Keeping Wrestlers Motivated And Engaged (Youth)

Keeping Wrestlers Motivated and Engaged

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

What is a youth wrestling coach or program administrator to do in order to keep wrestlers engaged and motivated?  Hopefully, adults involved with wrestling programs understand the developmental and individual differences between children involved and plan accordingly.  Remember, they are not miniature adults!

According to Mike Moyer the Executive Director of the NWCA, the number one detriment to high school wrestling is the “forfeit”.   Therefore, program administrators and coaches in youth programs should be conscious of potential burnout practices and follow recommendations regarding age-appropriate practice time and length of season (1).  Research indicates that it is best for children under the age of 12 to engage in sport sampling (i.e., try a bunch of sports) and not to focus solely on wrestling.  With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to keep children motivated and engaged:


  • Provide the children for successful experiences in practice and competition
  • Be sure to provide children with meaningful and positive praise on a daily basis
  • Set realistic performance goals based on the child’s individual abilities
  • Games, games, games!!!  Play a lot of wrestling-related game and keep practices short  (1)

Check out the Check out the NWCA Youth Coaching Manual for more helpful hints on how to keep youth wrestlers engaged and motivated.

“Find a way and make it happen”….dj


  1. Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2015). 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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