How to Become a Wrestling Coach

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Wrestling is the world’s oldest competitive sport, says the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Cave paintings more than 3,000 years old have been found with depictions of wrestling. The sport was introduced to the ancient Olympics around 700 BC and has been an integral Olympic event ever since, with only one exception in thousands of years – the 1900 games in Paris. Weightlifting and wrestling had been dropped from the Olympics in 1896, but were reinstated after the 1900 games. The IOC in 2013 again voted to discontinue wrestling as a Summer Olympics event in favor of more inclusive sports for all genders, but the backlash proved so strong that the committee members reversed themselves.

Today there are more than 260,000 high school wrestlers in the United States. Nearly 12,000 college athletes participate on wrestling teams.

As a certified wrestling coach, you become more than a trainer. Now you are a mentor to an athlete. Wrestling is not a sport where many athletes can expect to make a lot of money, but a talented high school wrestler can win college scholarships. This is yet another way private wrestling coaches bring value to the athlete’s development.

how to become a wrestling coach

While roughly 4% of high school wrestlers go on to wrestle in college, those who do make the team have a good shot at scholarship money. The average NCAA Division I men’s team has a roster of 32 wrestlers, but a maximum of 9.9 athletic scholarships per team are available. In practical terms, this means a college-bound high school wrestler with a successful record has about a 1 in 3 chance at winning a scholarship if he gets on a team. Compare that with the 2% average success rate for all other NCAA sports scholarships and you begin to see why wrestling offers a great opportunity for athletes to advance their education.

But wrestlers have to be good – really good – to earn those scholarship dollars. This is why serious athletes will hire a private wrestling coach to help them reach their potential.

To coach at almost any level of the sport, you’ll need certification. The process is swift, not expensive and can be completed entirely online. Ready to hit the mat? Let’s go.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as a private wrestling coach
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities
  • Finding athletes to train as a private coach
  • Plus helpful tips for private wrestling coaches

How much money can you make?

Top wrestling trainers charge $100 or more per hour for private lessons. That’s significantly higher than the national range of $34,475 to $42,485 for full-time wrestling coaches

Training and Certification

USA Wrestling is the sport’s main governing body and oversees certification of professional coaches. You must be certified to coach at any USA Wrestling events. Certification is good for life; just complete the training and you’re all set.

how much do wrestling coaches make

There are two main certifications – Copper and Bronze – with different requirements for each. Copper is for coaches working with wrestlers age 12 and younger, and costs $50. Bronze is the advanced training program for coaches. The fee is $80 for the Bronze training package.

The first step toward certification in either category is to complete and submit a background check and pass SafeSport training. This mandatory course covers issues of abuse, sexual harassment, and when and how to report issues. The cost is $20. You can review the SafeSport handbook here.

This video tutorial from USA Wrestling explains how to get a background check.

With these steps behind you, it’s time to join USA Wrestling. Annual Wrestling Leader Membership (the coach-level membership) is currently $40.

You can then sign up for the Copper or Bronze certification courses. USA Wrestling will email course materials to you for completion at your own pace. The faster you successfully complete the course materials, the sooner you can achieve certification as a professional wrestling coach. It’s up to you.

During training you’ll learn effective methods of coaching wrestlers in moves, strategy, physical conditioning, nutrition and more. USA Wrestling also promotes these standards for certified coaches:

  • Remember always that it’s a privilege to be in the corner with your wrestler.
  • Watch your athletes and assess how your preparations in practice have helped them prepare for this moment on the mat. You can’t really teach anything new from the corner, but you can learn what to focus on next, after the match.
  • Encourage your athlete during the match to help him or her do their absolute best in the moment. If you are yelling, it should be to lift up the wrestler, not tear him down.
  • Take notes on things your wrestler does well during the match and identify ways they can improve.
  • Improvements should be made in the practice room or once the athlete has had an opportunity to cool down and become receptive to criticism. The heat of the moment during or immediately after a match is not the time to criticize.
  • Develop short commands that allow you to effectively communicate strategy to your wrestler – fast and effectively.
  • If you don’t understand the rules, don’t argue their application by the referee.

This wrestling training video shows strength conditioning for the core and effective teaching methods.

Here’s a training video demonstrating escape moves in wrestling.

wresting coach training and certification

Get a sense of teaching takedown fundamentals in this training video.

Professional Groups to join

USA Wrestling is the premiere professional group for wrestling coaches.

wrestling coach professional groups

The organization has more than 255,000 members, including athletes of all ages, coaches, officials, parents and fans. USA Wrestling charters over 4,500 wrestling clubs and sanctions over 2,100 local, state, regional and national competitions every year.

Membership includes secondary sports accident and general liability insurance, which is important for service providers.

Stay informed about the sport with United World Wrestling, the international organization that oversees amateur wrestling events. offers an online forum with more than a dozen wrestling topics active at any given time. Coaches congregate here to talk best practices, methods and share tips with one another.


Your USA Wrestling membership and participation in boxing discussion groups on social media will help grow your network. Before long you’ll have friends and colleagues who can pass along insider tips about job openings.

USA Wrestling maintains a jobs board here.

Private gyms and public recreation centers often need wrestling coaches for their courses. Check community recreation centers, the YMCA, private facilities such as Gold’s Gym and any other fitness center that offers wrestling classes.

Don’t forget online search sites such as and ZipRecruiter, which can also turn up job openings around the country.

Finding Clients

finding clients as wrestling coach

Your membership in USA Wrestling gives you access to events sanctioned by the organization. Attendance at these events is a great way to meet potential new clients.

Find a wrestling club near you with this state-by-state searchable database.

Youth centers, particularly in urban areas, often have wrestling teams where you could sign up several individuals and offer a group discount.

Offer a free training session to new students or a package discount for purchasing multiple lessons.

Ask your athletes to leave reviews on consumer sites such as Yelp, where they can post about your outstanding coaching. Your private coaching business then appears in localized searches for wrestling instruction and training.

Good to know:

Team USA recommends these 6 best practices for matside coaching:

  • The best coaching happens during practice

“Practice is for developing strategy, skills, and planning efficient communication between coaches and athletes,” says Mike Clayton, Director of the National Coaches Education Program for USA Wrestling. “Matches are good for testing the practice philosophy, not for teaching new skills.”

  • Know your wrestler’s limits

A match is not the time to tell wrestlers to try something new that hasn’t been practiced.

  • One athlete competing = one coach talking

It’s distracting to have other people besides the coach at matside, even if they’re shouting encouragement. The coach and wrestler must stay focused.

  • Keep your cool so your wrestler will, too

Coaches who remain calm and in control will help their wrestlers do likewise.

  • Working the refs doesn’t work

Focus on coaching your athletes, not the officials. If an official makes a bad call, use it as a teachable moment for your wrestler. Not all calls will always go your way.

  • Stay positive

The best matside coaches develop a style customized to each wrestler before a match begins. A good rule of thumb is to praise in public and criticize in private. Above all, offer praise every time the wrestler steps off the mat.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some other content that can help you grow your career as a private wrestling coach. Here’s a great place to start.

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