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Galagore

What do we do about it?

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11 hours ago, PhillyFanMD said:

Training at a Club 365 a year is a MUST.

Gotta move to Indy and join Red Cobra or Evansville and join MCWC

Is a must for what? The training "365 a year" is a big downfall to this whole conversation. We've lost casual wrestlers because a combination of things.  But training every day of the year is going to drop retention rates terribly. 

Youth are getting burnt out from a youth season that starts in November and ends in March. But "if you want to be good you need to do Freestyle and Greco too." So now youth wrestling can be until May. It's no wonder that retention rate of athletes and coaches is so low. 

This isn't just wrestling, but the youth sports culture is so out of control that parents are pulled 100 different directions. It's easy to stop taking their child to wrestling when they have to travel for wrestling, baseball and basketball, etc...

 

At the high school level, we are asking our kids to train year round because we want them to be the best. But at smaller schools where those athletes do more than 1 sport they don't have time to train year round for 2 or 3 sports. I know coaches that get upset at athletes that aren't there all summer and spring, but if you want to know the truth, those part-time athletes are what is going to keep this sport competitive at semi-state and regional levels. We can't diminish their value because they aren't a state placer or aren't there every off-season practice. More participants will always help increase the competition level.  

Edited by ehscoach

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1 hour ago, ehscoach said:

Is a must for what? The training "365 a year" is a big downfall to this whole conversation. We've lost casual wrestlers because a combination of things.  But training every day of the year is going to drop retention rates terribly. 

Youth are getting burnt out from a youth season that starts in November and ends in March. But "if you want to be good you need to do Freestyle and Greco too." So now youth wrestling can be until May. It's no wonder that retention rate of athletes and coaches is so low. 

This isn't just wrestling, but the youth sports culture is so out of control that parents are pulled 100 different directions. It's easy to stop taking their child to wrestling when they have to travel for wrestling, baseball and basketball.

 

At the high school level, we are asking our kids to train year round because we want them to be the best. But at smaller schools where those athletes do more than 1 sport they don't have time to train year round for 2 or 3 sports. I know coaches that get upset at athletes that aren't there all summer and spring, but if you want to know the truth, those part-time athletes are what is going to keep this sport competitive at semi-state and regional levels. We can't tell them they aren't doing enough because they aren't a state placer. 

@PhillyFanMD is at it again..... lol! This dude is jacking with you guys. Hes a troll fellas. Save your breath. 

And 365 training is not for most, but a rare few have to do it. I was visiting my son this weekend parents weekend. The coach gave the kids the weekend off to hang with parents. With that said... we ended up in an empty wrestling room on Saturday and Sunday for work outs. Some kids just love it. Are we sposed to tell those kids not to do what they love to do everyday? Are we sposed to say.. "sorry kiddo I think you may get burnt out. So.. we are playing Xbox today." 

I do get what your saying, most kids will choose Xbox over practice, if you give them  a choice. But... you do have the one percent that want to be great. Gotta let it happen. And.. if a kids doesn't want to put in the work, we have to tell them  "being a semi-state qualifier is a great goal.. go get it kid." Just have to set realistic goals, for the amount of work that they are willing to put in. Just my opinion. 

As a youth and middle school coach, I tell all of my parents at our annual meeting to start the year: "If your kid wants to be a State Champ, we can help him do that! If your kid just wants to get faster and stronger to be a better lineman, we can help him with that too!" Its all about setting expectations and goals. So... to answer your question, here is what to do:

Communicate with kids and parents. Come up with goals, and tell them what it takes to reach those goals. Let them know that not reaching this goals is a possibility. And..... If they feel like walking away..... sit down with them and talk honestly on why you think they should stay. The successful coaches that I have been around do this. The unsuccessful coaches set no goals, and tell kids to kick rocks when the think about quitting. 

Edited by Mattyb

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I tried to get my son (8th grade) to play golf this summer like in the past but he would not do it. Wanted to keep focusing on wrestling.  I don’t want him to burn out, and thought it’d be good to mix it up as we have in years past, but he sees that freshman year coming up. 🤷‍♂️

 

As far as middle tier kids not being as high in numbers... my guess is that this phenomenon is happening in other sports as well with the rise of specialization. It may correct as parents who got burnt are having kids and won’t allow their kids to do it. 

 

But the ideas posted here before about about bringing more hype to duals and wrestling in general—lights, music, recognition in publications.  I think this is key to bringing new kids into the sport. Also, getting year-round kids to do some recruiting along with coaches. My son talked his friend into joining the team at school and my son wasn’t even on his team. This kid is now an 8th grader, gonna wrestle again this year and will probably wrestle in high school.  Seems like adding 1 or two kids to a program a year is not too lofty a goal, and the hype should help retain if implemented.   

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On 9/21/2019 at 3:38 PM, gsmith58 said:

How do you get more High School matches like Brownsburg and Avon? My son and I both love going because the atmosphere is similar to a high school basketball rivalry. Perry is similar. It's a lot of fun and it's something young kids enjoy particular when they know the wrestlers.

Duals are great and I am glad the IHSAA mandated six duals for teams. However there comes a caveat, it's GOOD duals, duals that are rivalries or meaningful go a long way to attracting casual fans. Not nearly as many people will go see Brownsburg vs. Danville or a school they will beat by 60+. The key with duals is make it special, we have said it before DJ's, make it a favorite teacher night, throw out t-shirts, etc. If it's cool to go to, more casual fans including students will show up.

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When I started coaching we had 20-30 kids on the team yearly. Recently we've seen 10-20. A couple of years ago I talked to some SR that wrestled in middle school and freshman year and asked them why they didn't stick with it. They all played football and they all pretty much said because there was no break between football and wrestling. Our football would start with 2 days in July and in most seasons would run into November when wrestling was already started and have to start competing with-in a week of first practice. Since we have started the process of moving the first meet back to after Thanksgiving but haven't quite seen the number increase. Other reasons given has ranged from hunting season, wanting to work more, and not wanting to give up Christmas breaks. With some of these kids it's just excuses they use for wrestling just being too tough for them but for some it seams the timing of the season isn't the best.

Edited by bbulldog152

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7 minutes ago, bbulldog152 said:

When I started coaching we had 20-30 kids on the team yearly. Recently we've seen 10-20. A couple of years ago I talked to some SR that wrestled in middle school and freshman year and asked them why they didn't stick with it. They all played football and they all pretty much said because there was no break between football and wrestling. Our football would start with 2 days in July and in most seasons would run into November when wrestling was already started and have to start competing with-in a week of first practice. Since we have started the process of moving the first meet back to after Thanksgiving but haven't quite seen the number increase. Other reasons given has ranged from hunting season, wanting to work more, and not wanting to give up Christmas breaks. With some of these kids it's just excuses they use for wrestling just being too tough for them but for some it seams the timing of the season isn't the best.

The short period between football and wrestling is not easy especially if it's a long grueling football season. I know one coach stated he lost a decent number of kids after their football team won state one year. Wrestlers going into track or baseball get a lot longer layoff between sports which helps them re energize for those seasons. 

I do agree with the timing of the season hurting, I would like to see it pushed back a couple weeks to let those kids not feel as rushed to jump into football. 

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9 minutes ago, Y2CJ41 said:

The short period between football and wrestling is not easy especially if it's a long grueling football season. I know one coach stated he lost a decent number of kids after their football team won state one year. Wrestlers going into track or baseball get a lot longer layoff between sports which helps them re energize for those seasons. 

I do agree with the timing of the season hurting, I would like to see it pushed back a couple weeks to let those kids not feel as rushed to jump into football. 

We experienced this one year when the football team won sectionals. we ended up with 1 senior and only 2 football players on the team. Which for us made our numbers go below 10. We knew we weren't going to have big numbers but we had at least 5 that seamed committed to be one the team with some even participating it summer workouts decided right as football ended they needed more time off and didn't come out for wrestling. Now almost our entire team is football players and the sudden decision to not come out would dwindle our numbers. Luckily some of our most committed wrestlers are our football players. But it's tough not knowing what your numbers are going to be until the season has already started and you're about to compete.

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This may seem dumb... but, put a decent sound system in the room and let the kids play their music during practice (no matter how bad you think it is). It’s a little thing, but I swear it will keep kids out.

 

Also... have a fellowship talk once a week. Give the kids a good story and / or share something that will inspire them. Let the kids chime in and share feelings. Knowing that others feel the same, and are going through the same things helps to grow a brotherhood. That bond keeps kids around. 
 

Anything to make kids actually enjoy being at practice.  

Edited by Mattyb

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1 hour ago, Mattyb said:

This may seem dumb... but, put a decent sound system in the room and let the kids play their music during practice (no matter how bad you think it is). It’s a little thing, but I swear it will keep kids out.

 

Also... have a fellowship talk once a week. Give the kids a good story and / or share something that will inspire them. Let the kids chime in and share feelings. Knowing that others feel the same, and are going through the same things helps to grow a brotherhood. That bond keeps kids around. 
 

Anything to make kids actually enjoy being at practice.  

AGREED

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On 9/23/2019 at 6:32 AM, gsmith58 said:

 

To the retention point it would seem to me  2 to 5 youth athletes a year could be doable. I can think of a couple things that might help. I've noticed in multiple setting (clubs, camps, rooms, academies, tourneys, duals) that the lesser kids don't get the attention that the more experienced and gifted kids get. Hardly insightful, but I think its important if were talking about a handful of kids. I am not saying they are being ignored and getting no attention. What I am saying is they and their parents need 'way more' encouragement and 'way more' attention than the better more experienced kids.

I know that is not natural in any sport, but I can't think of many sports that can be more difficult and "humiliating" for beginners and their parents. I can't tell you how many times I have had to talk first and second year (and sometime later) parents off the cliff during a tourney because some up and coming academy wizard took down, cut, took down, cut, etc, etc. their 11 year old beginner son. Its darn hard for everyone those first couple of years. That in itself does not encourage retention.

Totally agree with this post, and this is why I would like to see the wrestling community undergo a shift in mindset toward mat time at the youth level and away from crowning champions. Heck, you could even do pooled groups, wrestle round-robin, and still give the undefeated kid a medal at the end of the day...but allowing the struggling kids to wrestle other struggling kids is important for retention, growth, and learning of the sport overall. It is just as important as having the gifted kids wrestle other gifted kids...even if it's just one match out of the day.

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We keep getting these post about the competition. I think we are missing the real reason, that kids are not sticking with the sport. See my post above (about what to do to make kids like wrestling practices better). Look at the responses…. You have two current kids and a recent grad who is trying to help build a program at Ben Davis. We not losing kids because the year round kids are beating them . We are losing kids because they do not enjoy workouts, and feel as they don't other don't share the same feelings and experiences as they do. They are not coming together as a brotherhood. 

"Why get you teeth kicked in everyday at practice for no reason?!!!" That is what the kids that are walking away are saying. I'm just telling you. You want to keep kids??? Give them reason to show up and show out. 

As far as going two and out every weekend to start. My son went his whole first year and most of his second year before he won a match. He cared some, but liked the other kids at club and wanted to be with them. We didn't really care about the losses. He stuck with it and ended up with a pretty great career. And..... he beat most of the kids that beat him when he started, along the way. His best buddy started a year after he did and won just about every tourney (right out the gate).  He went on and was a 4 time state qualifier. With that said, different kids will take different paths. Both kids had highs and lows. But... they were always there for each other. That's a huge reason neither gave up. 

As far as being humiliated... why would you be humiliated from getting beat in a game or wrestling match. The fact that the kid went all out and will work to close the gap should be what we focus on (not trying to find someone easy to beat). Too much is being put on wins and loses. Not enough being focused on becoming a hard worker, good teammate, and baddass (win or lose). Yes.. badass. If a kid makes it through a wrestling season... They need to be told that they are a badass. 

Its OK to lose matches. Make it fun and surround the program with like minded positive people. That's how we stop it. 

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1 hour ago, Galagore said:

Totally agree with this post, and this is why I would like to see the wrestling community undergo a shift in mindset toward mat time at the youth level and away from crowning champions. Heck, you could even do pooled groups, wrestle round-robin, and still give the undefeated kid a medal at the end of the day...but allowing the struggling kids to wrestle other struggling kids is important for retention, growth, and learning of the sport overall. It is just as important as having the gifted kids wrestle other gifted kids...even if it's just one match out of the day.

 

Love the way some of the local Ohio tournaments divide their tournaments into experience for the younger kids.  Example is that they may run 1-2 year experience Pee-Wee - Novice from 8 am til 11 am and then run everyone else 12-4.  1st and 2nd year wrestlers may also wrestle in the experienced division if they so choose.

It is a very interesting concept.

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1 hour ago, Mattyb said:

As far as being humiliated... why would you be humiliated from getting beat in a game or wrestling match. The fact that the kid went all out and will work to close the gap should be what we focus on (not trying to find someone easy to beat). Too much is being put on wins and loses. Not enough being focused on becoming a hard worker, good teammate, and baddass (win or lose). Yes.. badass. If a kid makes it through a wrestling season... They need to be told that they are a badass. 

Its OK to lose matches. Make it fun and surround the program with like minded positive people. That's how we stop it. 

I agree with the majority of your post. But, I do, however, know from simple observation, anecdotal as it may be, kids and parents do get humiliated and upset. We've all seen blow-ups at youth tourneys; getting tossed around by another human being is a pretty personal thing. And, not every parent grew up as a wrestler or even an athlete; nor do they all have the "fight through it" mental model.

Having that life experience is good thing, and I am absolutely on point with you, but the gist here was about about retention and keeping them around so they learn that focus. I certainly know every kid has to go through it, all I am saying is when it happens they need more attention and awareness than the better or more experienced kids. And it doesn't always happen. And, retention in any context is built one person at a time.

As an example, we both watch and admire coach Red and his remarkable energy. That guy makes it a point to get around to every kid in that room every single day (and nearly every drill or go). Every one of them gets a personal conversation and a little of his "love." He's a great example of what I mean.

 

Edited by gsmith58

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Let's face it. Wrestling isn't fun when you truly try to take it seriously. If you push the serious part too fast then you lose the kid\athlete.  But... if you are not serious you get your butt kicked at any tournament you try to enter so it hard to find the balance. Wrestling is going against the way society in general is headed, it is up to us to sell it to kids and parents on the benefits of it and unfortunately it needs to be spoon fed in small doses over years until they fully buy in and understand. 

Sorry but going out and hitting a golf ball, kicking a soccer ball, or dribbling a basketball can just plain out be easy and fun for kids and adults if they want it to be.  Someone giving you a blast double or a good hard cross face while all you want to do is have fun usually doesn't go well with kids.  

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8 hours ago, Cosgrove said:

We coach and watch our wrestlers kick ass hoping to go onto the next level to wrestle in college and maybe a few go and try making the U.S. world team and Olympics :) Indiana wrestling has not gone down at all

If I don't get to jump into other threads and start on class wrestling, you don't get to come to this thread and make comments like this.

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On 9/23/2019 at 10:36 AM, Mattyb said:

This may seem dumb... but, put a decent sound system in the room and let the kids play their music during practice (no matter how bad you think it is). It’s a little thing, but I swear it will keep kids out.

 

Also... have a fellowship talk once a week. Give the kids a good story and / or share something that will inspire them. Let the kids chime in and share feelings. Knowing that others feel the same, and are going through the same things helps to grow a brotherhood. That bond keeps kids around. 
 

Anything to make kids actually enjoy being at practice.  

The Major Gen Leftenant concurs with this post.

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10 hours ago, Cosgrove said:

We coach and watch our wrestlers kick ass hoping to go onto the next level to wrestle in college and maybe a few go and try making the U.S. world team and Olympics :) Indiana wrestling has not gone down at all

The Major Gen Leftenant concurs with The Great Cos.

Edited by Leftenant Luers
syntax

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Here is what I also see from successful programs (in all sports) is the coaching from the bottom up approach. All programs are going to a few studs. The better programs have 10 or so studs. Guess what???... those are the easiest kids to coach. I see coaches coaching from the top down. Meaning... they spend the majority of time with their suds. Those kids are self motivated, and many times know more than their high school coaches. The successful coaches spend more time with their marginal kids and make them good. This not only builds depth, but makes those kids feel more important to the team. This results in retention, and the strengthening of the program. Show more love to the lesser kids. Let them know that they are a HUGE part of the program, and they are needed. That's another great way to keep kids around. 

Here is something that the vast majority can relate to:

As a youth football coach, I was lucky to have my teams in the "super bowl" every season. All teams have a fairly even draft. All teams have two or three studs. The daddy ball coaches spend the whole practice focusing on their own kids and letting junior and his best buddy run the ball in every practice and every game. The other kids "get" to stand on the line and block. That leads to kids hating youth football and angry parents. Where as the successful youth coaches convince the kids that line play is the most important part of the game (which it is). They also find something that each kid does well, and makes them feel that each kid is the very best at doing that particular thing. The daddy ball coaches just "hide" the weaker kids and focus on junior and the other studs. If a kid is not a striper, give them the rock once a game! Put your studs on the line for a play or two. Let them put their hand in the dirt and help get the "lesser" players a few yards. That approach leads to happy well rounded players and happy parents. Every kid will want to play the following year. The kids will play hard for each other and the wins will come.

I truly think that many of us can do a better job of developing our "lesser" wrestlers, and letting them know and feel how important that they are to the team. Let dem studs "put their hands in the dirt". Let them take a little time to build up the 2nd or 3rd tier guys.  By doing a better job of this (coaching from the bottom up) we will grow depth and keep kids out.

Oh.. by the way... Once the individual tourney starts.... go ahead and play daddy ball, with your best 14!!!! 

Edited by Mattyb

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3 hours ago, Mattyb said:

Here is what I also see from successful programs (in all sports) is the coaching from the bottom up approach. All programs are going to a few studs. The better programs have 10 or so studs. Guess what???... those are the easiest kids to coach. I see coaches coaching from the top down. Meaning... they spend the majority of time with their suds. Those kids are self motivated, and many times know more than their high school coaches. The successful coaches spend more time with their marginal kids and make them good. This not only builds depth, but makes those kids feel more important to the team. This results in retention, and the strengthening of the program. Show more love to the lesser kids. Let them know that they are a HUGE part of the program, and they are needed. That's another great way to keep kids around. 

Here is something that the vast majority can relate to:

As a youth football coach, I was lucky to have my teams in the "super bowl" every season. All teams have a fairly even draft. All teams have two or three studs. The daddy ball coaches spend the whole practice focusing on their own kids and letting junior and his best buddy run the ball in every practice and every game. The other kids "get" to stand on the line and block. That leads to kids hating youth football and angry parents. Where as the successful youth coaches convince the kids that line play is the most important part of the game (which it is). They also find something that each kid does well, and makes them feel that each kid is the very best at doing that particular thing. The daddy ball coaches just "hide" the weaker kids and focus on junior and the other studs. If a kid is not a striper, give them the rock once a game! Put your studs on the line for a play or two. Let them put their hand in the dirt and help get the "lesser" players a few yards. That approach leads to happy well rounded players and happy parents. Every kid will want to play the following year. The kids will play hard for each other and the wins will come.

I truly think that many of us can do a better job of developing our "lesser" wrestlers, and letting them know and feel how important that they are to the team. Let dem studs "put their hands in the dirt". Let them take a little time to build up the 2nd or 3rd tier guys.  By doing a better job of this (coaching from the bottom up) we will grow depth and keep kids out.

Oh.. by the way... Once the individual tourney starts.... go ahead and play daddy ball, with your best 14!!!! 

I 100% agree. This is something the coaching staff I’m apart of has been doing for the 3 years I’ve been there. We have kept pretty solid and steady numbers for a small 2a school. We had a kid last year as a state placer that wasn’t so good as a freshman and sophomore and had a decent junior year and by his senior year he only had two losses going into state. Granted it’s pretty rare for that to happen but It’s helped us tremendously because it’s giving those kids that aren’t so good as freshman and sophomores hope. If this kid can do that why can’t I? I think we were blessed with that situation and I understand that doesn’t happen at every school but it goes to show that coaches need to stick with those lower tier wrestlers and coach them up. If we want them to stick with the sport we need to give them reasons to stay. I had the chance to take our team to Disney this year and I don’t even know where to start with the benefits that it provided us. I didn’t have a roster of 14 studs but many of the kids were Jv guys. Give kids opportunities like this if possible! Something teenagers are really good at is talking. When they tell their friends that they got to go to Disney to wrestle it’s going to bring more guys out. I have heard that there are going to be numerous new guys in our room this year which excites me. 

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A couple ideas for youth programs

1. Get the parents together. Hold a cookout, or maybe during your youth practice have a coach take time to do a "parent clinic". Figure out who the most "likeable" parent is and ask them to be the ambassador for the other parents - do NOT pick the parent that wants to run everything but not many people like cause that will drive people away. The more the parents become friends, the more likely it is that their young wrestler will be back next season. If they enjoy spending time with each other, it's also more likely that one wrestler going to a weekend tourney in the spring will bring more along with them.

2. Early in the youth season get an inexpensive package of cool-looking clothes together and see if the parents will buy it or get sponsors to help cover costs where parents cant. When a little kid gets a "pro headgear" or "real wrestling shoes" they are now a real wrestler. If the tshirt you get them is super cool, it might be their favorite shirt they wear every other day to school and other kids see that stuff especially if a bunch of them are wearing them

3. Communicate! Let the parents know ahead of time what is coming up, what the kids are working on, etc. Seems like every other youth sport has practice on specific nights every week with a game on saturday. With youth wrestling, try to get with other clubs in your general area and set Monday, Thursday or whatever night as your "meet nights" where clubs can get together and do some round robin wrestling with no pressure just get a lot of matches against some new faces. Wednesday night is bad because that is youth night at many churches. Make those meet nights fun.  Don't know if its possible, but try to get the screaming parents away from the mat and into the stands as much as possible so its more of a kid-friendly environment

4. Stress to the kids that the focus is not on winning, but trying the moves that they have been working on. As a parent, it doesn't get much more frustrating to practice double legs all week long, only to get to a match and watch your wrestler dance around and never try a double leg! Reward them for trying moves, not just for winning. In football we used to give helmet sticker awards - not sure what could work for wrestling but try to have someone (maybe the kids parents) keep a tally on how many times they attempt a move even if it doesn't work, then make a big deal out of the counts at the next practice - maybe ask the kids really trying to talk about what they were thinking and if the moves worked for them or not

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3 hours ago, base said:

4. Stress to the kids that the focus is not on winning, but trying the moves that they have been working on. As a parent, it doesn't get much more frustrating to practice double legs all week long, only to get to a match and watch your wrestler dance around and never try a double leg! Reward them for trying moves, not just for winning. In football we used to give helmet sticker awards - not sure what could work for wrestling but try to have someone (maybe the kids parents) keep a tally on how many times they attempt a move even if it doesn't work, then make a big deal out of the counts at the next practice - maybe ask the kids really trying to talk about what they were thinking and if the moves worked for them or not

This one here is money. Especially the last couple sentences.

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9 hours ago, base said:

A couple ideas for youth programs

1. Get the parents together. Hold a cookout, or maybe during your youth practice have a coach take time to do a "parent clinic". Figure out who the most "likeable" parent is and ask them to be the ambassador for the other parents - do NOT pick the parent that wants to run everything but not many people like cause that will drive people away. The more the parents become friends, the more likely it is that their young wrestler will be back next season. If they enjoy spending time with each other, it's also more likely that one wrestler going to a weekend tourney in the spring will bring more along with them.

2. Early in the youth season get an inexpensive package of cool-looking clothes together and see if the parents will buy it or get sponsors to help cover costs where parents cant. When a little kid gets a "pro headgear" or "real wrestling shoes" they are now a real wrestler. If the tshirt you get them is super cool, it might be their favorite shirt they wear every other day to school and other kids see that stuff especially if a bunch of them are wearing them

3. Communicate! Let the parents know ahead of time what is coming up, what the kids are working on, etc. Seems like every other youth sport has practice on specific nights every week with a game on saturday. With youth wrestling, try to get with other clubs in your general area and set Monday, Thursday or whatever night as your "meet nights" where clubs can get together and do some round robin wrestling with no pressure just get a lot of matches against some new faces. Wednesday night is bad because that is youth night at many churches. Make those meet nights fun.  Don't know if its possible, but try to get the screaming parents away from the mat and into the stands as much as possible so its more of a kid-friendly environment

4. Stress to the kids that the focus is not on winning, but trying the moves that they have been working on. As a parent, it doesn't get much more frustrating to practice double legs all week long, only to get to a match and watch your wrestler dance around and never try a double leg! Reward them for trying moves, not just for winning. In football we used to give helmet sticker awards - not sure what could work for wrestling but try to have someone (maybe the kids parents) keep a tally on how many times they attempt a move even if it doesn't work, then make a big deal out of the counts at the next practice - maybe ask the kids really trying to talk about what they were thinking and if the moves worked for them or not

Super solid post. 

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