It’s true that wrestling coaches prefer to evaluate recruits in person at a tournament or clinic. But unfortunately, they just don’t have the time or budget to see every prospect this way. Cue: wrestling highlight videos. A well-crafted highlight video can put a recruit on a coach’s radar and secure them a second in-person evaluation. This is especially true for athletes who live in the Southwest and West regions where there are fewer college wrestling programs. Follow these filming guidelines to create a memorable video that stands out among the competition.
Most wrestling coaches like to watch full matches—typically four or five—in order to gauge a recruit’s full potential. Keeping that in mind, a wrestling highlight video should provide coaches with the insight they need to evaluate all three phases of wrestling: neutral, top and bottom. The bulk of the highlight video (60 percent) should be in the neutral position; about 30 percent should be in the top position, and the remaining 10 percent will showcase skills in the bottom. Providing footage against high-level, challenging opponents is more valuable than matches where the recruit is completely dominant. Think an 8-3 or 9-4 score rather than a 15-3 score, unless it was against top competition. To capture a coach’s attention, recruits should pick matches that highlight their best take downs from neutral, their best turning combinations, and their best escapes and reversals. A complete wrestling highlight video that successfully does this will be about five to 10 minutes long.
Also, there’s a common myth that wrestling recruits shouldn’t include Freestyle and Greco Roman videos, but today they’re actually recommended. Not only do these matches point out that the student-athlete competes in the off-season, but they also show coaches that the recruit wrestles at national events against outstanding competition.
Lastly, this tip can’t be overlooked: be sure to identify which singlet the wrestler is wearing so the college coach knows who to watch. It seems obvious, but many recruits forget.
College coaches look for well-rounded wrestlers. Sure, pinning an opponent in 20 seconds is impressive, but that doesn’t necessarily highlight the wrestler’s full athletic ability. Instead, wrestling coaches want to evaluate technical efficiency. Basic skills, like being proficient to get out in bottom wrestling, are just as important as advanced, dynamic moves, like flipping an opponent on their back. That’s why coaches prefer to evaluate four or five full matches where the wrestler is tested in every aspect, including takedowns from neutral, turning combinations, escapes and reversals. Even more, coaches want to see how the recruit performs during their toughest match ups. After all, college wrestling will bring on a whole new level of competition, and coaches look for athletes who can keep up. That’s why state or national-level footage against high quality wrestlers is best, if available.
Think about it like this: a highlight video is a movie trailer. It captures the coach’s attention without dragging on. For wrestling, that video includes four or five full matches and falls around five to 10 minutes long. It demonstrates an athlete’s athleticism in every phase—neutral, top and bottom—against highly competitive athletes.
Music can set an energetic tone, but it shouldn’t take away from an athlete’s performance. For that reason, we typically don’t recommend including music in a wrestling highlight video. And to be honest, coaches don’t care too much about the frills; they just want to evaluate the recruit. In fact, if there’s excessive background noise, it’s best to mute the sound completely.
We can’t reiterate this enough: student-athletes need to be proactive in their recruiting. Creating a highlight video is just the first step—getting a college coach to watch it requires some planning. First, you need to identify a list of colleges that are a good fit both academically and athletically. If you’re sending your wrestling highlight video to schools that aren’t a match, you’re wasting your time.
Then, you need to send a personalized email directly to the coach or recruiter. Even if they aren’t allowed to contact you back just yet, email is a crucial step in the recruiting process. Remember, college coaches build a list of potential prospects before they attend tournaments or events. Letting them know you’re interested in their program and emailing them your wrestling highlight video is a chance to get on their radar and be evaluated.
Lastly, it’s important to update your film as you develop athletically. Coaches look for recruits with potential who can continuously improve upon their skill set. As you attend tournaments or high-level competitions, film your matches and edit your film with your best wrestling highlights. Then, follow up with college coaches and let them know you have new footage to share.
NCSA’s Video Team edits more than 40,000 highlight videos each year. They break down every clip and package the best highlights to create a seamless reel that garners coach interest. And, depending on the membership level, they’ll produce multiple highlight videos for the athlete and help them identify the best schools to send it to.
For some student-athletes, a wrestling highlight video can be the reason they secure an in-person evaluation. It’s an opportunity to make a first impression and show college coaches their technical ability in every aspect: neutral, top and bottom. Plus, getting footage is not as complicated as it sounds. Follow these straight-forward tips to create a video that truly stands out:
Wrestling highlight videos should be published on the student-athlete’s NCSA recruiting profile where college coaches can easily access it. You can also post it to YouTube for further visibility. Once published, email a unique link of your video to the colleges on your target list.