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Discussion Topic: General Health of Wrestling in Ohio
Ethan Moore added to this discussion on March 24, 2017

Hank - I struggle with this in regards to my sons.

We live in the W. Chicago burbs. Within 20 miles of my house is OPRF, Montini Catholic, Marmion Academy, Mt. Carmel, Lockport, and several other programs that are relevant nationally.

My sons wrestle at the club for our HS, they are still young. They like the sport, but they play every other sport because I believe it's healthy.

The youth programs around here are incredibly serious. They wrestle every weekend. I personally don't want to do this for a number of reasons. One is I don't want my boys to get burnt out, to your point above. Second, I personally don't want to be sitting in a crowded HS gym for 5 hours every Sunday. It's not how I want to spend my weekends. Finally, the culture of youth wrestling is not attractive to me. Dozens of parents crowded around the mats screaming at their kids - I don't like it.

The rub is, however, if you don't compete often when you DO compete, you're likely to lose, causing kids to not want to continue.

As a son of a wrestling coach, it's something I struggle with as a father. Nothing more intense than youth wrestling.

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Discussion Topic: General Health of Wrestling in Ohio
Jim Behrens added to this discussion on March 24, 2017

I wrote about this on another site but will make it much shorter here.
I have officiated a few youth events (not because I am above them but because I am OLD) and while the majority of parents are fine, there are a select few fathers/coaches who are WAY over the top.
If they act this way in public, I probably don't want to know what they are like at home.
For God's sake, make it FUN!!!

I watch as the numbers drop at each level to the point where there might be 100 kids in youth program and the HS is lucky to get 10 of them.
I tend to agree with Coach Andrews in that we see the old 3 sports athlete going elsewhere. After all, he might be pretty good but (in his own mind) he will never beat wrestler A from school S, so why try?

Looking at his final question, from where I am, I think it is more that the rest have diminished. The top guys are VERY, VERY good. This leads to the belief that the sport is healthy and I simply don't see it. Actually at our meeting on Tuesday one very esteemed coach (a HoF guy) came out and said that he thinks that things might be beyond hope. I would like to think he is wrong but I am not so sure.

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Discussion Topic: General Health of Wrestling in Ohio
Matt Schein added to this discussion on March 24, 2017

the sport now at the high school level is very top heavy. at the top you have kids that are incredible with their technique and every other facet of the sport, these kids are so far more advanced than kids 20-30 years ago. the reason for the advancement are the elite clubs, and youth wrestling clubs in general. on the other side of that you have high school teams that struggle to field a full team, often just to be considered a team. I feel this is due to the youth clubs. way back when you had kids that take the sport up in the seventh grade and compete just fine, those days are gone. now a kid in the seventh grade that has never wrestled before probably never wrestle because he sees these kids who have been wrestling since they were five and feels there is no way he/she could compete with these kids. the view of a lot of these kids is to wrestle you have to start very young, if not you wont be able to do it. it's a double edged sword.

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Discussion Topic: General Health of Wrestling in Ohio
Bruce Andrews added to this discussion on March 24, 2017

Quote from Matt Schein's post:

"...the view of a lot of these kids is to wrestle you have to start very young, if not you wont be able to do it."

I think there is actually some truth in that view. Sports specialization starts very early. I find that the kids who get started late are picking "alternative" sports, which have lower participation than the major sports and hence the kid has a greater chance of succeeding. For example, I couldn't get my son interested in any mainstream sport and all he wanted to do was play video games. Finally, he has decided to pick up the rather esoteric sport of fencing. At least it gets him away from the computer screen for a period of time.

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Discussion Topic: General Health of Wrestling in Ohio
Nicholas Sestito added to this discussion on March 25, 2017

I feel like this is an issue that should and could be addressed with data. Treat this like an improvement project a business or organization would enact, perhaps using DMAIC, Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control.

1.) Define - What is the general health of wrestling in Ohio? The gist I picked up from is both good and bad.

This is a pretty broad topic, but from the posts I feel like this is coming down to two general themes: Participation and Competitiveness. Both of these can be assessed through various metrics that can be measured.

At the end of the day, until we actually start measuring these things, it's all "gut feelings" about the health of the sport without any actual data to substantiate the growth, plateau, or degradation of Ohio wrestling.

Participation - This could be measured through total wrestlers, % of eligible students that are wrestlers, % of weight forfeitures, wrestlers advancing to next level (Youth to Jr. High, Jr. High to High School, High School to College, etc.), participation in out-of-state events, % participating in wrestling outside of season (Freestyle/Greco, Folkstyle circuit, etc.).

Competitiveness - This could be measured through national team and individual rankings (AWN/InterMat/Flo), parity among programs (% of placers from different schools), placers/champions at large tournaments (Ironman/Beast/Fargo), All-Americans/Champions at the college level, dual record of Ohio teams vs. Other States' teams.

These metrics should be determined by the people best placed to judge them as being valuable to monitor, which leads to the people involved...

In these sorts of projects, there needs to be people involved that can do the data gathering, analyze it, enact projects to improve the various metrics being monitored, and so on... This would be influential wrestling coaches (youth, high school, college, club), administrators, journalists, and higher-ups in wrestling associations relating to Ohio wrestling. These people should have the power to influence in order to make gains.

2.) Measure - First thing's first, get a baseline for the metrics being measured. If it isn't being measured now, measure it; if there is way to measure past year's results, measure it.

Setting goals for the various metrics based on what the baseline is, perhaps measure other state's numbers to better place the goal.

3.) Analyze - What are driving these metrics which contribute to the "General Health of Wrestling in Ohio"?

Quote from Bob Preusse's post:

Why Many Youth Drop Out
Dave Caslow addresses another problem, “It is well documented that seventy percent of youth wrestlers drop out by the time they reach the age of twelve. If the wrestling community desires to reverse this trend, it must design youth wrestling programs and events in favor of athletes with average readiness. Far too many kids are not yet ready for the intense training and competitive experiences that overzealous parents and coaches are currently promoting. Low intensity programs for beginners should be designed to emphasize basic skills and play. The primary goal of youth wrestling should be to win kids hearts and keep them wrestling!”

“All wrestlers need to avoid excessive weight loss! Even kids who are ready for competitive wrestling have had their attitudes destroyed by excessive weight loss. Attempting to make weight can create misery, while the failure to make weight results in embarrassment. Youth wrestlers are not regulated by the Optimal Performance Calculator and should be restrained from losing any significant amount of weight!” "

This could tie into the % of wrestlers advancing to the next level metric. How would this be analyzed? For the wrestlers that do drop off the map, perhaps they'd fill out a survey documenting what drove them to leave wrestling. Observe programs with high retention rates of wrestlers and learn what they're doing and see if it can be adapted.

As far as performance, what are the dominant programs like St. Paris Graham, St. Eds, Elyria, etc. doing to make them so prominent on the national scene? Is it shear tradition? Is it the feeder programs? Is it the leadership in the program and support from the community?

4.) Improve - Once you've dug into what can be done to improve the various metrics for participation and competitiveness, start implementing some changes. Nothing changes in a year and large scale support/funding isn't universal across the state, so identify "easy" items that can be improved and do it.

Perhaps, it's changing the types of drilling that's done to improve technique for your wrestlers to make them competitive or change the structure of practices to make it more friendly for.

On a larger scale, maybe it's getting the Ohio RTC to do some camps around the state to promote Freestyle/Greco to diversify the skill sets of wrestlers. Maybe this already happens, I don't know, I'm not that clued in since I don't wrestle.

5.) Control - Evaluate the improvements that have been implemented. Are the "improvements" actually driving the metrics to their goal? If so, sustain them or if not, go right back to the Measure-Improve steps.

Larger scale...participation in the lower weights could be greater...maybe a re-adjustment of the weight classes that favors the weight classes is the way to go (More of a national issue, but maybe it starts with Ohio pushing for it). A push to bring in talented coaches to further firm up the talent and skill of Ohio wrestlers.

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