College Wrestling 101 for Women

Amid the many opportunities available for women to wrestle in college, how to prepare yourself for a huge decision can be lost in the noise. Making sure you have a college plan is key, and we're here to help provide you with the tools to make one. 

Where do I start?

There are over 40 colleges who offer wrestling for women, which means a huge variety of options. These colleges are predominantly NAIA schools, and reach from east coast to west coast, and includes Canada. The NCAA is currently reviewing a bid that would great emerging sport status for women’s wrestling. Emerging sport status refers to the NCAA supporting more sport opportunities for women, while it builds towards a full NCAA Championship. For further resources, see national and world team member Jessica Medina’s article on the current process for applying to a wrestling college here. The interactive map below displays the most up to date resource on current colleges with women's wrestling programs. For the original college map resource, visit New-York USA Wrestling.

School environment

Major, location, and school amenities should all be factors towards your decision. When athletes are happy with their world outside of the wrestling room, they tend to do better in school and in competition. It could be to your advantage to take the worst of situations into account. If an unfortunate career ending injury should occurs (let’s hope it never comes to that), you should still be happy finishing your college degree at your school of choice. Make a list of the top 5 schools that fit your needs. Start by filling out a Recruiting Form. This form can be found on the team website where you find the school roster and scheduling information (or in the map above). The information on this form goes directly from the admissions office to the wrestling coach and helps your overall school application stand out.

Team environment

If you do an on-campus visit, stay in the dorms with girls from the team, attend a practice, eat in the cafeteria, sit in on classes, and get a tour of the downtown area. If possible, coordinate your visit with a home dual or tournament to watch the team compete. This will provide you a great opportunity see the dynamic of the team and coaches in action.

Put yourself on the map

Often, an onsite school visit due to distance is not an option, or you’ve have a hard time narrowing down your choices (there are so many options!). You have another option: get yourself to competitions where college coaches attend. Junior and Cadet Folkstyle Nationals, the Women’s Freestyle Nationals in Texas, and Cadet and Junior Freestyle Nationals in North Dakota area critically important tournaments to attend if you can get to at least one. College coaches will travel to these tournaments to do recruiting and scouting. Attending the WCWA (Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association) Nationals will give you the chance to watch all the coaches and teams in action. Be sure to let coaches know you are interested in their schools and will be attending. They will certainly want to meet you, and this may give you an opportunity to ask questions if they can plan ahead of time.


Learn freestyle and the rules

You don’t have to know all the technique for freestyle, but you should definitely know the rules. Get familiar with how to score, how to break a score tie, and that good old push out. Join a local freestyle club to begin getting experience. Attending 1-2 times per week over the summer can get you familiarized with the style you will wrestle in college. Youtube videos will be a great resource if you’ve never seen freestyle or if you’d like to see the rules in action.

Get in shape

Start using the offseason as a way to implement a consistent lifting and running program. You don’t have to be wrestling non-stop, but you should get used to adding these workouts. In college, weight lifting will be a regular part of your training. Get yourself prepared for two a days and heavy competition. You should acclimate yourself to the best of your ability.

Prepare for a different lifestyle

When you attend college as an athlete, you are there to staying on top of your academics and work on becoming a better wrestler. Your lifestyle will be different, you will be away from home, and it will be critical to have people around you supporting the tough decisions you must make. You will be pulled in different directions, but when you love wrestling, you are able to steer your ship towards the choices that best support your goals. Traveling and balancing school will be a consistent theme, but you will never regret the memories you made with your teammates and the friends you make for a lifetime!