In a lot of high school wrestling programs, I notice the varsity squad gets a lot of mat time and the JV squad gets very little mat time.
Little league, junior high, and JV wrestlers are the future of any wrestling program.
Wrestling coaches need to figure out how to increase mat time for these wrestlers. Quality matches will prepare your kids for varsity when the time comes.
Getting maximum mat time should be part of the planning for any successful wrestling program. Today, I would like to talk about how to increase mat time for each and every wrestler.
Coaches Should Plan a Full JV Schedule
The best high school and college wrestling programs have developed plans to get every wrestler maximum mat time. This the reason that elite programs continually produce champions. If you look at programs like Oklahoma State, you will notice that the back up wrestlers are getting lots of mat time.
A good wrestling coach is one that has a plan in place to grow his varsity wrestlers AND his JV wrestlers. In fact, I would say the best high school coaches have put coaches in place that will develop his junior high and little league wrestlers.
In the town I live in, we are very fortunate to have a wrestling coach that does a great job of putting together a schedule that will build and improve his JV squad.
A wrestler needs to learn from mistakes to be successful. The best way to become successful is to get as much mat time as possible. A good wrestling coach should have a plan in place that will allow each kid to wrestle the maximum matches for a given state association.
Use Club Tournaments to get more Mat Time
JV wrestlers can use club tournaments to supplement mat time during the season. If done right, a wrestler can get some really good matches.
Club tournaments will require active involvement by the parents. Parents should schedule club tournaments around your wrestlers existing JV schedule.
Some good examples of tournaments to attend are local club tournaments, USJOC, Tulsa Nationals, Salina TOC, Park City Classic, Ohio TOC, etc. I’m sure that I’m leaving out some really tough tournaments, but you get the idea. The Ohio TOC has a decent list of quality tournaments to attend.
You can also attend some high school tournaments in the fall that won’t effect your kids eligibility. The super 32 tournament is a great example.
Encourage Summer Wrestling
in a previous article, I wrote about how summer wrestling makes winter champions. Wrestling coaches should make every effort to encourage his junior varsity wrestlers to wrestle freestyle and Greco during the spring and summer.
I’m a firm believer that kids who wrestle freestyle and greco are better prepared for the folk style wrestling season.
Furthermore, the benefits of summer wrestling extend beyond mere technical proficiency. Engaging in freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions during the offseason provides young wrestlers with a unique opportunity to refine their agility, flexibility, and creativity on the mat. These styles emphasize dynamic and unorthodox techniques, contributing to a wrestler’s adaptability and strategic thinking.
Summer wrestling lies not only in its technical advantages but also in its capacity to shape well-rounded, mentally tough athletes who approach the sport with passion and a holistic understanding of its demands.
How Many Matches is Adequate?
This is different for every wrestler. A kid that is winning at least half of their matches will wrestle more matches than a kid that goes two and out at every tournament.
I would recommend that every wrestler should wrestle at least 30 matches in a single season. This would include duals and tournaments. A serious wrestler that is improving should wrestle at least 50-60 matches in a single season.
Additionally, the number of matches a wrestler should aim for depends on their individual goals, skill level, and commitment to the sport. Wrestlers aspiring to reach higher levels of competition or seeking college scholarships may find it beneficial to exceed the recommended minimums.
Moreover, the diversity of opponents faced during these matches contributes significantly to a wrestler’s overall development. Engaging in a variety of matchups helps hone different techniques, adaptability, and strategic thinking on the mat.
It’s essential for wrestlers to strike a balance between quantity and quality, ensuring that each match is approached with a focus on continuous improvement. Coaches play a crucial role in guiding wrestlers to set realistic match goals, tailoring their match schedules to foster both physical and mental growth throughout the season.
Remember the Goal is to Grow the Wrestler
At the junior high and high school level, the goal is to improve and grow your wrestler. I know that some parents will disagree with me, but the goal of extra club tournaments should not be to get more trophies as the main reason for going to club tournaments.
I’ve seen a lot of wrestlers that didn’t win a lot of matches in little league or junior high. Once they hit high school they started to become much better. In each case the wrestlers that improved were the ones that wrestled as many matches as they could every year.
Parents and coaches should emphasize the long-term benefits of wrestling, emphasizing that the lessons learned and skills acquired extend well beyond the immediate results of any single tournament. The true measure of success lies in the continuous pursuit of improvement, resilience in the face of challenges, and the development of a well-rounded athlete both on and off the wrestling mat. By keeping the focus on nurturing the wrestler’s growth, the journey becomes more rewarding and fulfilling, laying the foundation for success in the future.
Wrestling Program Only as Good as its Leader
A Lack of planning by wrestling programs will lead to a lack of success. A wrestling coach can be the person that impacts wrestlers or the person that drives wrestlers away from this great sport.
A coach needs to remember that a kid is in his program because he/she wants to wrestle. A wrestler does not join a program to simply go to practice. Every wrestlers who joins a wrestling program, should have the expectation of improving as a wrestler and contributing to a championship program.
A head wrestling coach is a leader and needs to show good leadership by making sure that each an every wrestler is getting adequate mat time. I have great respect for wrestling coaches, but to not have a plan to grow your JV wrestlers is foolish.
I trust you found the article about increasing mat time for junior varsity wrestlers enjoyable. Exploring strategies to maximize their time on the mat can significantly contribute to their skill development and overall growth in the sport. Feel free to reach out if you have any further questions or if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss.
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