., & Gould, D. (2015). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

2. Martin, L., Carron, A., Burke, S. (2009). Team attributions in sport: A meta-analysis. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 26, 136-153.

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

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


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