Men Coaching Women

femalewrestlerTeam USA‘s website has a really good article about coaching female wrestlers.

When I coached youth wrestling, I was always uncomfortable about coaching girls. Wrestling is a very physical sport and when you coach you can’t help but be in close bodily contact with your wrestlers when demonstrating moves or helping them perfect a move.

With today’s litigious environment, I suspect many male coaches are leery of coaching girls. Of course, sexual harassment claims, real and not, are made in all types of sports. Here in Northern Virginia it seems every other year you hear of a swimming coach who has been accused of inappropriate contact with his athletes.

According to the Team USA article, “the number of girls who wrestled in high school grew from 804 in 1994 to over 11,496 in 2015. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington all sponsor a girls state high school championship and over 30 colleges now have a women’s varsity wrestling program.”

And while there are more women coaching girls, coaching at the youth wrestling level is still done mostly by men. No matter their gender, wrestling coaches do what they do because they love the sport, says Terry Steiner, head coach of the U.S. Women’s national wrestling team. The challenge and reward of teaching life lessons is what drives them—whether coaching boys or girls, men or women. “Their goal is to help move human beings forward and make a difference,” Steiner says. “Wrestling is wrestling and sport is sport.”

Nevertheless, Steiner, who was an assistant coach for Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin from 1994-2002, acknowledges that he went through an adjustment period the first time he coached female athletes. “I remember that first practice,” he recalls. “Here I am, someone who has been involved in wrestling my whole life, and I wasn’t sure how to approach certain things,” like how to demonstrate certain moves with a female wrestler. But Steiner quickly realized was that these concerns were issues he, as the coach,had to figure out, not the female wrestlers.

Read the whole thing here.

As women’s participation in the sport of wrestling grows, perhaps we’ll reach a point where we can have all female teams and leagues, complete with female coaches and refs.

Wrestlers in Business Network


Wrestlers in Business Network is an interesting group that advocates on behalf of wrestling in schools, colleges and universities, as well as providing a network for former wrestlers looking to advance in their professional careers.

The group’s website says:

Wrestlers in Business is a non-profit organization that strives to unite the thousands of wrestlers that have retired from the sport and are now in their respective careers.

It started as a networking group on LinkedIn. Since then, the group has evolved into a more prominent, member-focused organization that cares about supporting current & former wrestlers and the sport.

On March 20 to 22, the group is hosting University Freestyle and Greco Duals and Career Day.

The WIBN Washington D.C. Chapter, along with the U.S. Naval Academy, American University, University of Maryland and George Mason University are hosting the University Freestyle and Greco Duals and Career Day at the GMU Field House in Fairfax, Virginia on May 20 – May 22, 2016.

This one-of-a-kind event, supported by USA Wrestling, is a dual meet format and will give participating teams the opportunity to get five or more matches prior to the Nationals held in June.

The event, which will be live streamed, will provide a unique opportunity for student-athletes to participate in a Career Day, meeting with business leaders seeking future employment and intern opportunities. Local and nationwide corporations will participate on Friday, May 20 to meet with the wrestlers and discuss possible opportunities. Wrestlers will also have the opportunity to take part in a follow up career counseling session. On Saturday, May 21, coaches and businesses will enjoy a Business Social. This event is the first of its kind and has all the unique properties that one comes to expect from the Wrestlers in Business Network, as our mission is to support each other’s career aspirations.

WINB has chapters all over the U.S., including right here in the Washington, D.C., area.  The D.C. chapter was “organized with the objective of mobilizing the wrestling community for business, social, and personal purposes. Our goal is to have our members network and prosper together while positioning ourselves as an advocate for wrestling at all levels with in the Greater Washington Region.”

Matside Coaching Practices

matsidecoachingFor you guys who coach youth or high school wrestling, USA Wrestling had an article on the “Six Best Practices for Matside Coaching.”

The last point about staying positive can be a challenge in the heat of a match.  “Words should always encourage, be positive and instructive,” says Tom Kuisle, Mat Officials Director for Minnesota USA Wrestling. “Scolding and reprimanding when the athlete is working hard will flip the listening switch to the off position.”

The other points are also worth considering.

1. Best coaching happens in practice

The best wrestling coaches do their best coaching during practice, in the practice room. Not matside during the heat of a match.

“Practice is for developing strategy, skills, and planning efficient communication between coaches and athletes,” says Mike Clayton, Director of the National Coaches Education Program for USA Wrestling. “Matches are good for testing the practice philosophy, not for teaching new skills.”

Clayton helped create this Corner Coaching Tips & Strategy document for USA Wrestling.

2. Know your athlete’s limits

Competition is not the time to ask or instruct wrestlers to try something new that they haven’t practiced, notes Clayton. “If I haven’t taught it to a wrestler before the match, it’s almost certain the athlete won’t learn it in the six minutes of a competition,” he says.

However, there are situations—like a gym with a loud, boisterous crowd—where the coach must raise their voice to be heard, says August Manz, a coach with the COBRA Optimists Wrestling Club of Council Bluffs (IA). But coaches should remember that even though they are raising their voice, the wrestler may not be able to hear or acknowledge it—so don’t just yell louder. Voice, body language, and facial expressions all make an impact.

3. One athlete competing = one coach talking

At many youth tournaments, it’s not uncommon for coaches, teammates, and family members to stand in the corner of their wrestler. While many do so for moral support, too many voices can become a major distraction, says Tom Kuisle, Mat Officials Director for Minnesota USA Wrestling and the 2012 USA Wrestling Officials Association Official of the Year

“Assign one coach to speak and talk from the corner,” says Kuisle. “If there is a second coach, that coach should offer advice through the assigned coach. That way, when the athlete hears that familiar voice he or she knows it is meant for them. They don’t have to spend the mental focus needed to deal with their opponent filtering out all the other noise to find the voice of the coach.”

4. To help your wrestler keep his or her composure, keep yours too

Manz points out that many kids are nervous when they step out on the mat, especially those not used to competing in front of a crowd. So, coaches who remain calm and in control will help the wrestler follow suit.

“If you have a child in an environment and their coach or parent is sitting in their corner yelling at them or pounding on the mat to do a certain move, what kind of emotions will the child be feeling?” Manz explains. “The answer is scared or intimidated.”

5. Working the refs doesn’t work

Coaches need to focus on coaching the athlete, not the official.

“When a coach is talking to or at the referee, the athlete is missing the assistance that they may need,” Kuisle says. “Yelling complaints like ‘What’s the other guy doing?’ Or ‘Call it both ways!’ won’t change the call and instead leaves you offering nothing to the athlete as a coach.

What’s more, Clayton notes that there is a shortage of wrestling officials in our country and one reason is that because officials often get yelled at or worse. “Let the official off the hook, and if a call doesn’t go your way, get used to it. It won’t always go your way.”

Instead, use that experience as a teachable moment. Remind your athlete that referees are human. Occasionally, the calls they will make won’t seem fair. “This will allow your athlete to start building resiliency,” says Clayton. “This will serve them well as their matches start to mean more.”

6. Stay focused and positive

Kuisle says the best matside coaches develop a coaching vocabulary that is tailored to each individual wrestler. These have been discussed and put in place at practice, well before competition takes place. These key words or hand signals can relay short precise instructions that help the athlete focus on the match. “Words should always encourage, be positive and instructive,” says Kuisle. “Scolding and reprimanding when the athlete is working hard will flip the listening switch to the off position.”

Wrestling Moves Demonstrated


While Previewroaming around the Internet this morning, I came across The Wrestling Site, which offers a variety of videos illustrating basic wrestling moves.

The site is produced by Les Anderson, “The Champions Coach,” and features videos on basic technique as well as one demonstrating neutral, defensive and offensive wrestling moves.

Unfortunately, you only get to see a short preview of each clip. Viewing the videos costs $0.99 per video, downloading them costs $1.99, and there is an option for a $9.99 per month subscription.

Other than that, it looks like a great site to see wrestling moves demonstrated.


Conditioning Drills

Wrestling is an intense sport that taxes the mind, body and spirit.

In addition to practicing individual moves and live wrestling with a partner, condition drills are essential to build up endurance for a match.

That National Federation of State High School Associations has a nice run down of conditioning drills.

The Double Leg – This carry involves having a partner face you and then lifting him up by his upper legs and then draping him over a shoulder. He is then carried to the opposite end and set down on his feet again. Then after jogging back to the starting point, he does the same thing to you. This is the case for each of the five total body carries.
The Fireman’s Carry – This carry is also very specific to wrestlers because it involves the technique of a popular wrestling move, the fireman’s carry. One wrestler grips his partner’s tricep and then puts his partner on his back while putting his other arm through the partner’s legs so that partner can hang behind the carrier’s neck on his upper back.
The Piggy Back Ride – This carry simply involves having one wrestler hop on the back of the other. The rider can lock his hands loosely around the carrier’s neck while the carriers can reach back and hold his legs.
The Bridal Carry – This carry is a reference to a groom carrying a bride over the threshold. The rider locks his hands behind the carrier’s neck and then hops in his arms.
The Wheelbarrow – Another classic carry where one wrestler holds his partner’s legs at the knees while the other uses his hands to “walk” to the other end.

Read the whole article for more drills.

Wrestling for Grownups