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What Does It Take to Be A Successful Wrestling Coach?

Posted by Jeffrey Pape on


Definition of Success

With some of the top Division I Wrestling Coaches positions up for grabs this off season, I have been reading about this person is a "marketing guy" or this person is a "technique guy" and it got me thinking...

What does it take to be a successful wrestling coach?

Before we get into what does it take, I think we need to first define what "successful" is. I am a licensed CPA in Illinois and I have to take Continuing Professional Education year. This year is a renewal year for my license so I need to make sure I have 120 hours of qualifying education in the past 3 years. One of the online courses I took yesterday covered non profit board member duties. 

And one of the topics talked about aligning with the non-profit's mission. I think this is a huge first step in figuring out what it takes to be a successful coach, you need to know whomever you need to answer to, how they define a successful coach or what their mission is. What metrics are they going to look at to see if it was a good year or a bad year. 

And the person you answer to might be parents or boosters or even your boss if you do this for a living. After all, if parents don't think you are doing a good job with their wrestlers, they will simply vote with their feet and leave to go to another program. And while it may not be possible to keep every wrestler on your team, if you do this for a living, you better make sure your boss agrees you are doing a good job. You don't want to find out in the exit interview that you were being held to different measures of success.

Ways to be a success

  • Keep the program eligible
  • Recruit X number of wrestlers to the team
  • Retain a certain number of wrestlers for next year's team
  • Number of NCAA Qualifiers (or State Qualifiers)
  • Number of Placers or Champions
  • Fundraising goal
  • Revenue goal
  • Keeping costs within budget
  • Attendance figures
  • Fill a full line up
  • Develop new wrestlers
  • Have X number of wrestlers exceed expectations
  • Exceeding prior years statistics on A,B,C
  • Graduation rate
  • APR if collegiate program
  • Academic awards

How To Be A Success

I remember when I coached youth wrestling starting right after graduating college at 21 years old and just being happy to keep my club open. The previous coaches' kids had graduated 8th grade and the team was left with no coaches. I decided to give it a go and the first year was a success just for keeping the lights on and keeping the club going. 

As I was able to keep the lights on so to say, I began looking to improve how we did things. I remember one conversation I had with Jose Martinez. If you are from Illinois, you know this name. I asked him about how he was able to do what he does and his answer was something like, all I have to do is coach. I have other parents help me with everything else. 

That conversation sticks out in my mind even some 20 years later as something that you can use to run your team. You need to put people in positions that they can succeed and help you run your wrestling team. You can not do it all. You need to put the right people in the right positions to build your wrestling team.

No matter how big your wrestling team is, chances are you need to worry about these tasks and make sure someone is taking care of them.

Tasks You Need to Worry About

  • Marketing
  • Recruiting
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Technique
  • Practice planning
  • Practice running
  • Uniforms and swag
  • Public relations
  • Alumni relations
  • Fundraising
  • Logistics
  • Website
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Learning new business skills
  • Learning new wrestling skills

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