October 2021 Scholastic Coaches Update
Adding These to Your Season’s Checklist
As we embark on a new scholastic wrestling season, we typically look first to establish our season goals, our program’s objectives and review the mission, all the while deciding on the best methods to accomplish all of these. First and foremost, these processes should answer the question of how they will enhance our program and benefit our athletes. We must understand the significance of the impact we, as the coach, can make in these two areas of focus. They must be clearly identified and practiced in an intentional manner. Once you have identified and shared these culture-building and student/athlete-driven objectives, the real trick is to accomplish them throughout the season. You may want to reflect on YOUR performance weekly to assess how you did. So many times, good intentions get abandoned as the season progresses. Evaluating and reflecting on your areas of focus helps to maintain your ultimate ability to experience success at the end of the season. Below, I have added a couple of ideas that might be useful to grow your program’s relevance and increase the support from both your school community and your local wrestling community. While I’m sure you have many other ideas to add value to your program, you may want to include some of these.
Make your program visible within your school: Decide how to best highlight your team’s accomplishments, your wrestlers, and your coaching staff. These might include significant wrestling-related benchmarks, student wrestling accomplishments, or even personal achievements. Decide where and how they should be shared.
Be visible in your community: Taking part in a community service project or charity is an excellent way to teach your kids the value of community service while showing those in your community that you’re teaching kids more than just wrestling skills and strategies.
Team building activities: These are critical for teaching the overall concept of “TEAM.” Sharing experiences outside the wrestling room can bring a team together in a different social setting. Team meals, Holiday activities, fitness-related games, helping to coach the youth program, etc., are just a few ideas.
Highlight the accomplishments of other athletes or students in your school: Invite others to recognize at your events or host a special night to honor an organization or group. For example, if your school’s volleyball or track team won a conference or state title, take time to recognize them before an event. Encourage your athletes to attend their classmate’s events (other sports teams), and they might start to return the gesture. Kids will support each other, but sometimes coaches may need to show them how this can be accomplished. I witnessed enthusiastic support of teams by all athletes during my coaching tenure. After all, some of these kids have been friends for many years, some as early as the pre-school days.
Recognize local community members: There are so many people within our communities that are doing great things. Many are not well known for what they do or for the services and accomplishments they achieve. Highlight their achievements at an event, invite them to hand out awards at an event, ask them to your annual banquet, etc. These are all easy things to do, and you would be surprised at the reception and appreciation level you get from these small gestures. Additionally, it sends a message to your athletes of what’s essential on a larger scale. It’s clearly something in their future as they become contributing adults.
School Board meeting agendas: Get on a School Board agenda just before or after your season to briefly highlight something of significance that’s happened in your program this year. I can tell you that School Boards love to hear what the kids in their district are doing, and it helps to build a strong relationship between you and the School Board members. This could become critical when tough decisions are made in the future. Let them know what you are doing and what your program stands for other than just wrestling technique and strategy.
Off-season programs: Make sure your team has plenty of time to establish and schedule activities out of season. Are there opportunities to develop their skills through practice, compete in events, get in the weight room for strength development, attend a summer team camp and spend some additional relationship building with their teammates out of season in a different environment? These things should be communicated to both athletes and parents ahead of time to avoid scheduling conflicts later.
These are just a few thoughts to get you thinking. As previously stated, I’m confident you have many other great ideas. Still, the real goal is to get them established, stay focused on them, and provide your student/athletes with a positive and quality life experience through wrestling.
Best wishes in your upcoming season, and remember, you are the CEO of your district’s wrestling program. You get to establish the brand and culture of your program