Purdue head wrestling coach Tony Ersland has a strong track record of national success and consistency. Ersland, a former Iowa wrestler, has helped the Boilermakers finish in the top 25 in the final poll in six of his seven seasons as head coach. He has qualified 45 wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, including eight wrestlers in a season four times. Purdue has compiled a dual meet mark of 60-50 under Ersland. The Boilermaker head wrestling coach has also been successful in recruiting, landing five top-25 recruiting classes in his seven seasons.
MatBoss recently caught up with Ersland and talked to him about this past season, recruiting, NCAA's NIL policy, schedule, season outlook and more.
Kyle Ruschell has helped carry on the strong wrestling tradition at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since he was hired to lead the Mocs in 2018. Ruschell led UTC to a share of the conference dual meet championship in his first season (2018-19). He has compiled a 15-5 conference dual meet record in three seasons and has had 11 national qualifiers.
Ruschell, a Kentucky native, was a two-time All-American and four-time NCAA qualifier at Wisconsin. He was a member of the U.S. National Team (2014) and won a gold medal at the 2017 Pan American Championships.
MatBoss recently caught up with Ruschell and talked to him about UTC wrestling, Tim Johnson, Barry Davis, SoCon and more.
Jake Stevenson, a 2007 NAIA national champion and four-time All-American, has guided Morningside's wrestling program to a 77-40 dual meet record in his nine seasons as head coach. He has led the Mustangs to three Great Plains Athletic Conference championships and five conference runner-up finishes. Morningside is consistently ranked among the top-20 NAIA wrestling programs in the nation.
MatBoss talked to Stevenson about this past season, academic excellence, Colton McCrystal, NAIA, expectations for the 2021-22 season and more.
Duke's wrestling program has seen considerable success under the guidance of head coach Glen Lanham. The Blue Devils had consecutive top-25 finishes (2018-2019) and put together a streak of six consecutive years with an All-American (2015-2020).
MatBoss recently caught up with Lanham to discuss this past season, Finesilver family, Jacob Kasper, expectations for this coming season and more.
Dax Charles has spent over 30 years at CSU-Pueblo as a student-athlete and wrestling coach. As a competitor, Charles won a national championship at CSU-Pueblo (then University of Southern Colorado) in 1992 and earned All-America honors three times. He was inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012 and the CSU-Pueblo Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
Charles became CSU-Pueblo's head wrestling coach in 2008 after the program was reestablished. He has taken the program to great heights, finishing in the top-25 at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships several times, including an 11th place finish in 2018. He was named 2017 RMAC Coach of the Year after guiding the ThunderWolves to their seventh RMAC championship.
MatBoss recently caught up with Charles and talked to him about this past season, his competitive career, team expectations and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on our lives. Disrupting long-standing ways of doing things. Like conducting wrestling practice in these times of shuttered schools, "shelter-in-place" orders, mandatory "home schooling" and "social distancing."
Even in these challenging times, there are ways you can use advanced technology and distance learning to help your wrestlers master the vital skills to become even more successful in the oldest and greatest sport.
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.
Wrestling is no different than any other sport.
It continues to change and evolve.
And for coaches, that means staying current on techniques and tactics from the developmental level to the Olympic level.
With so many technological advances, and easy access to it, the landscape certainly has undergone a significant transformation.
If a coach needs a quick scouting report on an opposing wrestler or wants to study and learn a specific technique, online videos are readily accessible on their phone or computer.
Johnson & Wales head wrestling coach Lonnie Morris joins The MatBoss Podcast for Episode 4. Host Chad Dennis talks to Morris about building his program, evolving as a coach, recruiting, growing his team's fan base through events and promotions, competing against Rutgers, team expectations and more.
Day after day, practice after practice, coaches in all sports consistently preach to their athletes about the importance of believing in themselves, and building the confidence needed to achieve success.
In wrestling, high school and college coaches are constantly looking for a mental edge for their athletes, hoping to find a way to motivate, push, and get the wrestler to believe they will achieve their goals.