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What are College Wrestling Coaches and Recruiters Really Looking For?

Searching for and choosing a college or university to attend is one of the most exciting times in a student athlete’s life.  The ultimate goal is for students to join a campus community that will fulfill their academic, athletic, and personal goals and dreams.  With the guidance of SPIRE coaches and college counseling, every student will build a recruitment plan for success. What does this look like for our wrestling student athletes?

  • Do the Research

    It’s important for students to start thinking about the future in a realistic way, starting by researching colleges and universities with outstanding wrestling programs, as well as top-notch academic programs.  There are many great resources online including the NCAA and Next College Student Athlete.

    There are specific criteria that college athletic recruiters follow for each division, from NCAA Division I to NJCAA. Understanding these rules will help student athletes make informed choices and preemptively contact the right coaches for your division, and establish a relationship with them very early on.

    These relationships matter. It’s estimated that only 3% of high school wrestling candidates will go on to participate in NCAA wrestling.

  • Coaches are Looking for the Total Package

    Collegiate wrestling coaches are looking for technical development; candidates who are sound and show the potential for improvement. This is a starting point, but most recruiters are looking for mental fortitude and strong academic performance as well.

  • Meet the Recruitment Requirements

    College recruiters and coaches are looking for very specific achievements when evaluating high school wrestlers for each level.

    NCAA Division I: Only 1% of high school wrestlers will make it to NCAA Division I. This level requires a strong record of winning and placing at major national tournaments, along with a commitment to year-round training in competitive wrestling clubs.

    NCAA Division II: Division II offers a better balance between their commitment to wrestling and their academic studies, but Division II offers far fewer programs than the other divisions. The recruiters for Division II are looking for wrestlers with experience in Greco and Freestyle with several major tournament competitions under their belt, but also look for a strong academic record as well.

    NCAA Division III: This level offers the best balance between wrestling and academics, and recruiters are looking for candidates that have shown an interest in other extra-curricular

    activities outside of wrestling. While there are no athletic scholarships available at the Division III level, a good candidate may find financial aid available based on need or merit. A successful Division III candidate has started with varsity wrestling, won a few high school wrestling tournaments, and placed at the state level.

    NAIA: The NAIA is mostly made up of smaller universities and are comparable to Division III schools. These recruiters are looking for wrestlers with varsity experience who have placed in tournaments.

    If you don’t qualify for an NCAA or NAIA program, you can always choose to attend a junior college to focus on their training, develop skills and earn college credits.

  • Setting Yourself Up for Success

    Being a great wrestler is a good thing, but it’s important to understand that it’s not the only quality recruiters are looking for. Good grades, excellent test scores, and leadership qualities are all part of the picture for recruiters.

    It’s important to start setting yourself up for success early in the game, not just by meeting academic and wrestling requirements, but by doing a little extra work that puts you in front of  decision makers.

    Online Profiles

    Creating an online profile gives you the platform to share your stats, your academic performance, contact information and a highlight video.

    Academic Requirements

    A recruiter’s job is far easier if they see academic achievements alongside wrestling skills and experience. Study hard, find a few non-wrestling extra-curricular activities to join and hone your leadership skills and your competitive mindset. The total package is bound to get you noticed.

    Build a Realistic List of Colleges

    Contacting coaches at colleges that have programs you aren’t qualified for is a waste of time. Check out the wrestling roster for each school and measure yourself academically with the other students, as well as your stats compared to those of the collegiate wrestlers. This is a great time to talk to your counselors and coaches to get an idea of what you need to look for personally to find a college that is the perfect fit for you.

    Contact Coaches

    Proactively reaching out to coaches will increase your chances of being noticed. Email coaches with your profile and your highlight video, along with your academic history, and don’t be afraid to reach out again as the year progresses.


    Competing is more than just a chance to test your wrestling skills; every competition is another chance to get noticed by decision makers. You can improve your odds of being noticed if you’ve contacted coaches and let them know in advance that you are competing.

  • Making Your Highlight Video

    Probably the most important step when setting yourself apart from other potential recruits is a stand-out video that highlights your wrestling skills.

    Brief is Best

    You’re not filming Titanic, you’re just offering a quick glimpse into your wrestling career and explaining why you are the perfect candidate for recruitment. Keep your highlight video short and focused.

    Contact Information

    A brief introduction is the most appropriate way to start your highlight video. It’s helpful to add your stats and awards, along with your graduation year, email address and phone number before diving into the good stuff.

    You Have 30 Seconds: Make it Count

    It’s important to grab the viewer’s attention within the first 30 seconds to one minute of your highlight video. Make sure you put your best moves first to catch the recruiter’s attention.

    Publish the Highlight Video

    Your highlight video is only effective if it gets in front of the right people. Make sure it is published prominently on your profile.

  • Success On and Off the Mat

    Remember that collegiate wrestling involves far more than just winning a few tournaments or looking good on the mat. Use this guide to give yourself a competitive edge and put yourself in a better position to get noticed by coaches and recruiters.

SPIRE Contact info:

Phone: (440) 466-1002

Email: [email protected]

Address: 5201 SPIRE Circle, Geneva, OH 44041