Youth Wrestling




Athlete Planning & Review Sessions Help Wrestlers Succeed

By Steve Fraser

April 10, 2007

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the place winners of the 2007 U.S. National Championships held in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 7. The best of the best that the USA had to offer in women’s, freestyle and Greco-Roman were all there competing for national titles.

As National Coach of our Greco-Roman squad I can proudly say I was impressed with the performance of all three styles.  Regardless if the wrestler was 1st, 2nd, 3rd or beyond, we are all in this together and are on the same team as far as winning the World Championships to be held this September in Baku, Azerbaijan. This years World Championships will also be the first leg of the Olympic Qualifier for Beijing. So, it is especially important that our U.S. Squads are totally prepared for this year’s big event in Baku.

In Vegas - our coaching staff saw some very nice improvement in our Greco-Roman wrestling skills. We saw some very good intensity and explosion. We saw some great execution of technique, both offensive and defense. We saw some outstanding bravery and courage. However, we also saw some areas of need for our team.

After a week of well deserved rest our U.S. National Team will start to re-focus on improving our specific areas of need.  Each athlete should be identifying their personal needs for progress and creating a plan of attack to advance in these areas.

We believe that it is very important to identify, on an ongoing and individual basis, the specific needs and strengths of our top national team members. Helping them set goals as well as “ways & means” to achieve those goals is another very important aspect of advancing ones skills. One way we do this at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, in Colorado Springs, Colorado is through what we call our “Athlete Planning and Review (APR)” sessions. 

The coach or coaches meet with the wrestler on an individual basis to discuss his/her progress in skill development. This can prove very beneficial to both the coach and the wrestler. It gives the athlete a chance to spend some quality time with the coach. It allows for them to identify what they need from the coach, how they think they are doing, and what their goals are.

For the coach, it can give great insight on what the athlete is thinking and where their focus is.

It allows for the coach to acknowledge successes and skill achievements while praising the athlete for their improvements. It gives the opportunity for the coach to guide and direct the wrestler in his/her thinking and give suggestions on how to improve.

Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner participated in APR’s twice a year with our Greco staff and I. “I looked forward to my APR session with my coaches. This is my opportunity to really get down and dirty with what I need, and where I am going with my training and wrestling career”, quotes Gardner.

The following are instructions on how to do Athlete Planning & Review sessions with your athletes.

The Athlete Planning & Review form is a communication tool designed to be used by a coach and an individual wrestler.  This form is to be used as a means of communicating goals, achievements, needs for improvement, etc…and produces an ongoing review of an athlete’s progress.  By meeting with your athlete on a one-on-one basis you are creating a viable means of evaluating individual advancement.  At the same time this process allows you and your wrestler to identify problem areas and then establish manageable tasks to improve those areas. 

The AP&R form & session should greatly enhance your ability as a coach, to focus on your individual wrestlers’ needs thus helping him to reach their ultimate wrestling goals.

The form is designed to be flexible in its use.  Note that the coach can customize the way they want to use this form.  Here are the guidelines that are recommended:

*Athlete should obtain the form and complete page 1 prior to meeting with his/her coach.  Coach and wrestler should complete Page 2 jointly during the APR session.

*The coach should make a copy of the completed AP&R form at the beginning of the session for ease of discussion.

*The athlete & coach sit down in a non-interrupting setting to discuss the athlete’s completed form.  This entire session should take approximately 60 - 90 minutes and should be scheduled periodically (one or two times/season).

*The coach should let the athlete take him through the first page of the AP&R form with

the athlete being responsible for presenting the information and the coach commenting and responding throughout the process.  Page 2 is for coach & athlete to identify both long-term (approx. 1 yr) and short-term (approx. 3 mo) goals.  Identifying ways and means of achieving goals as well as establishing completion dates are very important aspects of goal setting.  Assigning a due date lends some urgency to addressing the issue in a timely manner.

*The coach should take time to acknowledge the athlete’s achievements.

*The coach should identify specific areas that need improvement & help identify tasks that will address these areas.

*The coach should utilize this session to be positive and complement the wrestler for improvements, achievements and progress as well as to help identify further needs for improvement.  The coach should always leave the session on a positive note… praising the individual for progress/achievements.

*At the end of the session the coach and athlete should schedule the next AP&R session.  The athlete should bring his goals sheet to next session for review.  The coach should keep a copy of all athletes’ AP&R’s on file for future review, etc.  You can download a copy of the form right here.

DOWNLOAD printable USA Wrestling Athlete Planning & Review/Goals & Action Plan 

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