INFORMATION FOR COACHES

Girls wrestling is the fastest growing high school sport in the country.  

In PA, girls wrestling has been given Emerging Sport Status by the PIAA and more and more high schools across the state are adding girls teams.

 

As a coach, you play a pivotal role in helping to grow the sport and get girls wrestling sanctioned in PA. Find out how to start a team and why girls wrestling can be a great fit for your school

 
 
 
 
 
 

How does our school form a team?

Adding a girls team at your school is likely much easier than you think.

  • Girls and boys CAN practice together

  • Girls and boys CAN be coached by the same coaches

  • There is no minimum number of girls required to start a team. There have been several teams in PA that have formed without even having a girl on their team the previous year.

  • Girls wrestle folkstyle. The rules for girls wrestling are the same as for boys.

  • National data shows that girls will wrestle if they know they are welcomed. Having no girls wrestling on your team now is likely a reflection of opportunity and not interest.

  • Please note that if you are looking at team formation at a Catholic School, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference supports the formation of girls' teams. Here is their statement on girls wrestling. 

To form a PIAA recognized girls wrestling team, a school may sponsor a club or varsity team. The team must operate under the direction of the school and the eligibility of the student-athletes must be reviewed and certified to by the Principal, as is done for all PIAA sports. To form an official team, a School Board or district administration must approve it. To get started:

  • Contact your Athletic Director

    • Share our Informational Packet to address any questions they may have

    • Highlight the numerous benefits of adding a girls team. (We outline reasons in our Informational Packet.) There are a LOT of reasons why adding a girls team is beneficial to both the girls as well as the school and boys team.

    • Begin to develop an idea of the logistical structure of the team (same/different coaches, same/different practice time, estimate of expenses)

  • Propose the formation of the team to the school board and/or district administration, depending on your school's new team approval process. The PIAA will consider the team official when the School Board votes on it or when administrators sign a statement of formation. Use our Proposal Templates if presenting to a School Board or sign the Team Formation Statement Template to officially form the team. When your school has created a formation statement or is scheduled for a School Board vote, please reach out to us at sanctionpa@gmail.com so we can include you on important communication for official teams and so we can accurately track these numbers for the PIAA. 

 

Why SanctionPA?

  • At the high school level, girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. The majority of states have already sanctioned girls wrestling with some of those states having had girls wrestling as an official sport for over 2 decades. Girls wrestling is here. Help set your program up for success by being on the front end instead of trailing behind.

  • Girls wrestling has shown to increase boys’ numbers and protect boys and men’s wrestling programs, and helped get men’s wrestling back into the Olympics. 

  • Girls wrestling will not only bring in more girls to your program, but it will also bring in more boys, more volunteers, more fans, and more Booster Club support. It will also lead to growth in the future as more families are comprised of wrestlers and encourage their children to wrestle.

  • Without an official girls’ team, any girls participating in wrestling will be participating as a member of the boys’ team. While those girls can attend Open Tournaments, they cannot attend other events specifically held for girls without impacting the boys’ teams’ competition points.

  • Girls wrestling allows girls to wrestle girls which creates a more even playing field for competition instead of having boys and girls compete against each other in a combat sport.

  • Looking at the number of girls coming up through the elementary and middle school system is another reason to support girls wrestling at the scholastic level - so that these girls will have teams to wrestle on and an official sport to be a part of. We have seen some youth programs in PA with over 30 girls on their roster. The numbers are constantly increasing and providing legitimate HS teams to join helps keeps these athletes in wrestling.

  • Girls wrestling has Emerging Sport Status at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. There are over 115 collegiate institutions with a women’s wrestling program and 9 of these programs are in PA. Getting girls into wrestling in their scholastic years will help feed and sustain college programs and, in turn, sustain our sport. In addition, right now the college women’s wrestling landscape is ripe with scholarship opportunities and with the NCAA granting women’s wrestling Emerging Sport Status, along with wrestling’s history of producing the second highest number of first-generation college students across all sports, wrestling is an amazing vehicle to increase the matriculation rate of your student-athletes to post-secondary institutions.

  • Girls wrestling provides another winter sport option for females and helps schools stay in, or move closer to, compliance with Title IX. Girls wrestling can only help equity.

  • Girls wrestling can help you create a positive coaching legacy. You have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact at your school by growing girls wrestling.

  • As a coach for a boys wrestling team, you are constantly trying to improve against higher-ranked teams. There are no great girls’ teams yet. You have the opportunity to get in at the ground floor and compete for a state championship when sanctioning occurs. Adding a girls team helps create the possibility of having individual State Champions and team State Championship titles. Forming a team also secures a place in the history books for the School Board, Athletic Director, Superintendent, Principal, boys wrestling program coaching staff, and supporting staff.

 

Other ways coaches can support girls wrestling

What if I am new to coaching girls?

Thousands of coaches across the country were also once coaches that never coached girls and now they are successfully coaching girls of all ages. You can do it as well. The resources below can help you navigate those first steps.

 

 

Growing numbers: Recruiting girls to wrestling

While there is NO minimum number of girls required to start a team and teams CAN be proposed before having girls identified for the team, growing the number of girls participating  wrestling is something we should all strive to do.

Here are some ideas to get started. For extensive recruiting ideas, see Recruiting Strategies, Tips, and Key Messages.

 

  • Put announcements on the school news station, daily morning announcements, or the equivalent at your school. You can use this approach more than once! Emphasize the benefits of the sport and that any girl can do it. You can also utilize our flyers to put up around the school or use digitally on the school or team’s social media pages.

  • Recruit the athletes that were cut from other winter sports at the school.

  • Recruit fall and spring sport athletes. Talk to those teams and tell them how wrestling can make them all-around better athletes.

  • Invite any girls that are managers to join the girls team.

  • If current wrestlers, especially captains, embrace girls wrestling, then it is easier for the rest of the team to embrace the concept. Current wrestlers are often your best recruiters. Empower your team to actively recruit girls to the team.

  • Have your team attend a game/sporting event of a fall or spring girls sport at the school. This can increase wrestling’s visibility for females in the school. 

  • Talk to the school about the possibility of having the elementary, junior high, and/or high school physical education teachers do a unit on wrestling.

  • Recruit in pairs when possible. This helps ensure girls have a friend and workout partner.

  • Hold a “Try-It Night.” For ideas on how to run that type of event, click here. You are also welcome to use our digital and print flyers to help you advertise.

  • Hold a “Bring Your Sister” or “Bring Your Friend” to practice day. You can run this event like a Try-It Night. Feel free to utilize our flyers.

 

Even if you have not had girls come out for the team before, or have not had consistently high numbers of girls, that does not mean there are not girls interested in joining. Girls may not join a program if they don’t think girls are welcome or don’t think there is a girls team. They may also hesitate if they think they have to wrestle boys. Remember that our youth programs are exploding with numbers right now – the interest is there. We just need to provide the opportunity.

Resources for Coaches

Our Informational Packet is a very detailed document that includes data on girls wrestling, benefits of adding programs and how they relate to existing boys teams, recruiting ideas, coaching resources, an outline of the sanctioning process, information on how to start a girls team, as well as an FAQ that we worked closely on with the PIAA that covers the most common questions from coaches, ADs, school administrators, and others!

 

 

 

 

If your school has recently formed a girls team, this Informational Packet will walk you through the steps of what is next and provide ideas and guidance on how to get the new team up and running. 

Our coach webinar discusses information regarding girls wrestling that is pertinent to new coaches as well as current coaches of boys programs, including background on girls wrestling, the process of adding a girls program, implications for practices and other logistics, competition opportunities, as well as other common questions

We have created templates for schools to use as they are preparing to submit a proposal to add a girls team and present to their administration and/or School Board. Please feel free to utilize these as your school moves forward in the process. You will also see actual proposals that were used to add girls wrestling in PA schools. 

 

If authority to approve a new team is granted to administration at your school and a School Board vote is not used, then we recommend using the template above to indicate a team has formed. 

This competition list provides information on opportunities for girls to compete against other girls during the wrestling season, even if your school does not yet have an official girls team. 

 

 

 

This outlines recruiting ideas, strategies, and tips that coaches, schools, and others can implement. Many of these strategies can also be applied to boys as well.

 

 

This includes flyers targeted at potential wrestlers as well as parents. General flyers are included as well as flyers specific to Try It events, Bring Your Sister to Practice events, and Bring Your Friend to Practice events.

 

 

 

 

Wrestling clubs play an important role in including girls in our sport. This document describes why clubs should care about girls wrestling and what they can do to be more welcoming to girls and grow the number of girls at their club.

 

 

This is a sample practice plan specifically designed for new wrestlers that you can implement at a pre/post-season practice, Try-It event, or introductory practice. If you would like highly detailed practice plans that include time markers and a partial coach script, email sanctionpa@gmail.com.

While there are more similarities than differences when coaching boys and girls, we realize that many coaches that have not coached girls before may have questions or even hesitations. This document includes tips from coaches that were once in your shoes.

 

 

While there are more similarities than differences when coaching boys and girls, we realize that many coaches that have not coached girls before may have questions or even hesitations. This document includes tips from coaches that were once in your shoes.

 

#4GirlsWrestling is a state-wide initiative in Pennsylvania that aims to increase female engagement and participation by having every school get at least 4 girls wrestling on their team. This document describes the initiative as well as ways to get 4 girls wrestling at your school.

School Recruiting Videos

Some schools have utilized videos to bring in more wrestlers to their programs. There are many ways to do this - here is one creative example. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrestler Interviews

Some girls have recorded videos about what wrestling means to them, why they want a girls team at their school, and the reasons sanctioning is important to them. Check out some of the videos girls from PA have made – they are this sport’s best spokespeople!

SanctionPA

Often, a girl’s first exposure to wrestling happens at their school. As a coach, you play a pivotal role in helping to extend the opportunity for wrestling to girls and, by extension, helping to grow and protect the sport for everyone. Our best advice to coaches is to start building program numbers now, ahead of sanctioning, so that when girls wrestling becomes an official PIAA sport, you can hit the ground running rather than fall behind.

Please feel free to get in touch with us at sanctionpa@gmail.com any time if you have questions or if we can help work with you and your school.