Keeping Wrestlers Motivated And Engaged (Scholastic)

Keeping Wrestlers Motivated and Engaged

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

The holiday celebrations are over and it is time for wrestling coaches to prepare their charges for a run toward individual and team championships.  Schools are back in session and the athletes are returning to a normal schedule.  However after six to eight weeks of practice, the wrestling workouts may have become boring and monotonous.   What is a coach to do to keep wrestlers engaged and motivated?

There are several helpful strategies a coach might employ to combat the mid-season doldrums.  First, and these strategies are all based on the underpinning wellspring that coaches operate in an environment that is task-based.  That is, where wrestlers are encouraged to see success as improving their techniques and tactics and not necessarily as wins and losses.  (Personal note-I once coached a wrestler who was 1-7 at the Christmas break and ended up winning sections, placing in districts and just narrowly missed qualifying for the state tournament at regions).  The task-based environment enhances one’s intrinsic motivation, in other words-the joy of wrestling.

The following are a few simple suggestions to help keep wrestlers motivated (1):

  1. Provide for successful experiences in practice and competition
  2. Be sure to provide wrestlers with meaningful praise on a daily basis
  3. Understand that there are individual differences among the wrestlers on the team
  4. Involve wrestlers in decision-making for certain segments of the daily practice 
  5. MOST IMPORTANTLY, mix up the daily routine!!!!  Rearrange the practice schedule, play some wrestling related games, and begin to cut practice time.  Coaches might even consider giving the team a day off from time to time (1, p. 142-143).

Check out the Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual at NWCA for more information regarding how to keep wrestlers engaged and motivated.

“Find a way and make it happen”….dj


  1. Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2013). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. Champaign, IL:  Human Kinetics.

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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