Reflection and Evaluation of the Season (Youth)
There are a variety of components a program administrator of a youth wrestling program might decide on which to focus for reflection and evaluation. First and foremost, did the program participants learn basic wrestling skills and did they have fun and enjoy the experience. Was the season too long, too short, or just right? Did the parent’s exhibit proper youth sport parental behavior? The answers to these and other questions should help to guide the focus of a program in the future.
However, I believe one of the main components for focus should involve comparing the dropout numbers from the previous year to this year and prepare to note the dropout numbers for the upcoming year. As has been mentioned time and again, attrition in our youth wrestling programs is leading to a large number of forfeits in the scholastic arena. So evaluation of the season should revolve around the possibility that youth wrestlers return year after year.
Hopefully, someone has evaluated the coaches who ran the youth program throughout the year. Did they exhibit a positive attitude, teach sound fundamental skills, and were not overly concerned with winning? Regardless, administrators might consider instituting a season-ending coaching seminar focusing on how coaches can effectively organize a productive practice and implement positive coaching methods. In a study comparing Little League baseball coaches who attended a coaching effectiveness training program versus a control group who did not (1); it was found that player attrition assessed the next season found players in the control group withdrawing at a higher rate (26%) than those in the experimental group (5%).
The moral of the story, especially if there are large numbers of attrition is that coaches need some type of training on how to conduct a productive positive practice and how to provide positive feedback so that that each participant has an enjoyable experience. Reflection on methods to prevent attrition in our youth wrestling programs is a must!
“Find a way and make it happen”….dj
Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind