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Thread: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

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  1. #1
    Redshirt german663's Avatar
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    Default New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    I am a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at a high school in Arkansas. This is my first year at coaching and I've been at it since September. I just wanted to take a few minutes and make some general comments and, hopefully, get some advice from guys who've done this for a while.

    1. Wrestling is relatively new in Arkansas, so finding qualified wrestling coaches is difficult. That's why I'm coaching. I have wrestled quite a bit in my life but I've never coached, and it's been a real education (for me). There is so much I thought I knew but I am not always great at imparting what knowledge I have to the kids.

    2. Wrestling at our school is definitely wrestling on a budget. Other sports like football, basketball, and baseball get first pick in terms of the facilities and players. We've spent many rainy days running the stairs in the halls, doing sprints and push-ups on the hard floors when the gym and the mats weren't available.

    3. Our wrestlers are (mostly) very low-income kids. In Arkansas, kids from the private schools and from more affluent backgrounds go to the Arkansas Wrestling Academy where they have access to Pat Smith, a four-time NCAA champion. My kids can't afford that sort of thing (many of them don't even get a square meal in a given day unless they eat at school) so they really have to rely on our head coach (who's good) and me (who's learning).

    4. Nutrition is a real problem. The kids often do not have access to high-quality food. They (and their families) eat a lot of fast food and just general junk. I find it difficult to lecture a kid on nutrition when he has no choice in what he eats or may not even get but one meal a day.

    5. With all these difficulties, I have to say that the rumors about today's youth being lazy and addicted to cell phones and PC games are false. These kids work out until they puke. They want to learn. They want to improve. They walk to school and to practice. They throw themselves into the workouts, and they are so incredibly nice to each other. I thought high school wrestlers from an inner city school would be so mean to each other. Not these guys. They try so hard to push everyone to do their best.

    So, you can see that I have a lot of reasons to worry about these guys and to wish that I could somehow provide better instruction for them. I need to improve my ability. I need to learn more and learn how to teach. But, the good news is that I come home from practice and I feel good. Not because of any sacrifices I may make (those are minimal) but because of the sacrifices I see these kids making to try to improve, to encourage each other, and to achieve something. I just wish there was more I could do.

  2. #2

    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Coach, you have already done the one most important thing that you could do. You have cared a little about them and demonstrated that care.
    There was a local club where the coaches all wore tees that said "Take the time to teach a kid something good, or someone will take the time to teach him something bad". I really believe this is true. One of the things that I find absolutely remarkable is that in the length of time I have been involved in wrestling, I have only run across one wrestler that I thought was a punk. Wrestling runs the punks off. They don't have what it takes. In fact, now that I think of it, he quit the team his Senior year. You are going to involve yourself with (and they with you) some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. And they will come back into your life once they graduate, sometimes with good news, sometimes bad - but they will always show you love and give you a sense of pride.
    There are people on this site who are really good at helping with the development of programs and with coaching advice. I am going to leave it to them to answer specific questions that you might have as you go along. You have found a well-spring of information, don't be shy about tapping into it.
    I will point out one thing for your wrestlers. Eggs are cheap, and they are a great source of protein. It doesn't take a great level of skill to scramble them - but they can get much more creative with the help of a site like Allrecipes.com - recipes, menus, meal ideas, food, and cooking tips. They can do fritattas, omelets, souffl├ęs, deviled, hard and soft boiled, shirred - a million different ways with a million different tastes and textures - and I am paying under $3 for 18 at Costco.
    Meanwhile, welcome to the fraternity I wish you well.

    R.I.P. Cyrano and Roxanne.

  3. #3

    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Whoops - I left out something I meant to say - recruit females! You don't know what coaching is like until you work with the girls. Ignoring the fact that you have a great chance at filling those lower weight classes, the girls don't start out with a bunch of assumptions that they already KNOW how to do this. They LISTEN to the coach! Just be really careful about chewing butt. Chew out a guy, he says "what an a$$hole the coach is" and goes on with practice. Chew out a girl, she says "Coach hates me, I have nothing left to live for."

    R.I.P. Cyrano and Roxanne.

  4. #4
    Redshirt german663's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Thanks for the words of encouragement.

    This has been a pretty good week for us. We had a tri meet this past Thursday and came out victorious in both matches - although I have to say - with some pretty big caveats. Our opponents both had very small squads. One school had only three wrestlers, one of whom was a 170-pound girl. The other had only five wrestlers. We marched into the old gym in that small Arkansas town with seventeen wrestlers - almost all of whom are African-American. One of the opposing coaches told me that this was the most non-white people to be in town...ever. However, before the night was out, opposing wrestlers were sitting on our bench with our wrestlers (even the ones they'd just wrestled) and our guys routinely went over the other benches to talk to their opponents and share email and phone numbers. A lot of friends were made that night.

    Back to those caveats: we did not really wrestle as well as I would have liked. Our guys are aggressive (for the most part) and strong, but they lack the ability to defend from bottom and basically know one good move: front headlock to pin. I cannot get them to drop their level and go for a takedown. Scoring points makes sense to them intellectually, but on the mats they just try and go for a pin - no matter what. Against wrestlers with any ability to defend, they are stymied and frequently beaten. Another issue we face is with our heavyweights. They are all football players and have just come off one of our high school's best seasons in years. But on the mats, they lack aggression. For some reason, they just won't get aggressive. Instead, they passively stand there and get taken down. Once their opponent is on top, it's curtains. I'm not sure what to do with them. I try and get them psyched up and mean, but they just don't seem to have it on the mats. On the football field, yeah.

    We've got another tri meet this Tuesday and then a tournament next week. I am hoping we can take things up a notch. But only time will tell.

  5. #5

    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Congrats man. i remember my first time actually trying the coaching thing as a junior in high school. loved it and have done it ever since but have only done it seriously for the last 5 years. I have to say your post was lengthy but you are definitely headed in the right direction. fund raising is going to be critical for your program, it'll help get your guys get equipment that they need. fund raising is a difficult thing to ask your kids to do on their own, what I've seen do with success is making a trip with all the kids and parents/coaches and blitz strip malls and malls. you'll be able to get a supply of equipment for the kids as well as books to teach them about nutrition. eating healthy and eating unhealthy cost about the same if it is understood correctly. you are closer to big ten schools than I am and most of the Big Ten colleges have clinics and camps over the summer. those camps and clinics offer great coaching clinics and camps too. the best advice i was ever given as a coach was "just b/c you have the title of coach doesn't mean that you can't learn too". this was from my high school head coach and it has served me well b/c I have learned that in wrestling there really isn't a right and wrong, just different. just b/c one coach or a few coaches say something doesn't work, it doesn't mean that it doesn't work. the best thing you can do for your kids it get them as much time on the mat as possible. good luck in your future endeavors, if you need another coach to reach out to please feel free to contact me and I'll do what I can to help you as much as possible.

  6. #6
    Redshirt german663's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Rogueagent08 - thanks for the support and encouragement. It has been an exciting year for us and we are just about to go into our final matches of the season. Next week we take on Bryant High School - a tough bunch - and then we will be hosting the 7A Tournament where our guys will compete for seeding in the State Tournament. I think the true nature of wrestling as a sport is finally sinking in on some of my juniors and sophomores (remember wrestling is very new to Arkansas). They are just beginning to really see how important it is to score points (as opposed to just going for a pin every time). We've tried to knock that into their heads, but I guess they had to see it to truly understand. I wish we had access to wrestling on TV down here or even wrestling at the college level. Yeah, we have OBU and CBC, but what we really need is for the Arkansas Razorbacks to start a Division I team. Until our kids start seeing wrestling on TV and in person they will continue to sort of stumble into it as an alternative to basketball and football.

  7. #7

    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Don't count on having an SEC wrestling team unless Title 9 goes away with the introduction of Missouri to the SEC. The introduction of a school with such a strong wrestling tradition to the SEC will have severe positive or possible negative impact to wrestling programs at the high school level in the the areas that the SEC covers. I am glad that your hard work and dedication to this sport and to the kids of your program that they are starting to see things come to fruition. Keep up the great work.

  8. #8
    Redshirt german663's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    Our season came to an end Saturday night at the Arkansas State Wrestling Tournament. We did the best we have ever done as a school (in our three-year wrestling history) placing one wrestler at sixth. It was pretty exciting for our 182-pounder. He worked very hard to achieve his medal, and although he was a little disappointed not to have advanced to third, we were all very proud of him.

    It has been an exciting, and sometimes, frustrating, season. There were times when I was so down about our prospects and I was so worried about our kids, that I had a hard time seeing how things could get better. But they did.

    I think that the one aspect of the season that I was most unprepared for was the emotional response that some of our wrestlers had to loosing. No one likes to loose, but we had some (to me) pretty extreme reactions that I had a hard time either understanding or attending to. Is there anyone out there who could tell me how to instill that sense of mental toughness that is required to wrestle at the state level? How do you instill that in a young man who may have only wrestled for a few months? I'm not sure how to do that. If anyone has any advice along these lines, I would very much like to hear it.

  9. #9

    Default Re: New to Coaching High School Wrestling

    i tell my kids that wrestling is not school, you don't fail a test and you never have a chance to retake it. wrestling is real life, you have opportunities to make it right. every match is a lesson and it is up to you to learn the lesson. you may lose to an opponent but as long as you give it everything you have and leave it all on the mat, you'll never regret what happens and neither will the coaches. I personally never lost to an opponent the same way much less twice, ever and that is b/c I took each lose as a time to learn as well as each win as a time to learn. Too many wrestlers don't make corrections when they win, teach them how to self correct on the fly and watch them excel at wrestling and school. my actual story is way more graphic and vulgar than what I am saying just trying to keep it G rated for the forum. if you think you can handle the actual story PM me and i'll give it to you.

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