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Ten Tips (strategies) for New High School Head Coaches

10/03/2019, 12:45pm CDT
By Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

NWCA: The CoachINg You Blog

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Ten Tips (strategies) for New High School Head Coaches

  by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD 

      Yogi Berra once quipped that “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.”  Much can be said for the new head coach in that he must create a clear direction for the new program or he might end up without a job.  Borrowing from a business model the new head coach should “plan the work” and then “work the plan.” 
     Any coaching education model instructs a coach to develop a coherent personal and program philosophy with clearly defined goals and objectives (1).  Hopefully the underpinning wellspring of any transformative coaching philosophy is the American Sport Education Program’s “athlete first-winning second” perspective (2).   Beyond that, here are ten tips/strategies the new head wrestling coach might find useful to work into the program plan:
  1. Write personal and program philosophy stating a clear vision for the wrestling program.
  2. Develop program goals and objectives based on the coaching philosophy.
  3. Locate and hire qualified personnel that subscribe to the head coaches philosophy to act as assistant coaches for all levels (youth, middle school, and varsity).
  4. Organize a series of staff meetings to develop the team’s tactical/technical focus (i.e., system) and a periodization (peaking) schedule for all levels of the program.
  5. Work with the athletic director to develop a competitive schedule and a design a plan for program evaluation.
  6. Create a positive relationship with building and grounds and custodial personnel (as they are the entity that is really in charge).
  7. Meet with football coaches to share the benefits of wrestling technique and practice on student-athletes’ football skills.
  8. Develop team rules (keep them brief and simple), an athlete code of conduct, and operating policies (for practice, travel, and competition).
  9. Develop a risk management plan to deal with injuries in practice and/or during team travel/competition.
  10. Conduct a booster meeting to share program philosophy and provide expectations of parents and boosters.
The NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual (Scholastic Edition) offers some additional tips for head coaches. 
 “Find a way and make it happen”….dj
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Scholastic Program Wrestling Coaches: 
Ten Tips (strategies) for New High School Head Coaches
Dennis A. Johnson, EdD
Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
Former Wrestling Coach &
Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind

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1. Johnson, D.A.  (2004).  Wrestling drills for the mat and mind.  Ithaca NY: Momentum Media Publishing.

2. Martens, R.  (2012).  Successful coaching:  America’s best-selling coach’s guide (fourth edition). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.



Scholastic Resource Manual: Coach as the Leader, Organizing and evaluating your coaching staff, Educationally based athletics, Recruiting and motivating wrestlers, Public and community relations, Working with parents, Facilities and equipment, Practice plans, Developing feeder wrestling programs, Booster clubs/fundraising, and Off season training.
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