A coach's perspective on coaching from the stands

Posted by John Klessinger on Jan 16, 2020 5:52:47 AM



I have been a high school wrestling coach for the past 21 years. I have coached youth lacrosse, soccer, and wrestling when my kids were young. This is not a bash on parents. I am a parent as well. It is only a justification from a coach's standpoint on why it makes the "coach's" job more difficult when parents are coaching their kids from the sidelines.

I am a parent of two kids, who are highly involved in sports. I sit at many games watching from the stands. I, on occasion, get excited and yell instructions to my own kids when they are playing. For the most part, though, I only yell encouragement and the ever so often rant to one of my children to "run" … "fight for the ball" … or "hustle." Really, that's about all I can offer to them when they are playing. I haven't played lacrosse, field hockey, or soccer. There is not much I can say to them outside of the encouraging them to be more aggressive or play with more intensity. I am not knowledgeable enough about the finer details of the game to accurately provide coaching in their sports. Truly, my goal for my kids is for them to play hard and work hard in practice and in the games. I know those two skills alone are transferable to most other areas of life; and if they do those things, most likely their skill in the sport will be adequate -- if not excellent -- with time and experience and they will be successful.

As a wrestling coach with approximately 40 kids each year, it can be challenging to hear contradictory instructions and coaching from parents. Our program has a specific system in place to not only teach wrestling but also accountability, discipline, and a strong work ethic. We spend many hours developing our system in practice. We fine tune our system each practice. Each day we have a plan in place for what we want to accomplish. It's rarely, if ever, "winged" or made up on the fly. From 2:30-2:40 p.m., we warm-up with sport related activities. From 2:40-3:00, we work on conditioning. From 3-3:20, we work on technique A and how to effectively execute it in various situations. At 3:20, we work on combining technique A with previous taught techniques of B,C,D, and E. At 3:45, we set up match situations to practice techniques A-E in a "live" setting with an opponent actively trying to resist. I think you get the point, but this is how most practices are run at the high school level and beyond. There is a logical plan in place to teach our kids "the game" with the end-goal being to win and be successful.

When game time, or match time, rolls around, we have spent hours to prepare for the contest. That doesn't mean we are 100% ready but we try to be to the best of our ability. We begin the game and a funny thing happens. Our opponent also has a plan. They evidently didn't get the memo that we have a system to run and their plan is negatively affecting our performance. Obviously this is sarcasm, but that's the reality. That is sport. Two teams competing to win. Things usually do not go exactly as planned. For that matter, there is no perfect plan. Coaches put out their game plan and try to execute it as efficiently as possible with the expectation that mostly likely it will need adjusted throughout the contest. These plans are unbiased. They are not personal in nature towards any player. They are developed with the available personnel in mind to best win the game. These plans can change game to game or match to match depending on the opponent. When our players hear information from the stands that is different from ours, it makes us nervous. The information is not part of the system that we have practiced diligently for many hours. The information is contradicting the time we spent with our players to prepare them for this event. So our preparation, strategy, and plan is highly compromised in a game when our players are hearing different messages contrary from what they've heard in practice. It creates confusion to the players and undermines the trust that is created between the players and coaches in practice. Furthermore, throw in a loud crowd, the weather, fatigue, and the general anxiety of a game, often times a player's performance is hindered, not helped.

In a previous blog post on toughness, I referenced our love for our child that sometimes impedes their maturity and development of grit. I believe what we say to our kids during the game isn't any different. We want them to be successful. Our vision is clouded with our own biases. We see things differently when our interest goes well beyond an athletic contest. Our kids will be our kids forever. The game might be two hours long but after it is over we leave and go eat dinner as a family. You will always be their dad or mom who loves them and wants them to be successful regardless of the number of goals scored or the minutes played.

From a coach's perspective, we want as few distractions as possible. We want to execute the plan we have in place. The plan that we practiced day after day. The technique that we drilled all week leading up to the contest. We want our team focused on the task at hand. If adjustments are needed, we will see it and make them accordingly. Hopefully not too late. We see the whole team. Not just one player.

When I watch my daughter play, I see her a lot more than the other players. My focus is mostly on her. I see everything she is doing almost as if I am looking at her under a microscope. "Why did she do that?" "Wow, she just got hit hard." "That was a good shot!" Then my son. "Why isn't he running hard!?" " He just shot from too far away!" "Catch that kid!" It's almost like no other player exists. You almost forget that it's a team sport because you follow your child around the field analyzing every move and turn.

When I am coaching my team, I see 40 players and I am concerned about each of them learning our system for us to be a successful team. I am monitoring many different personalities and attitudes. John needs pushed harder. I need to lighten up on Jacob. Tim needs more work with his shot. Jeff's defense is great, but his top work is struggling. Why can't Billy get out on bottom!!!!???? Can someone tell Brian that we are wrestling a match and to get ready!?

None of it … I mean none of it, is personal. The question always is, what do we need to do to get better? If I ride a kid, it is only because I felt he could have done better and is capable of more. A coach has a vested interest as well. Let's not misinterpret when coaches are tough on players. It's for them. It's for the team. It is not for any other reason. As a parent, I would be more concerned about why the coach isn't pushing my kid to be better. What is my child doing to not get pushed? Is he being a bad teammate? Does he have a bad attitude? Does he not listen to feedback? Is he not coachable?

Food for thought.

John Klessinger is a physical education teacher, high school wrestling coach, and fitness trainer. He has been a public high school teacher and wrestling coach for the past 21 years. John has worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and group fitness instructor for the past fifteen years. To read John's blog, visit https://coachkless.com or visit his Facebook page. He also has an eBook titled "Strong Mind Strong Body: A 21-Day Personal Development And Fitness Guide To Live Your Best Life" that can be purchased on Amazon.

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Topics: Coaching

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 45: A.J. Schopp

Posted by Chad Dennis on Jan 15, 2020 5:39:40 PM

Purdue assistant coach A.J. Schopp joins host Chad Dennis on the latest edition of The MatBoss Podcast. Schopp, a three-time All-American at Edinboro, is known for his amazing work on top while on the mat. We'll also get his perspective on the things good and bad in college wrestling.

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Topics: Podcast

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 44: Nick Buonocore

Posted by Chad Dennis on Jan 15, 2020 5:33:22 PM

Nick Buonocore, the founder of the Reformed Sports Parent, joins The MatBoss Podcast with Chad Dennis to talk about what's going on with youth sports. Buonocore has six kids and they participate in a variety of sports, including wrestling.

Buonocore was a member of North Carolina Wesleyan's NCAA Division III baseball national championship team in 1999. Buonocore talks about how wrestling helped him be a better parent and how he's been able to form an organization aimed at making youth sports about youth sports, not about all the negative stuff that has come with being a youth sports parent. Find out more about the Reformed Sports Parent at reformedsportsparent.com.

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Topics: Podcast

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 43: Brent Metcalf

Posted by Chad Dennis on Jan 15, 2020 5:29:16 PM

Iowa State assistant coach, multiple-time U.S. world team member and two-time NCAA champion Brent Metcalf joins The MatBoss Podcast with Chad Dennis for Episode 43.

Metcalf talks about ISU's weekend in Las Vegas, what an athlete like David Carr means to the program, recruiting and the impact of social media and video on coaching as well as the upcoming dual with Chattanooga, one of Dennis' favorite subjects.



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Topics: Podcast

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 42: Joe Johnston

Posted by Chad Dennis on Jan 15, 2020 5:25:18 PM

Joe Johnston has the unique distinction of knocking off two top seeds at an NCAA wrestling championship in consecutive years. The Kansas native and past Iowa Hawkeye joins Chad Dennis on The MatBoss Podcast to talk about his wrestling career, coaching at Missouri and now his new post, coaching at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Johnston talks about the unique situation service academies bring to the world of wrestling and the student-athletes who have unique educational experiences along the way.

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Topics: Podcast

Twenty-three of nation's top 50 high school wrestling programs use MatBoss

Posted by MatBoss Staff on Nov 19, 2019 7:50:39 PM



St. Edward (Ohio) has captured 37 state championships in wrestling and 11 national titles, making it the winningest high school wrestling program in the state of Ohio and among the most highly regarded wrestling programs in the United States.

The Eagles begin the season ranked No. 4 in the InterMat Fab 50 high school wrestling rankings and are one of 23 Fab 50 teams using MatBoss, wrestling's premier videostats app.

St. Edward has won five consecutive Division I state titles, eight of nine, and 21 of 23. The Eagles are led by nationally ranked state champions Padraic Gallagher (160) and Bryce Hepner (152), along with six additional returning state tournament participants.

Three other national top-10 wrestling programs are using MatBoss this season: No. 5 Detroit Catholic Central (Michigan), No. 8 Montini Catholic (Illinois) and No. 9 Tuttle (Oklahoma).

Detroit Catholic Central has won three consecutive Division 1 state titles, six of eight, and seven of the last ten. The Shamrocks are anchored by four nationally ranked wrestlers: Dylan Gilcher (106), Josh Edmond (138), Derek Gilcher (160), and Steven Kolcheff (285). They feature four additional returning state medalists, and two other returning state qualifiers.

Montini Catholic has won back-to-back state championships in Illinois Class 3A and state titles in 10 of the last 12 seasons. The Broncos are led by a pair of nationally ranked University of Michigan signees, Dylan Ragusin (126) and Fidel Mayora (152). They also feature four additional state medalists and another wrestler with state experience.

Tuttle has claimed 11 consecutive individual state tournament titles and ten straight in the dual team state tournament; nine consecutive years with ten or more placers at the state tournament. The Tigers are led by Oklahoma State signees Luke Surber (170) and Dustin Plott (182). Both are ranked inside the top three nationally at their weight class. They return three other state champions and five additional with appearances on the state podium.

Below is a look at the rest of the Fab 50 teams using MatBoss.


Jerry Best is head wrestling coach of the Allen (Texas) Eagles, ranked No. 11 in the nation (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)

No. 11 Allen (Texas): Winners of ten straight state titles, the Eagles are led by four nationally ranked wrestlers: Braxton Brown (113), Anthony Ferrari (145), Elsie Brown Ton (160), and A.J. Ferrari (220). Four other wrestlers on the roster have state placement finishes in their career.

No. 15 Elyria (Ohio): 2018-19 marked a fifth consecutive season in the national team rankings for the Pioneers, who scored a program-high 143 points in finishing third at the Ohio big-school state tournament. Elyria is anchored by three nationally ranked wrestlers: Dylan Shawver (126), state champion Mick Burnett (138), and Jake Evans (182); while other key wrestlers include state champion Peyton Fenton (113), state runner-up Enrique Munguia (160), along with state placers Bryce Allison (120) and Nate Burnett (132).

No. 17 Brighton (Michigan): The Bulldogs finished as state runner-up for a second straight season in 2018-19, and return eight state medalists from last year's team, led by state champion Eddie Homrock (138). Other multi-time state placers returning for Brighton include Mason Shrader (126), Sam Freeman (132), Zach Johnson (145), Dane Donabedian (170), and Luke Stanton (285).

No. 19 Southeast Polk (Iowa): The Rams ended last season nationally ranked for an eighth straight year and earned their fourth dual team title in the last seven seasons; the runner-up finish in the individual tournament marked a ninth straight top four finish in the state tournament, and 10th in 11 years. This year's team is anchored by nationally ranked returning state champion Gabe Christenson (195), while six other Southeast Polk wrestlers have state experience: returning medalist Justin Brindley (182), Joel Jesuroga (132), Camden Baarda (152), Deveyan Montgomery (160), Kaleb Runyon (220), and Connor Brown (285); also expected to make significant contribution is impact freshman Nathan Jesuroga (106).

No. 20 Shakopee (Minnesota): Winning their first team state title, the Sabres ended the 2018-19 season as a nationally ranked team for the third straight year. State champions Paxton Creese (120) along with Pierson (126) and Carson (170) Manville anchor this year's squad, while five additional wrestlers with a state podium finish compliment: Blake West (113), Ben Lunn (132), Connor Raines (160), along with Joey (195) and Tommy (220) Johnson.

No. 22 Brecksville (Ohio): The Bees have finished in the top five of the individual state tournament each of the last season years, and have been nationally ranked in six of those seasons, including three straight headed into this year. Anchoring this year's team are a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers: Victor Voinovich (145) and Ethan Hatcher (220); Ben Vanadia (182) is a returning state runner-up and Jimmy Carmany (132) is a two-time state placer; while James Bronstrup (138) and Anthony Rizzo (170) return as state qualifiers.

No. 24 Stillwater (Minnesota): After last year's runner-up finish at team state in their third successive appearance, the Ponies seek to reach new heights in the 2019-20 season with a first finish in the national rankings, and then some. They are led by two-time state champion Reid Ballantyne (132) and six other wrestlers with podium finishes in past state tournaments: Matt Hogue (120), Kieler Carlson (138), Trey Kruse (145), Hunter Lyden (152), Ryder Rogotzke (160), and Josh Piechowski (195). The starting lineup is expected to feature three-to-four other wrestlers with state tournament experience.

No. 26 Malvern Prep (Pennsylvania): The Friars seek a return to the national rankings, where they were in the three seasons prior to 2018-19, during the upcoming season. Anchoring their lineup are six returning National Prep placers: Dayton Delviscio (120), Dalton Harkins (152), Jack Wehmeyer (160), Caden Rogers (170), Andrew Connolly (182), and Nicholas Feldman (195).

No. 28 Mt. St. Joseph (Maryland): The Gaels are led by a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers in three-time National Prep top three finisher Chris Barnabae (126) and returning champion Isaac Righter (285). Five additional wrestlers have placed at the National Prep tournament during their careers: two-time medalists Nathan Porter (132) and Connor Strong (152), Joseph Couch (106) and Parker Werner (220), as well as 2018 placer Clement Woods (138).

No. 30 St. Joseph Montvale (New Jersey): Leading the Knights squad is nationally ranked sophomore Alex Almeyda (120), along with two additional wrestlers that have placed at state in Joe Manno (113) and Justin Bierdumpfel (132). Additional wrestlers with state experience include Jordan Iannone (126) Stefano Sgambellone (152), Jean Carlos San Juan (160), Jack Farinaro (182), and Michael Toranzo (220); while Jim Mullan (285) is expected to make significant noise as a freshman.

No. 33 Lowell (Michigan): The Red Arrows won their sixth straight team state title in Michigan's Division 2 last season despite not finishing as a nationally ranked team; they seek to return to the Fab50 this season, where they were positioned five times from 2012 to 2018. Lowell's lineup is led by nationally ranked three-time state champion Austin Boone (145) and is joined by eight other wrestlers that have placed at the state tournament in their career. Two-time state placers in the group include James Fotis (152), Doak Dean 9160), and Tyler Deloof (285).

No. 35 Waverly-Shell Rock (Iowa): The Go-Hawks had an extraordinary performance on Thursday and Friday two in the individual state tournament title in Iowa's big-school division after finishing runner-up in the dual team event to Southeast Polk on Wednesday. Four wrestlers return with state podium finishes on their resume: Bailey Roybal (113) and Aiden Riggins (126), along with two-time medalists Evan Yant (152) and Brayden Wolf (195). Ryder Block (106) should make a significant impact as a freshman, while three others bring state experience to the table.

No. 40 Park Hill (Missouri): The Trojans ended last season nationally ranked for a fourth straight year and bring back five wrestlers with state placement finishes on the resume. A trio of nationally ranked wrestlers anchor the squad: Ethan Miller (126), Trey Crawford (138), and Ashton Sharp (220); Kal Miller (132) and Greyston DiBlasi (145) also placed at state last year; while Cael Keck (106) and Ryker Smith (113) were state qualifiers.

No. 41 DeKalb (Illinois): The Barbs advanced to the semifinal round of the dual team state tournament in Illinois' big-school division last year. The Barbs are led by three returning state placers: 2018 state champion Fabian Lopez (138) as well as Danny (126) and Tommy (132) Curran. Four other wrestlers made the state tournament last year: Ben Aranda (106), Blake McGee (120), Damian Lopez (145), and Bradley Gillum (160).

No. 42 Nazareth (Pennsylvania): The Blue Eagles finished last year nationally ranked for the fourth straight year, and fifth time in six overall. This year's team is led by returning state runner-up Deshawn Farber (145) along with four additional state placers: two-time state medalists Andrew Smith (120) and Nathan Stefanik (152), along with Connor Herceg (170) and Drew Clearie (182).

No. 43 Stoughton (Wisconsin): The Vikings won a second consecutive state title last season, and this year's team is led by returning state champion Nicolar Rivera (120). Three other wrestlers have finished as state runner-up in their career: Braeden Whitehead (145), Luke Mechler (160), and Brooks Empey (220); while Gavin Model (152) and Brandt Spidle (182) also possess state tournament experience.

No. 44 Christian Brothers College (Missouri): The Cadets repeated as state champions last year in Missouri's big-school division, and finished nationally ranked as well for a second straight year. Nationally ranked three-time state champion Joshua Saunders (145) is the clear anchor of the squad, while state champion Vincent Zerban (152) is one of four additional returning state medalists.

No. 45 Simley (Minnesota): The Spartans won a 12th state title in program history, ending a three-year drought, last season; the key victory came in the section final over Kasson-Mantorville. This year's roster is led by nationally ranked Ryan Sokol (138), a Cadet World team member in freestyle this past summer; additional key wrestlers include Super 32 placers Quayin Short (182/195) and Bennett Tabor (195/220), state champion Chase DeBlaere (132), state runners-up Cael Berg (145) and Nolan Wanzek (160/170), along with returning third place finishers Reid (113) and Gavin (170/182) Nelson.

No. 47 Fort Dodge (Iowa): The Dodgers were nationally ranked in the three years prior to last year and are led this year by nationally ranked state champion Drake Ayala (120). Four other wrestlers on the roster have placed at the state tournament in their careers: Lane (113) and Brooks (132) Cowell, state champion Carson Taylor (126), and 2018 state medalist Levi Egli (195). Four additional projected starters have qualified for the state tournament during their careers.

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Topics: High School

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 41: Dr. Hawkeye Alex Meyer previews Iowa-UTC

Posted by Chad Dennis on Nov 12, 2019 2:55:27 PM

Chad Dennis brings "Dr. Hawkeye" Alex Meyer to talk about the Iowa-Chattanooga dual as well as getting Meyer's perspective on the transfers into the Iowa program, payment of college athletes and some tangents on that. What is the going rate for what athletes can make in the summer? What's the deal with how Iowa does its intrasquad and wrestle-offs?

How does a team like Iowa prepare for a team that isn't highly ranked? All that and weight-by-weight preview of the UTC-Iowa dual.

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Topics: Podcast

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 40: Keith Gavin

Posted by Chad Dennis on Nov 8, 2019 3:50:03 PM

Third-year head wrestling coach Keith Gavin from Pittsburgh joins The MatBoss Podcast for Episode 40. On this edition, host Chad Dennis talks about Gavin's prospectus for the 2019-20 season with his Panthers wrestling team and how the squad is looking to push through after a successful dual season a year ago, but a disappointing NCAA championships.

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Topics: Podcast

Sixty-five percent of ranked NCAA wrestling teams use MatBoss

Posted by MatBoss Staff on Nov 8, 2019 10:26:16 AM



The 2019-20 preseason rankings for all three divisions of NCAA wrestling have been released. Sixty-five percent of the teams that appear in the preseason rankings, including all three returning national championship teams, use MatBoss, wrestling's premier videostats app.

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Topics: College

The MatBoss Podcast Episode 39: Fantasy college wrestling discussion

Posted by Chad Dennis on Oct 23, 2019 10:35:48 AM

On Episode 39 of The MatBoss Podcast, host Chad Dennis returns with his college teammate, Jason Laflin, to talk fantasy wrestling as the two drafted after WrestleStat developed a fantasy wrestling engine for wrestling fans. The fantasy discussion centers around who's going what weights and where and how it's like other sports.

How's it work and how's it going to work?

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Topics: Podcast

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