If you are a youth wrestling coach, then you are in charge of impressionable minds. This is a large responsibility, it’s not just simply turning up to practice and going through the motions. Youth wrestling coaches are responsible for fledgling athletes and these kids require effective attention, instruction, co-ordination and organization if they are to carry on with the sport into their teens and adult life.
Youth wrestling coaches are the cornerstone of the sport of wrestling. They develop young minds and bodies into practitioners of the ‘sport of the gods’ and with this in mind, coaches need to be impartial, supportive mentors that guide the kids and work with them individually to strengthen their weaknesses.
So let’s take a look at some common mistakes that youth coaches may make and how to correct them. If you take a step back from your ego, analyse your coaching behaviour with an honest eye and find that you are making any of these errors, then it’s time to take action and fix it while you can.
Without a doubt, the number one area that too many coaches fall into, is thinking negatively. It’s all too easy to get in a bad mood and let it drag you down during the day and then bring that attitude with you into the wrestling room. Kids are incredibly sensitive to adult’s states of mind and presence and if they sense a bad vibration coming from you, it will affect their performance and attitudes as well.
It all starts with a clear mindset, if you are a person that intuitively thinks of life negatively, then you have a lot of work to do. A positive, vibrating personality and mindset is a critical aspect of every great coach, in any sport, that as ever lived and you should be no different.
If you find yourself getting ready for practice and you are awash with negative emotion, take some time to relax and gather your thoughts. Visualise a good practice and the feeling of accomplishment you receive from seeing the kids execute the techniques correctly while you actively encourage them with positive re-enforcement.
This technique is simple and takes less than five minutes to perform, so there is no excuse for not being able to find the time to carry it out, besides, the benefit from doing the exercise should perk you up and get you re-focused on the task at hand.
Mentally track your comments that you make to the kids and if you find them to be more negative than positive, then make special note to be aware of every word that comes out of your mouth at a practice session and reduce any negative comments that you may have the urge to spew.
Remember to make contact with the kids, high five and fist pump your way into their hearts and minds with a little human contact. Research has shown that interaction with kids, especially when rewarding them, helps them to imprint the feelings of achievement, making them want to impress you further to receive further admiration. So make sure to keep your physical involvement up, a pat on the head and an encouraging word will go a long way to making your team work harder for you and stay committed to their individual and team goals.
If you find yourself frustrated with certain individuals, remember what it was like to be in their shoes back in your formative years on the mats. Remember the excitement and dedication you had and bring that back to where you are today. If you struggle with certain individuals, ask yourself; if it was you back in the day would you want your coach to help you and encourage you, or bring you down and give up on you. Simple answer, never give up on anyone. Ever.
Remember to keep practices fun. Kids are kids and they want to have fun, so by keeping your practice sessions focused on having fun, while learning valuable technique, then everyone wins. Old wrestling drills like ‘catch the tail’, are great to keep the training atmosphere alive and enthusiastic. If you find yourself mindlessly going through drills and being robotic with your instruction, then it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
This grand sport can be a whole heap of fun but only if YOU want it that way and make it happen. At the end of the day, the line is drawn between a good and bad youth wrestling program by the coach, not the wrestlers. So make sure that you stay accountable to yourself and your team and follow the guidelines above to make sure your team gets the best value out of every training session this season!